Nachiket Naik is the writer of “The Witch’s Justice,” a delightful and insightful short comic, with art from Jacob Fleming, that will appear in the 9th Oneshi Press comics anthology—out on January 15, 2020! We spoke to Nachiket about his inspirations, his art, and accessibility in storytelling.
Tell us about yourself, Nachiket! How did you get into comics?
Hi, I am Nachiket Naik. I am a software engineer by profession and dabble in comics, relatively recently. My parents got me into comics, actually. Very early on in my childhood I was into toy guns and action movies, and my parents at the time felt getting me interested in story books and comics would be better for me. I also was into art for as long as I remember, and comics is the perfect blend of storytelling and art. So, if there is a positive to take out of this, it’s that comics do not promote violence to kids, instead they can be a perfect diversion for your kids!
Can you tell us about your inspiration and process for creating “Witch’s Justice”?
I always had this idea at the back of my mind, which was flipping the trope of something mundane turning into something magical. For example, we read that the fairy godmother turned rats into horses and a pumpkin into a carriage. What if the reverse happened? The second part of this story clicked when I was trying to think of something for the theme of Justice, and the call for submissions specifically mentioned anthropomorphized creatures as an example. That combined with the idea I had before, and I added in a message at the end, which I always try to add in. After that, it was a simple case of structuring it into a story and adding character. Most of the story had already formed in my mind before I put it on paper. For me, the majority of the thinking happens during showers or commutes and only some of the flavoring gets added during the actual act of writing.
Another note I would like to add would [be] working with visuals. Since I am an artist myself, I write quite visually and can see the panels forming while I write them, so I often write the type of panel needed. Sometimes I leave it up to the artist, and if the artist does come up with something better during thumbnail, I definitely go ahead with that. With respect to paneling, I feel like the most instinctive is often the most suitable from the reader’s point of view. After that, one can innovate with the panels.
How did you come to team up with Jacob Fleming on “Witch’s Justice”?
I had not worked with an artist before, so I was quite nervous reaching out. I posted on reddit and discord channels that I am looking for an artist and gave a brief intro to the story. Within minutes, I started getting responses. The moment I got a message from Jacob and saw his artwork I knew that his art would fit perfectly for this story. In the end it worked out way better than I had anticipated.
What made you decide to write your own comics, instead of just reading them?
I had always created art at leisure and I always liked to add a storytelling element to my art. I used to read comics in my childhood but lost touch during my youth when I was mostly focused on excelling academically and at work. Once things had settled on those fronts, I stumbled back onto my interest in comics through comic review YouTubers. I’ve always wanted to tell stories, and things just took [their] course.
Who are your writing heroes, or other creators who inspire you?
Almost everybody inspires me. My first American comic was Neal Adams’s Batman, and the first storyline I followed was Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis. Of the writers actively working, I really like the works of Jason Aaron, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joe Hill, Ram V, to name a few. Of course Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore are some of my favorites. I especially want to mention Justin Jordan, whom I met at Emerald City Comic Con (my first comic convention), who was gracious enough to send me samples of how to write a comic book pitch; Nidhi Chanani, who looked at my portfolio and gave me good encouragement; and Ram V, the latter of the two of which are Indians. Seeing folks coming from similar backgrounds as oneself is really confidence building.
What comic book character do you identify most with, and why?
Peter Parker because of, among other things, the fact that he is not for the most part a larger-than-life, God-like hero but just a guy that wants to do the best and live up to expectations and also not let his loved ones down. That’s a very underestimated quality and motivation.
What’s important to you in a comic book, as a reader? As a writer?
As a reader I am looking to have a good time, be able to understand the story, feel what the characters are feeling, and have something to chew about the story afterwards, which might make me want to revisit the story.
As a writer I am looking to tell a concise, comprehensible story but also weave in a layer behind the story so that readers that do want to delve deeper, have something to latch on to.
How do you make your work immersive and progressive (the Oneshi Press themes)?
Good question. I think you can make your work immersive by making it accessible. If I have to be introduced to seven characters before the plot rolls on, you’ve lost me. If I have to know five years of character history, you’ve lost me. If you introduce too many names and concepts right at the start, you’ve bored me with exposition. The idea is to make things intuitive enough that I don’t have to do exposition, I don’t have to do character bio, and I want to stay away from spinning five plates before I can engage the user. Reduce the resistance for the user early on so that the stories are easier to lose yourself in.
To make stories progressive, I feel like we need to challenge existing tropes but not just do a cursory flip. This begins with just thought exercises. For example, a common flipping of tropes is damsel in distress flipped to knight in distress saved by damsel, but a real flip would be monster in distress saved by one of them? Or how about a monster in distress because of a damsel and a knight, and so on. Can you weave a story around that?
Any new projects you’re working on?
I am also contributing to a story for another anthology by Arledge Comics, named “Lizard in the Grass.” The story is about how we create modern myths and explores how easy it is to create a legend in today’s hyper-connected world. Besides that, I will be working on creating some cover art to add to my portfolio and will be keeping an eye out for exciting anthologies to contribute to.
Where can readers find you online?
Find me on Instagram as happy_go_sketchy, Facebook as Nachiket Naik Art, and nachiketn on Deviantart as well as Twitter. Say hi if you find my profiles!
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