These 14-year-olds are developing a graphic novel series centred on social issues
While brainstorming in their Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) class on a socially relevant business idea, Tavishi Kapoor and Tejasvi Gupta drifted to memories of the Tinkle comics they had been hooked on to as children.
“Something clicked and we decided to conceptualise a comic for children roughly our age. Our way forward would be to write to educate and entertain and that’s how The Social Strip was created,” Tavishi tells HerStory.
The Social Strip is a media company that is developing a graphic novel series for children and teenagers with a focus on technology and social issues relevant to today’s youth. Their mission statement is “Books for children, by children”.
Writer and developers
The girls’ first book, A Hurtful Post, on cyber-bullying, will be released on Amazon in September.
The Class 9 students of Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai, plan to develop about 10 titles over the next three years, each of which would be around a topic of relevance for youth such as cyber-security, climate change, artificial intelligence, gender diversity, and more.
All contributors to the books, including Tavishi and Tejasvi, and the writers and developers of stories, editors, and illustrators, are under the age of 16.
“We noticed a huge gap in the children’s literature market. There are huge global franchises such as Archies and Tin Tin but they are purely entertainment focused. On the other hand, there are many graphic novels in India for children such as Panchatantra and Amar Chitra Katha that focus on moral values. However, there is a lacuna when it comes to books on contemporary topics such as technology that today’s youth can relate to,” Tejasvi says.
“There is a pressing need to educate children on topics that are relevant in today’s world. This is the opportunity that The Social Strip is looking to exploit. This will be our competitive differentiation,” she adds.
Relatable and aspirational
The graphic novel series features two 11-year-olds, Aarna and Natasha, as protagonists. Both these girls have extremely unique personalities; these differences draw them towards each other. Aarna is a tech geek and enjoys robotics; math is her passion. It is her dream to create a robot that can change the world. She wants to use AI and tech to improve the world.
Natasha is a prolific debater, enjoys history, and cares about social causes. It is her dream to become UN chief one day and make the world a better place for all, especially the downtrodden.
“Aarna and Natasha’s characters are relatable as well as aspirational for young readers. They will be key in driving and building a fan following for The Social Strip,” say Tejasvi and Tavishi.
Starting with English, they hope to translate to other languages soon. The books will be affordably priced in the range of Rs 250-300. To start with, their primary distribution channel will be Amazon, with the founders using Kindle Direct Publishing for their e-books. They are also exploring a partnership with a boutique publisher to publish paperback copies of their books.
While developing the book, initially Tavishi and Tejasvi spoke to few experienced professional illustrators to collaborate with them on their project.
“We spent several weeks discussing and after having invested considerable time and effort, we realised that these experienced professionals were not truly aligned to our vision and would not be ideal partners as a sense of ownership was not there. This was a big learning for us,” Tavishi says.
Tejasvi and Tavishi set up The Social Strip in just six months, and believe this would not have been possible without YEA and the support they received.
“Our biggest success came about during their YEA Investor Panel, when our pitch received with much appreciation and we won the second prize. Using the prize money as funding was a crucial aspect in seeding our business,” Tejasvi says.
Their plan is to leverage social media to raise awareness amongst the younger audience about their book. The founders also plan to promote the lead characters Aarna and Natasha, and focus on infotainment content around the topics on which the books will be based on.
The idea is to partner with other influencers like “The Period Society” and “Going Postal” to promote books. They want to also explore paperback publishing by tying up with a publishing house and explore making their content on other platforms such as Wattpad.
“Our primary revenue model will be sale of books. We expect to sell over 10,000 copies over the next two years across four-five titles. Going forward, we hope to explore other monetisation opportunities such as licensing our content for animation series, podcasts etc, merchandise for children and a comic strip,” Tavishi says.