Durga Posts

“The Puffin Book of Hindu Gods and Goddesses”

The Puffin Book of Hindu Gods and Goddesses is a nifty introduction to the prominent gods of the Hindu pantheon. It is a peppy reference to the gods and goddesses one encounters often in Hindu mythology. These are the ones such as Vishwakarma, Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Saraswati, Parvati, Lakshmi, Ganeshea, Hanuman, Durga and Kali whom one hears of often. There is a neat catalogue with short descriptions of the prominent gods and their avatars such as Shakti/Sati ( Durga, Kali and Meenakshi); Vishnu ( Matsaya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Rama, Krishna, Balrama, Kalki, Jagannatha ); Shiva ( Rudra, Bhairava, Nataraja, Lingam)  and Ardhanareshwari ( Shiva + Shakti). In the opening pages describing the Vedic gods the authors — Neelima P. Aryan and Ameya Nagarajan — have tried drawing parallels between the gods of Hindu and Greek mythology. For instance, Akash with Zeus — both are considered to be the father of gods. Each description is accompanied by a full-page illustration created in bright colours by Priyankar Gupta that are charming but have done little to break out of the mould created by Anant Pai decades ago.

The Puffin Book of Hindu Gods and Goddesses is the kind of book which will forever be in demand. It is a beautifully produced four-colour book printed on good art paper allowing for rich reading experience in print. A good production will also ensure that despite being flipped through often the book will withstand any rough use. Creating a reasonably priced book as an in-house department product by the Puffin team will definitely ensure a steady stream of revenue for the firm — a classic formula used often by other firms as well. It is also a fine example of sharp commissioning that straddles the hyper-local and diaspora markets.

Having said that there are a few more examples of illustrated books on the Hindu gods and goddesses that have proven to be extremely popular — Bhakti Mathur, Pixar’s Sanjay Patel‘s series, a wonderful series of cut out board books for children by Om Books editorial team and splendid books on Hanuman and Krishna by
Mala Dayal and on Shiva by Subhadra Sen Gupta published by Red Turtle.

Now for some enterprising publishing firm to create books on gods and goddesses of other religions as well. Puffin India, Juggernaut and Om Books have opened the innings with collection of stories from the Quran and the Bible with their retellings. Goodword books creates phenomenal Islamic books for children. In the past Penguin India had also published a beautiful anthology of greatest stories ever told from various faiths edited by Sampurna Chattarji ( 2004). Maybe it is time to revive some of the backlist publications once more.

16 March 2017 

Production Process for “Eye Spy: Indian Art” by Ritu Khoda and Vanita Pai

While researching for an article on Eye Spy Ritu Khoda and Vanita Pai shared a detailed note on the production process for the exquisitely produced book. Since it was too long to accommodate in the article I am reproducing it here with their permission. It is worth reading to understand how a book can be made. 

Children enjoy tactile activity. So we build in a great number of flaps, foldouts, stickers and die cuts, besides drawing and painting exercises. Usually, the artwork determines the production treatment and we work really hard over this. We never choose effect over relevance, and we are pleased that many readers have noticed the thought behind every page.

We chose Manipal Technologies to produce the book. Their technical expertise and availability of skilled manual workforce made it our only choice for the level of complication involved. Extensive manual tipping meant that the forms had to be perfectly organised for binding in the correct order.

• Cover die-cut had to be registered perfectly with the image on the inner second cover
• Tracing sheet (page 39) and Transparency sheet (page 43) had to be perfectly tipped in, covering only parts of the page
• All eight perforated, foldout section separators had to be tipped manually.
• Die-cuts (page 65 and page 93) had to be registered perfectly with the image on the inner second cover
• Flaps on page 83 and 139-140 were manually pasted
• Stickers (with the “eyes”) had to be perfectly kiss-cut to match the images below that children will stick them over

Production process and special paper: Aqueous coating on inside covers; UV spot treatment on eyes on inner cover; foldouts; flaps; die-cuts; stickers; perforation; tracing sheet; transparency sheet.

Vanita has designed and printed corporate calendars with MTL with a greater complexity level. These were relatively simpler operations. The complication arises while planning when they are trying to organize forms since there are different sheets and papers involved, and during prepress because it requires detailed DTP work such as precise keylines, diecuts, etc. Moreover, it was the first time that MTL packaged as many and diverse special operations in one product. This was appreciated by PrintWeek India Awards 2016 jury who gave the book Special Mention in the “Innovative Print Product” category.

We never force a treatment. It must add to the idea. For instance, a transparency sheet revealing the various arms of Durga in Manjit Bawa’s artwork on page 112 would not make sense because there we are talking colours. But Nandalal Bose’s mastery of lines and strokes lends itself to the transparency solution. So that children can see the emotion strokes can add to a painting. Likewise, the die cuts on Sultan Ali’s work on page 93 -95. We want children to notice the expression on the creatures, and the idea is in sync with “Eye” spying game.

6 February 2017

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