Aminder Dhaliwal has always loved animation, both TV and feature film. As an indoor kid plopped in front of the television set, she drew the characters she viewed. Dhaliwal was in high school when comics came along. She had just started reading Manga and well – nothing’s changed, she is still doing a lot of catching up! Aminder has created memorable comics and chances are that you’ve liked most of them on Instagram and Tumblr. Woman World, Mild Inconvenience, Henry Peter – they are all the brainchild of this Canadian comic writer and artist. SheThePeople.TV converses with Aminder Dhaliwal about her journey to animation and comics, and the forthcoming graphic novel adaptation of Woman World.
Since high school, Aminder knew that she wanted to work in animation. By stroke of luck or sheer fate, she also happened to live fairly close to Sheridan College, her alma mater which is known for its animation degree. It was there that she realised she liked storyboarding – preparing for animation by breaking a script or idea into its individual scenes and providing all the visual language required for execution (it often requires writing as well). Comics are a form of storyboarding and ergo, it was natural for Dhaliwal to get more involved in them.
The comic writer and artist charts her ideas for comics in a notebook. She begins by jotting down a word, an entire concept or even a funny face! Then, Dhaliwal leafs through her notebook, looking for the one idea that creates an instant visual in her mind. Her art style is simple and not terribly detailed, allowing her to rework comics till she senses them functioning on paper. Her process for animation is pretty much the same but on a larger scale. What is common to both her processes is paper – which Aminder uses as much as is possible.
She finds inspiration by browsing through Instagram and seeing what her friends are creating – Aminder Dhaliwal loves being surrounded by creative people! She loves the graphic novels Persepolis and SuperMutant Magic Academy as they both have a very specific tone, which is something that she always tries to relay through her comics as well. “Hopefully, I’ve been successful!” chimes the creator.
Dhaliwal’s sci-fi comedy comic series Woman World (WW) is an Instagram phenomenon about a group of women that gab and hang out in a post-apocalyptic future where men are extinct due to a birth defect and the survival of humanity is at stake. And even then, the world of WW is intersectional and inclusive – Grandma Ulaana identifies as a trans person, Mayor Gaia is a Nudist, Layla has a physical disability, Yumi is a blacksmith, Lara is a carpenter, Ina is an artist and poet who can do mad pull-ups, the Doctor has had a mastectomy.
Through the Woman World comics, Aminder endeavoured to take a lighthearted approach to feminism. There exists this idea that feminists are women who hate men and want to live without them – so Dhaliwal ran with the idea in a dystopian future. “Ultimately, the problems that the characters in Woman World face are designed to show that as people, we’re all the same,” says the Los Angeles-based comic writer and artist. WW was in part inspired by the Women’s March of 2017where the creator was inspired by all the lovely people around her on what she remembers to be a wonderful and empowering day.
Later, a few friends of Aminder posted pictures on their social media – pictures of their signs or the event in general – and instantly hateful comments popped up. It was upsetting to her to see that reaction, given that the day had been so peaceful and lovely.
Woman World will make its way to the offline space as a graphic novel in August 2018 through the publisher Drawn & Quarterly. “It was an unexpected and happy turn! It’s been fun and difficult getting everything ready for print, I’m so used to the swipe feature on Instagram to tell stories that having to layout everything on a single paper was fairly difficult,” says Dhaliwal. The graphic novel will be a collection of all the online comics (there’s been a lot of redrawing) with some new content.
The comic writer and artist is currently on a break. She is reading The World of Edena by Moebius which is a slow read because Dhaliwal finds the art to be beautiful. “I think knowing when to take a break is as important as creating art,” reflects Aminder. It has been tough for her to get used to not posting comics online but, on the plus side, she is already buzzing with new ideas for revisiting the WW world!
Comics were perceived to be niche or nerd culture in the past, but Aminder has since seen them grow into something for everyone, especially with the number of on-screen adaptations being released. The small press has taken over that niche arena with indie comics and zines – that are always funny, thoughtful and inclusive. Looking to the future of comics, Dhaliwal thinks there’s going to be a lot of interesting technological advances as so many comics are currently animated and exploring new ways to tell stories.
“When I first started out, I thought every decision I made affected my long-term goals. I overthought every internship, job offer, and every lack of job offer – it caused a lot of anxiety. Since then, I’ve learned that a huge portion of decisions are only short-term and an extremely small amount of important decisions matter in the long term. When I figured this out, it was liberating. So to sum up…don’t sweat the small things,” shares Dhaliwal.