Charbak Dipta’s ‘Lublu’ takes readers on 360 ° ride with its immersive VR comic panels

The illustrator, cartoonist and graphic storyteller Charbak Dipta who is well known for his alien series Indian Aliens and International Aliens has recently launched a 360-degree web comic titled Lublu. It is the first 360 ° VR comic series in the world. Animation Xpress got in touch with Dipta to know more about VR comics which gives the readers an immersive experience.

Sharing the idea behind creating a 360 ° comic, Dipta said, “I came into the knowledge of 360 ° possibilities from the internet lately. This whole 360 ​​° and VR scenario excited me so much that I started practicing 360 ° photography and videography. I got a 360 ° camera and started filming, but after some time I got bored as it became commonplace. Then I discovered 360 ° illustrations which demand both technical expertise and aesthetic skills. I started researching and studying the process and tried developing it from a merely illustrated scene to a comic scene with philosophical thought-provoking ideas and then to a full-fledged comic series. ”

Lublu is an autobiographical, slice-of-life comic which features a 27 years old boy from Bengal who’s living in Delhi. By profession a commercial artist, he struggles with all kinds of philosophical problems and paradoxes possible in life.

Creating a 360 ° comic book is not technically possible, so Dipta started to create it as a webcomic. Dipta’s friend and family often refer to him as Lublu, so the artist thought that Lublu was the most suitable title for his comic.

“It’s superfun creating VR worlds inside a panel, just sitting on the drawing table! You feel like god, creating worlds! I think comics and books should be available in a virtual and digital format as it is good for the planet. More printed books means more deforestation, ”Dipta added.

The comic artist was inspired by a viral 360-degree image that combined some of Van Gogh’s paintings, which tickled the creative instinct of Dipta and made him create an immersive 360 ​​° VR panel. “The 360 ​​° format not only displays the scene, but it also places the reader inside the panel so that the reader sees one character in front and other ones behind himself / herself. I think this opens up the door to a whole new world of possibilities and experiments in storytelling .. ”

Talking about the challenges faced while creating a 360 ° scene than a mainstream 2D ​​scene, Dipta mentioned, “The main challenge is that you need to visualize the scene in 360 ° while we are habituated to do so in 2D. You need to train your brain to think like this. It’s a matter of practice and time. Then comes the technical part. There is specialized software for this like PanoPainter, Sketch 360 etc. but I found that the quintessential Adobe Photoshop is best for me for doing this. It is the most flexible and prolific software. After researching for some months I finally started some rough sketches. I kept on sketching for some other personal comic project for the whole 2021, though I stopped working on it as it was not coming out well. ”

He further added, “Earlier it was difficult to sketch in this format but with practice, things got easier. Later I found out it takes even less time to make a 360 ° scene than a mainstream 2D ​​scene. Now, confident enough with this new format, at the time of this interview, eleven episodes have come out. Many more are in the pipeline. I am experimenting with all the possible aspects of 360 ° drawing like center-to-sphere, panel-within-panel, and perspectives and so on. ”

Lublu is active on Facebook and Artstation which allows the uploading of VR images; it is one of the few web platforms that enabled 360 ° pano uploads. Dipta added, “Lublu is a full-fledged single panel comic with speech bubbles and still images. Again the surreal settings and poetic aspects that have been incorporated in this comic cannot be achieved in 360 ° photography. That’s why it’s different. Like all my earlier creative projects like Indian Aliens, Graphic poetry, this is also an original one. The goal is to take Indian comics to the world stage. ”

On asking whether he is planning to enter the Metaverse, Dipta shared, “I did not start the project with the intention to enter Metaverse as the Facebook metaverse is still in its preliminary stage. But as both concepts collide, merging my 360 degree project with it will be fun! In this digital age, the time of printed comics is gone. Even 2D webcomics format too will be obsolete in some years. Comics should keep up with time and thus 360 ° VR is the future of comics. I have been always trying to keep up with the changing time. Thus I have already worked on hundreds of NFTs. My work is selling crypto overseas. So if metaverse comes up, why not? It will be fun to apply my works in that world. ”

Apart from 360 ° comics, Dipta is currently working on a graphic novel called The American Outlaw with US comic historian Alex Grand, based on a real-life American gangster. He is also actively involved in T-shirt project The Charbax Store which features Bengal’s culture, identity, heritage, history, architecture and flora / fauna.

Revealing the future plans Dipta shared, “Like 360 ​​° VR comics, I have again discovered another format, though I will not have time for practicing that this year and will start working on it probably next year. I will not reveal much about it now but it will be a totally fun project and will open another world of possibilities to bend time and space for storytelling. ”

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