Batman, Spiderman, Wolverine… these are the kind of heroes you'd expect to see in a comic book. Indian comic artist Abhinav Krishna however puts Formula One drivers center stage. We had a chat about his inspiration to start the project and the progress it has made over seven years.
The whole project kicked off with a little play on words. At the beginning of 2012, the 24 drivers on the Formula One grid shared a total of 14 world championship titles between them – the highest there's ever been. Abhinav Krishna overheard the phrase ‘A Class of Champions’ and wondered what it would be like if he actually put the six title holders into one classroom.
At the same time, Kimi Raikkonen was a guest at the popular TV show ‘Top Gear’. ‘As I was watching Kimi talk, I thought to myself ‘this guy slept through the class on diplomacy’. And instantly, I had this vision in my head for the first comic strip. What would a class on diplomacy with the current champions look like?’
Abhinav pulled one of those all-nighters and out came the first of many comic strips of the ‘F1 circus’ project. His friend posted it in a popular Formula One fan group on facebook. It was very well received and from that point onwards, Abhinav started making a comic every week.
Still today, Abhinav gets his inspiration from the quotes that are being thrown around the Formula One paddock. For example when Lewis Hamilton won the 2018 Italian Grand Prix in ‘hammer-time style’ – only five weeks after Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff had called Valtteri Bottas a ‘sensation wingman’.
What changed over time though was his drawing style. ‘The style evolved in terms of colours and shades. There are some other things that keep changing as I grow as an artist. So some technical aspects of the characters, like the size of the helmets and their proportions keep changing over time.’ He's also portraying more and more characters with their actual faces instead of wearing their helmets, adding additional complexity.
Each of Abhinav Krishna's comic strips starts with thinking about incidents that happened in Formula One and trying to convert these stories into single frames. Then comes the actual drawing phase. ‘A rough layout helps me figure out whether the frame looks interesting or not. On top of it, it also gives me an idea of how verbose or succinct my text needs to be. Once I am happy with the layout, I draw a final layout and color it.’
From the start of the drawing phase to the final product, it usually takes Abhinav a couple of hours. Remarkably though, he creates most of those in a single session.
Over the course of seven years, F1 Circus has collected about 12,000 followers on social media. ‘I am really happy about the fact that there is an audience out there that gets what I am trying to do and even loves the experiments I pull from time to time.’ Especially his Bongo Cat and Walter Koster interviews were popular with his followers.
As for the future of Abhinav's project, he still has some ideas in his mind he wants to try out in 2019. We're excited for what's to come.