NEW YORK: Colorado-based Indian-American cartoonist Dr. Thomas A. Kodenkandath known as “Thommy” has won the Kerala Government’s Lalithakala Academy’s prize for his cartoon “Indian Rupee gets a Symbol” for the year 2011. He is now the cartoonist for The Indian Express North American edition.
The award was presented on March 26 by Kerala Minister for Culture KC Joseph in absentia in the presence of a large number of authors, writers and artists. This is the first time that an overseas cartoonist is being honored with the state award by the Academy.
Also, his cartoon “Kings of Piravom” won the third prize in the Janayugam’s Cartoon competition on the recently held by-election in Kerala.
“I am happy especially as this is the first time I am earning this honor from Kerala Government sponsored State awards and exhibition.”
Thommy who could not be present announced at the function had announced that he would be donating his award cash prize of Rs.5, 000 for the late Missy cartoon theft case.
The Kerala Cartoon Academy has decided to litigate the cartoon theft perpetrated by a Kottayam based publisher, whereby a big collection of the late Missy’s public interest cartoons were used by him without knowledge let alone consent of the bereaved family of the late cartoonist.
Missy remained till his death an unsung singular institution among the KCA cartoonists in his relentless fight against social evils. The litigation is expected to be sensational like some of its predecessors on cartooning fought in the Kerala High Court. KCA fully appreciates the sentiment expressed by Thommy in this regard, a press release from the Academy said.
Thommy is a material science scientist by profession and believes that cartooning keeps him creative in his pursuit of excellence science and technology. He earned his Ph.D. from IIT-Madras and he is the recipient of the UNESCO’s Fellowship for Promising Young Scientists and of Imperial College, London, UK. He has authored over 75 scientific publications and hold 12 patents.
Thommy is involved in the R&D of renewable energy and storage technologies. He is a founding member of Kerala Cartoonist Academy (KCA) and a member of Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC). He has won several awards for cartooning including the Caricature Award of KCA, Rote-Fete Award of Rotary Club International, Kalakrithi Award of Anna University, and Mardi-Gras Prize of IIT-M.
In 2003 Kerala Center in New York honored him with their annual award for his “Extraordinary combination of talents as an Outstanding Scientist and Gifted Cartoonist”. In 2008, his cartoon on “Political influence in Science” was one of the winners of competition conducted by Union of Concerned Scientists in the US.
In 2010 Thommy’s poster on “Chemistry is Life & Everything” was one of the winners of the international contest conducted by European Chemical Society (EuCS) to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry and sponsored by UNESCO.
While at IIT, he met world-renowned cartoonist R.K. Laxman who encouraged Thommy to do both science and cartooning. He has been playing that delicate balance since then.
Over 1000 of his cartoons have appeared in several publications and websites all around the world that included The Week, The Onlooker, India-New England (Boston), Malayalam Patram (NY), The Indian Express (NY) and Malayalam News (UAE). His cartoons have also appeared on CNN-TV.
India Post News Service