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Posted on 22 February 2011
SOCIETY & CULTURE  
COMICS

The black and white world of colour in comics

First comic conference in India ends on a high as fans and publishers gather in numbers

Yasodhara Rakshit
New Delhi

PHOTO: SHARAN TULSIANI

Comic lovers were up for indulgence. The stage was set at Dilli Haat for India’s first Comic Con, a celebration of art and craft of graphics, texts and illustrations. A relatively new and foreign concept, the event drew the comic lover from every age. And this is just the beginning.

The biggest pull was creativity--to see and showcase. Comic enthusiast Anuj Kumar, dipped in Avatar blue but dressed up as Night Crawler from the X-Men series said, “Normal life is very boring. It is only books and more books.”

Kumar, an IIM graduate said, “Just this one day we can be whatever we want.”

Eight-year-old Olive Dey dressed up as Olive Oyl, the love interest of Popeye the sailor, was among the many cartoon characters that had come out of the box.

The occasion was apt for superheroes and children to discuss buying and trading their collectibles. The event was also good for aspiring artists and writers to meet people who worked behind the comic strip.

So, without telling his parents, 23 year-old Kumar dressed up as an X-Man came with his folio of sketches. “I’ve heard about Anant Pai, founder of Amar Chitra Katha, coming to the event. Maybe he will look at these,” he said pointing his blue finger at his work.

The convergence of comic lovers, artists and publishers “is a dream come true,” Kumar added with a smile.

Lately, printed comics had been struggling a lot. “Comics have now entered the internet age,” organiser of the event Jatin Varma from Twenty Onwards Media (TOM) said. “But they (comics) have not really lost their identity. The world of comics had slowed down, but I think they are coming back again.”

Andrew Dodd, Managing Editor of Campfire, a graphic novel publisher said, “The revival of interest in comics is a result of dynamic graphics and artwork.” Comics in India had lost out to television because the graphics were more dynamic.

“Now the artwork in comics has become more suitable for PlayStation era. Besides, graphic novels and comics are a good way to get reluctant and struggling readers glued to reading,” Dodd said.

The comic industry is getting animated because “The number of artists working on comics has grown,” Varma said. “New graphic novels are being launched, bookstores are creating dedicated shelf space for comics. It is all pretty exciting.”

PHOTO: SHARAN TULSIANI

The reason behind this revival of interest is customisation. Indian comics deal with local issues and themes. It is not just turning Spider-Man into Makarman or Wonder Woman into Ajooba Aurat. Indian superheroes tackle corrupt politicians and battle Mumbai attackers using powers straight out of Hindu mythologies.

However, the event received cautious response from a section of Indian comic publishers. Some did not believe in the Indian version of Comiket or Comic Market started in Tokyo in 1975. Around eight publishers participated in the two-day event.

“Nothing life-changing can be achieved in a second,” 23-year-old Adhiraj Singh said whose graphic novel Udd Bilaw Manus was released on the first day of the event. It is about a half-human half-otter superhero fighting evil forces in post-apocalyptic Bihar.

“All Comic Cons in the world started on a small scale,” he said. “It gives an exclusive platform to new professionals showcase their work.”

“This is the first time, next year it will be bigger," Dheeraj Verma, who created Bheriya for Raj Comics in the early 1990s, said. He has been attending Comic Cons in America and has worked with Marvel and Avatar Press. "I'm excited it has started in India.”

His excitement was shared by many. Like Jagat Suraj, 35, a computer programmer by profession and comic lover by passion who jostled with five to 50 year olds to add a unique merchandise in his comic collection.

However, the ‘expensive’ price tag robbed smiles from some young enthusiasts. But the retail therapy was not easy on Suraj’s pocket either.

Samit Basu, author of Simoqin Prophecies and Turbulence said, “These days, an average comic costs about Rs 500. With increasing public appreciation and interest, people are not hesitant to pay more. If you are a film buff and a vintage poster was available, you would save up to buy it, right?”


yasodhara@tehelka.com

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Posted on 22 February 2011
 

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