Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Indian Comics Get an Exciting New Spin

Via The Telegraph

What happens when a mysterious virus attack that reduces its victims to feral savages breaks out in Bangalore? Will the lone R&AW agent who enters the city find any survivors, and can he beat the odds and come up with a cure? Or, will the city succumb to the attack of the zombies?

Or would you rather follow the storyboard of young Kalki, a seemingly average teenager who hunts modern-day demons at night. Is this the return of Kalki, the tenth incarnation of Lord Vishnu? And can he tame the dangerous demons who are stalking the world.
Forget alien superheroes in underwear. Forget even the epics — as you’ve known them so far. The storyboard’s exploding as a host of new comic book publishers are creating a graphic new world of Indian comics.

The new players are determined to prove that comics aren’t meant for children alone and that they can produce world-class comics in India. So they’re coming up with fresh tales to reach a growing base of readers.

Consider this. In the last three years, publishers like Vimanika, Campfire, Arkin Comics, Level 10 and Manta Ray have entered the frame. Three months ago, comic book “fanatic” Jatin Varma launched Pop Culture Publishing. Later this month, comic book artist Vivek Goel will launch his imprint Holy Cow Entertainment. And others are coming too.

The new publishers are producing everything from serialised comics to magazines to graphic novels. There’s even a self-published 250-page anthology, Comix India. Campfire began by retelling classics like Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist in graphic form. And Vimanika is focused on mythological tales like I Am Kalki. Level 10 wants to tell comic stories in every genre from sci-fi to horror as long as they’re set in India while Manta Ray is dealing in realistic tales. And Comix India’s Bharath M. is even doing non- fiction comics.

The players are confident of the genre’s growth. After all, the country’s first comic convention, Comic Con India, held in February, drew over 15,000 footfalls over two days with visitors even dressing like comic characters.

“We’re selling passion, not comics,” says Karan Vir Arora, who founded Vimanika Comics in 2007.

Like the other entrepreneurs, Arora was inspired by Virgin Comics, which reinvented Indian comics in the 2000s — with the rise of satellite television, comic books had started losing their popularity in the 1990s.

Virgin shut down in 2008 and now has a new avatar Liquid Comics. But it changed the game by bringing in international titles and also by showing that Indian artists and writers could create comics like Devi and Ramayan 3392 A.D for international audiences.

If the new players are reinvigorating Indian comics, the existing majors are ramping up too. For instance, Diamond Comics is launching comics in south Indian languages. And it’s working on a 24-hour channel too. “It will be based entirely on Indian content,” says Gulshan Rai, managing director, Diamond Comics.

Yet, there are challenges ahead. Goel feels the biggest challenge for the new entrants is to “make their books available regularly”.

The other big challenge is distribution. While the entrenched players reach Tier 2 and 3 towns, the new ones are struggling for visibility in the metros.
Read the entire article here.

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