news Sunday, April 05, 2015 - 05:30
Going by the massive crowd on the second day of the Comic Con Bangalore, one could probably consider the event a smashing success.  From guest appearances to activities, cosplay contests, launches, national and international comic book and merchandise stores, there was plenty to keep all comic art, gaming and movie fans entertained. Almost every interactive booth at the White Orchid Convention Centre, especially the popular “Game of Thrones” Iron Throne exhibit, had a queue on Saturday. However, several Indian publishers were not too happy with the sales in this edition of the fest.  SMY Rafi, a twenty-two-year-old author who hails from Hyderabad, launched his book “The Traverser’s Memoirs” on day one of the convention.  He feels that though the platform is good for old and budding artists to showcase their work, does not give enough exposure to them. “Those launching their work need to be given much more exposure,” he says. “It took me four and a half years to write 4,000 pages. I started writing on paper, then moved on to note pad and finally Microsoft Word,” he adds stressing on the hard work he put into the book.  The “Traverser’s Memoirs” is the first in the series of twenty high fantasy books. Rafi East India Comic, which is collaboration between Yali Dream Creations and Speech Bubble, showcased a variety of interesting graphic novels. “Taranath Tantrik” is about a psychic investigator, and in the first part of the book, he helps his CID officer friend in cracking a case. “Blood War” revolves around the vampires of India who travel across the country in a caravan whereas “Kolkata Kaleidoscope” is a graphic novel focusing on the culture of Kolkata. However, its publishers weren’t too happy about their business in the event.  “I am a bit disappointed with this edition of the Comic Con. The turnout last year was more and the sales were much better,” says Prabuddha Neogi, the founder partner of Speech Bubble Entertainment.  Prabuddha Neogi (left) He blames it on the timing of the event. “The last Comic Con in Bengaluru was in September 2014. And this year they planned the event too soon. There should have been more gaps between the two editions,” Neogi says.  He also feels that the climate is another dampener. “September is a pleasant time. April is too hot and humid,” he adds.  According to the organisers of the event, the turnout in last edition of Comic Con Bangalore was around 35,000 and the sales crossed over 65 lakhs in two days.  This time around, the scenario looks quite different.  Pankaj Naik, the founder of Aayumi Productions echoes Neogi’s thoughts about sales not being great this year. “Last year was much better,” Naik says. Shuvorup Bhattacharjee, a writer with Aayumi feels that it is the merchandisers who are making the most of the event.  Shuvorup Bhattacharjee (extreme left) and Pankaj Naik (extreme right) at their stall However, breaking from the general consensus was “Sirji Comics”, a comic series launched by a group of four engineering students from Chennai.  The protagonist Sirji is a “visionary” and the comic revolves around the way he sees the society and its issues.  Arun (left) “Comic is the simplest of art forms, but it is also the most effective and is easily understood by all,” says Arun, the scriptwriter of Sirji.  For the “Sirji” group, the response they’ve got in the Comic Con has been outstanding. “We have sold over 220 copies,” says an elated Arun, adding that the next book in the series will be launched in the Hyderabad edition of the event.  Indian vs International: Content and competition From Indrajaal to Amar Chitra Katha and several other publications in between, there is a huge and steady fan base for Indian comic books around the world.  However in showcasing their work on the same platform as international giants like Marvel and DC Comics, do publishers feel the heat of competition? “Though several big Indian comic publishers have shut shop over the years, our comics are always big in demand,” says Bablu Singh who was managing the Raj Comic book store in the event.  “Nagraj and Commando Dhruv are some of our most popular creations and we get orders from as far as the United States,” Singh says.  Mysore Laxman Amarnath of Leo and Capri, which is a set of three stories narrated by two anthropomorphic parrots, encouraging tolerance & co-existence between plants, animals & humans, believes that there’s no age barrier when it comes to reading comics.  ML Amarnath “I grew up reading Asterix and Tintin and I still love them. Comics are something which you either like or you don’t,” he says. Speaking of Indian comics, Amarnath says it will take some time for the Indian content to evolve. “We are used to too much action. But we are doing well in other aspects. Some of the Indian publishers have unbelievably good quality work now,” he adds.  Prabudhha Neogi of Speech Bubble feels that though the Indian comic market is growing, it is still a “haphazard one.”  “The West pays a lot of attention to quality including designing, content, illustration and binding. And we too are now doing that with our books. We will need to breakout of the mythology trend and it will take some time for things to get better here. Mutual support from other brands is also necessary in marketing,” he says.  Artists across the board also seem to be more open to experimenting with newer and different content. “Comic books,” says Aayumi’s Shuvorup Bhattacharjee, “have been in India since 1930. It is coming of age finally. We are also growing out of superheroes. Who likes a good guy anyway?” All photographs taken by Umika Pidaparthy Also Read: Superheroes, comic and anime characters: Cosplaying becomes the cynosure of Comic Con Bangalore

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