The concept of a Comic Book Convention has (finally) arrived in India. In about 10 days time, comic book fans, publishers, writers, and artists from across the country will converge at Dilli Haat for two days at our very own, and very first, Comic Con.
Sure, you can meet the writers and artists who’ve brought you countless tales that kept you busy as a kid. And if you’re a budding artist or a writer, you might have a chance to get a professional assessment of your portfolio or to make a submission. If you’re a collector or avid reader, you could buy a few new comics. Or, perhaps even purchase a doll (which boys call action figures) of your favorite character. And if you’re into networking, then you can definitely meet like-minded people (i.e. the geek brigade).
Yes, you can attend Comic Con for any of those reasons… and all of them are perfectly valid ones. Even if you aren’t into comic books, you could drop in just to see what’s happening. I’m into comic books in a big way… and I will definitely be there… but not for any of the reasons mentioned above. I’m going to see what types of stories are being told, who’s telling them… and who’s reading them. It’s why You should also go.
In India, comic books have always been looked upon as ‘something for kids’. But for the last decade, this would also have held true today. Looking at the history of comic books in India, it’s not surprising that the older generation still believe this. Those of us in our thirties now are witnesses to a shift in the paradigm of graphic storytelling in India. Here’s why.
From the 40′s to the early 80′s, the market offered up a Euro-American choice which included the likes of Laurel & Hardy, the Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Asterix, and Tintin. These were later joined by Indian titles like Bahadur, Tinkle, and the Amar Chitra Katha series. The point here is that the comic books at the time were targeted specifically at kids and designed to suit the not-so-deep pockets of their parents. As one grew up, beyond a certain age, there was simply nothing in the market that would keep a reader interested! So it’s understandable that at least two generations of India automatically connect, and restrict, comic books with childhood.
But these are interesting times we live in. A little over a decade ago, publishers woke up to the fact that there were a bunch of grown-up kids out there who, at one point, were ardent fans of the medium… and all they needed to rekindle that passion was the right type of story with suitable accompanying artwork. This prompted them to bring out the ‘graphic novel’ with significantly more complex and mature plots woven with a higher quality of writing, and illustrated in eye-catching art. It’s because of this realization that we stand where we are today. Albeit it’s still a niche and nascent group… but it’s all the more reason we need to stick together. As the saying goes, there’s safety in numbers.
By attending, you’ll get a broad overview of the comic book scene in India today. And you can tell the publishers what you want to see. This is the most important reason to go – to tell them what you want more of, and what you can do without. It’s vital for the growth of the industry that the Supplier understand the needs of the Consumer. So when you go there, don’t mince words when it comes to giving an opinion. Compliment them… but also help them.
And if you aren’t into comic books, or haven’t read one in a long time, come down and take a look… chances are that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I plan to be there on both days… do catch me if you want to talk comics.