The Comic List, Vol. 3
And now, reporting from the homeland!
India has never really had a comic culture. It was always a pastime for kids, and part of the Wheeler stalls and newsstands. And with the back-to-back storming of kids’ imaginations and time by cable, then movies, then the internet, it is understandable that the industry won’t exactly be thriving.
But you’re wrong.
The emergence of both big budget Hollywood adaptations as well as the numerous anime series have led to interest in the source material. Comic Cons are a testament to how interested people are. As of 2010, the comic book industry in India has been estimated to be at $100 million; despite a slump in the popularity of the medium in the initial years of the last decade, the industry is making a comeback. What almost all involved agree with is that, the way forward is digital.
Wait. Let’s go back to the beginning.
The ones we used to see in our childhood, remember those? They are still here; ACK Media has Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha. Diamond Comics has Chacha Choudhary. Raj Comics has Doga and Nagraj and Super Commando Dhruva. Quora has people nostalgic for both, their childhood and these comics.
But with the turn of the century, there were newer, different stories waiting to be told. And stages were set for them to be told. Blaft allowed a Japanese, visiting India for the first time, to share his experiences; Holy Cow Entertainment helped us see Ramayana from Raavan’s perspective; Campfire made Ali Baba get a modern retelling; Phantomville peeked inside the lives of two brothers in Kerala, one of whom gets involved with terrorism. And these are just few of the many.
There has been no lack of imagination; an anthology published in May brought together stories from across the country, encompassing varied voices; Amruta Patil shows us how a lesbian deals with life after losing her significant other. The first Indian graphic novel, widely accepted to be River of Stories (1994), was about the construction of the controversial Sardar Sarovar Dam and how it affected the people living close to it. Corridor, set in 2004, is about a tea vendor in Delhi and the people visiting his shop; heck, Antardwand, a protector of fairy tales and demigods narrates his exploits in Hindi!
The wheel spins.
The upstarts of old have become publishing houses in their own right, while the people waiting to narrate their stories have increased exponentially. Self publishing has emerged as an option; my brother, who is working on his own project, is with Notion Press. And it is not as if there is no precedent for this; Image Comics, said to be the third player behind DC and Marvel in USA, lets the creators retain copyrights over the comics; it just takes a fee for the books published. Plus, if it is about reaching out to prospective customers, again, Comic Con is there to the rescue; here, you can talk and meet and sell your creations.
Come on now. You really do not have an excuse to not tell us that story.
Thanks for staying on the journey : )