Archive | January, 2011

Exclusive Interview: Vivek Goel on his style of art

23 Jan

We continue our conversation with Vivek!!.. 

Lets talk a little about the art itself. Can you share the process of your artwork with us?
 Artwise, my style is somewhat dark as I work in a lot of darker tones and cross hatching. I mostly got influenced by the new school of art and American comic artists and have been improving my linework as per their influence. The legendary creator Sir Michael Turner is my mentor, although he is no longer between us but he has left a rich legacy for me to draw inspiration from
Ravanayan is going to be very different artistically as it is drawn in the western style of art, with heavy character and background details, a lot of dynamic angles and widescreen storytelling. 
 I draw on super white cartridge sheets with normal HB pencils. Since I don’t have an inker, I use a technique called as tight pencilling where I do pencils dark enough so that they can directly go for digital colouring.
  I get monthly scripts from Vijayendra and I then read it thoroughly to get a clear picture of the complete chapter in my mind, then I sit down and start making thumbnails of each page thereby visualising each panel with the best possible angle and look so as to suit the scenario of the panel.(NOTE : There are endless possibilities of drawing/showing a visual in a panel but it becomes an artist’s duty to pick the best possible angle for every panel depending upon its requirement, we need to move our eyes like a camera so as to decide for either a long shot, a mid shot, a close up or an extreme close up again depending upon the story and page’s requirement, it takes time and practice to get better in it, the more you practice, the more u get experience and the better you become.
I then e mail the thumbnails to Vijayendra for his approval, I consider him my editor and most of the time take his approval over thumbnails so that his thinking gels with mine and happily do the changes he requests for some scenes and then when the thumbnail gets fully approved I proceed for the final pages (NOTE : It is again very important for an artist to work under editorial as it improves him a lot, 2 minds are always better than one resulting into better product.

When drawing totally on our own we often oversee our artistic weaknesses and do only what we want to do but working under editorial makes us draw things we never even imagined we could do when pushed which surprisingly we are capable of doing artistically through proper patience and dedication, it also reduces the chances of drawing the final panels again or any corrections.

  When the pages are drawn, I then again show them to Mohanty for his final approval, the pages then go for digital colouring.
Do you use any references? 
 I hardly take any references nowdays, have been drawing for a very long time now, I mostly do stuff from memory but happily take references for objects and animals when required.

How long does it take to produce a comic page for you?
 Depends upon the details and the no. of panels on a single page which again depends upon the requirements of the script and your own artistic limitations/experiences. It usually takes me 3-7 hours on a single page. I maintain a speed of drawing 1 page a day since I don’t cut on the detailing part.
 Our last question to you Vivek: What do you feel about the current Indian comic scene.?
 Very important and interesting question, I would love to answer that. Indian comic scene is very stable at the moment and we are witnessing a rise but at a very slow pace. The industry is highly disorganised, we need to understand that it’s a full circle, if we are to survive then we need to back each other up.
Comic making is a team effort and no single person can rule this world. People do not trust individuals here. Initial exploitations, family pressures, bad experiences and big ups/downs in careers make the freelance creators really picky. Lot of new ventures come and go, they start up with a lot of vigour, new writers and artists join them and gave their best but most of these ventures couldn’t keep up and were shut down. The work does not shows up and the creators lose their morals in the process, then follows the classic family pressure of securing a stable job and getting a house. 

 Mark my words, there is no shortage of talent here and we have the perfect people to compete with our western counterparts but this is a long race and requires a lot of patience and hardwork to be in mainstream comics. I have seen a lot of promising talent diverting into gaming, concept art and animation due to family responsibilities. 
 But coming back to the current scenario, it’s looking good, although we just have about 4-5 mainstream comic publishing houses in India and just about approx. 25 pencillers working into comics, it is still looking stable for now.
A lot of my peers have published internationally and the American comic market is noticing us. I personally feel that the market/readers have evolved, we need some new stuff now, something fresh, something detailed, we need quality product instead of quantity.   
Thanks for your time Vivek. It was great chatting with you and getting a sneak peak into your creative process!

Stewart’s Slate: Review of Shadowland

21 Jan

Shadowland #1-5 from Marvel Comics. Also available in trade paperback.

Writer: Andy Diggle
Pencils: Billy Tan
Inks: Batt
Colours:Christina Strain/Laura Martin
After taking over the shadowy Hand organisation believing he could use their massive manpower and resources for good, Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil has instead himself been turned towards darkness by their corrupting influence. Looks like it’s time for a big Marvel Event!
Yes, that’s right. Old horn head or “The crimson wimp” as The Punisher has been known to call him has finally gone off down the deep end. Constructing a huge Japanese castle in the middle of Hells Kitchen on the site of a city block destroyed by Bullseye and declaring marshal law throughout the area with his army of Hand ninjas evicting or abducting all gang members, criminals and even the police. It soon becomes clear to the large group of super heroes who assemble to deal with the problem that Matt is no longer completely himself and has become the the victim of demonic interference which has begun to spread outwards from Daredevils stronghold and affect the rest of the city causing riots and civil unrest on a massive scale.

As per usual with all Marvels big events there’s a lot of other parts of the story told in more detail in other ongoing Marvel character titles that bear the Shadowland banner, Shadowland: Moon Knight, Shadowland: Spiderman etcetera, but the main meat of the story takes place in these 5 comics and even though Daredevil isn’t a character I read much and I never found any of it difficult to follow.

If you’re a Daredevil fan then this is pretty much required reading if you want to keep up with what’s going on in his life and in fact the same can be said for any Marvel fans who like to collect all the big stories so they can stay up on all the latest events. Sadly though, this is no Civil War and frankly isn’t up to the standard of any of the main Marvel events over the past few years.

The first issue is quite a lot of fun as the rest of the super hero community realise how much Matt has changed when they witness his showdown with Bullseye but after that it becomes fairly predictable and formulaic as the good guys first attempt to confront him, have to run away, then regroup with a few extra characters and return to save the day just as everything seems at its worst.
It obviously wasn’t even a threat that the Marvel Characters themselves took all that seriously as none of the more major players from The Avengers, Thor, Captain America, Miss Marvel, get involved. Instead leaving it to the more street level heroes like Luke Cage, Moon Knight, Iron Fist and even The Punisher gets involved in all the battles.

I can’t believe just how useless the Hand ninjas are! I’ve been reading Marvel comics for over 20 years and I’ve never once seen them win a fight. They’re like the Battle Droids in Star Wars Episode 1. It would have provided more of a challenge to the heroes if they’d had to climb a big ladder or swim across a moat to get to Daredevil than it did for them to wade through the 300 or so red clad pansies they beat senseless during the course of the story. As big a deal as they all kept making it out to be it still felt like something Iron Man could have sorted out on his own if he’d just had the time.

Having said all that it’s not terrible. There’s plenty of characters in there mixing it up Spiderman, Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Kingpin, Typhoid Mary, Shang-Chi, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing as well as all the other characters I mentioned earlier and most of them get their fair share of good one liners. The art work’s good with all the battles being drawn in an exciting fast paced looking way even if you know they might as well be fighting 8 year olds for all the trouble the Hand ninjas give them. And finally although it’s not a story that “Changes the Marvel Universe forever!” like the other events prior to this one, things do change around a little by the end creating some good possibilities for stories in the future.
Not bad but not great either. 
SCORE 6/10

Shadowland:After The Fall one-shot from Marvel Comics
Writer: Antony Johnston
Art: Roberto De La Torre/Marco checchetto
Colours: Morry Hollowell
A short epilogue to Shadowland where two people, Reporter Ben Urich and Detective Alex Kurtz, both attempt to track down Matt Murdock but for completely different reasons. Ben, for a story and Alex to arrest him.

There’s no action in this comic whatsoever as the two set about questioning Daredevils friends and associates  in an effort to track him down but honestly it’s far better than the Shadowland story itself. They talk to various characters some super powered, some not, some just plain cops who police Hells Kitchen. Some in favour of tracking him down, some not, some who seem to forgive him for his apparent failure and some who don’t. Emotionally there’s far more going on in this one comic than went on in all 5 issues of the main Shadowland story and the artwork is fantastic! Full of character with brilliant lighting affect and shadows. Hells Kitchen really comes to life in the pages of this comic.
As the epilogue to a forgettable story I was fully prepared for this to suck balls but it turned out to be the best part to the story I read.
SCORE 8/10

Exclusive Preview: Level 10 Teases Manga inspired work

20 Jan
Here are two exclusive Images that Level 10 has kindly shared with me:

This was labeled as : Roudrakinda

And this one as Nagavenni

What could it all mean? You know as much as I do at the moment. Expect some more revelations from Level 10 soon!

My own speculation is that is from the upcoming manga inspired project that Level10 announced some time ago! If yes, then these characters fit right in the manga genre. If not, then what could it be all about?

What are your initial impressions ? Share with us!

M Views: Review of Shotgun Sharma & Chappan Churi (Jump vol 6)

19 Jan

Shotgun Sharma and Chappan churi

Plot: The adventures two hard luck detectives find themselves into when they are tasked to find mother of a little girl who seems to have disappeared.
Okay, let me quickly get this out of my system – I LOVE THIS SERIES! It reminds me of “Motu-Patlu” and similar kind of comics. This is a complete entertainer – take a movie like andaz apna apna, run it through lethal weapon , spray just a little bit of sholay on top and you have SSCC!
This is just the kind of quirky little whimsical series that I enjoy very much. There is so much to love in this series , I just don’t know where to begin. I have chosen to be brief about this series when describing the plot because I want everyone to read it. Anything I say would not even begin to describe the nitty gritties of this comic , which is what makes this series enjoyable.
The titular characters Shubangi ( chappan churi) and Balchandra Sharma ( Shotgun Sharma) are the last people you would expect the protagonist to be like. Shubhangi is perhaps the most a-sexual female I have seen in comics and Mr Sharma is short and stout!  This itself tells you the kind of series you are getting into. However don’t mistake them for incompetent fools, this duo though don’t look the part, acquit themselves beautifully in crunch situations ( however hilarious)
It only gets better as it proceeds. You get egregious dialogues, some really hilarious situations ( mine is the interrogation scene  with Sharma), crazy villains, stipid motives, self deprecating humor, brave heroes and a gunshot to someone’s bum! ( reminded me of Gintama here)
Nothing I write here is going to even come close to the enjoyment I got from reading this. So just go out and sample this for yourself. You would thank me for it. There are even references to other comics and characters and the one about Batman was hilarious!
It is ofcourse obvious that I have become enamored with this series, but it is not without its fault.
The story is paper thin and like the other series in this anthology hits some standard story beats. If the dialogues and actions wouldn’t have been this funny, this experiment could have turned out so wrong. Luckily though it didn’t. But going forward I would expect some more character development and a slightly more involved plot.
The artwork is clearly manga inspired, yet not quite manga. I think we are seeing an original take which mixes manga sensibilities with older art styles of traditional Indian humor comics like biloo,pinki etc. I am as yet quite unsure of what to make of this style.  I think its going to be a while before I get used to this kind of art .
Having said that, I think the artwork can use some polish, especially when it comes to action scenes.
 Another thing I noticed in the art was the lack of backgrounds. There are hardly any backgrounds at all!! What’s up with that? I understand that Shreyas was the first to submit the completed series to Level 10 well before the deadline. I wish he would have taken the extra time to work on the artwork and background details. It would have made a great series even greater.
One last thing that I wanted to point out is that even though shubangi is supposed to be anti thesis to those comic women out there with huge busts , slim waist and short clothes. She should still at least look Female! At the moment, if Balchandra haven’t told me her sex, I wouldn’t have figured out that she was a female.
And what’s with the Kurta Pyjama? How many females do you see wearing kurta pyjama like that – 36B or no 36 B?
Having said all this, let me reiterate: I Love this eccentric series! Period.
Let’s have the next one! Soon!

Deciphering DC: From Crisis to Zero hour

18 Jan

Through this column we plan to review and analyze every major event within DCU since COIE, in the hopes that this becomes a  road map of sorts to the continuity laden streets of DCU. 
If you are an old fan, come enjoy reminiscing with us through the good and the bad DC had to offer.
If you are an old fan getting back into comics , let us help you get upto date sequentially
If you are a new fan you will get our help in unraveling the mysteries of current DCU
If you are not reading DC comics, let us tell you why you should be.

– Article by Aalok joshi
-Edited by Manks

Well, now that the Crisis is done, and we have also had a look at the origin of DC’s premier super hero, what next?

Now we have a look at what the DC Universe went through in the years from 1986-1994, when the actual ‘second’ crisis, ZERO HOUR-CRISIS IN TIME took place.

Superman was looming strong with all work primarily done by John Byrne for the next few years. He was joined by top talent like Roger Stern, Jerry Ordway, Dan Jurgens and later Louise Simonson bringing the “triangle era”-where the story continued weekly, through all of Superman’s Magazines rather than monthly, through the same title.

Notable events in this period include:
-The reworking of Superboy into the Superman mythos, also substantiating the appearance of Superboy in the Legion of Super Heroes.
-The reworking of Supergirl into the Superman mythos, working on the same concept as Superboy. The story ends with Superman taking a guilt trip over breaking his oath never to take a human life.
-Clark reveals to Lois that he is Superman, shortly after his engagement to her.
-The introduction of Metallo, Parasite, Brainiac, Mongul, Eradicator, Waverider, Emil Hamilton, Bibbo &  Sleez.
-Bringing back the Guardian & the Newsboy Legion
-Luthor losing his hand to Kryptonite poisoning, dying and returning as Lex Luthor II
-Doomsday & the Death and Return of Superman
SUPERGIRL, SUPERBOY and STEEL all got their own series.

Before the Death of Superman, most of the material save for the 1st year of Superman was not collected, or the collections are out of print today.

BATMAN was featured in DETECTIVE COMICS & BATMAN. In addition to Frank Miller & David Mazuchelli, other creators who worked on Batman at this time were Mike Barr, Alan Davis, Max Alan Collins, Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, Peter Milligan, Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan, Doug Moench, Alan Grant & Norm Breyfogle. 

Two new titles were introduced. ROBIN was featured in three miniseries until he got his own title. CATWOMAN was also given a title. After the success of the animated series a new series began called THE BATMAN ADVENTURES. 

Notable events include:
-Introduction of the New Robin: Jason Todd, followed soon by his death at the hands of the Joker.
-The Joker cripples Barbara Gordon.
-Introduction of the Barbathos/Bat demon myth.
-Introduction of King Snake, Bane, Ventriloquist & Scarface, Zsasz, Anarky, Azrael & Spoiler amongst others
-Bane breaks the Batman’s back after which the mantle of Batman gets passed on to Azrael (Jean Paul Valley). 

Collections, again were very sporadic with most except the few notable ones being out of print.

Wonder Woman was featured in only one title with relatively less events than the other titles, leading to relatively less collected editions. To date only 4 volumes of the Early George Perez work  have been printed in collected form and he is the Guy who helmed the restart of Wonder Woman series.

Other mainstream DC characters were introduced shortly, a few in their own ongoing series, a few in mini series similar to MAN OF STEEL:

Almost all of them got their own ongoings shortly. A few second tier characters like ELONGATED MAN & METAMORPHO were given their own mini series.

The DC universe crossovers were on a high, with all the Annuals in a particular year based on a theme or some significant continuity:
1991- ARMAGEDDON 2001

In addition to these there were other crossovers but no time bending or reality warping events till 1994.

The crossovers are the ones which do feature more than one title character across a number of books but do not establish new continuity. 

The reality warping events are crossovers which establish new continuity or correct old continuity. The recent BLACKEST NIGHT is a fine example of the former, while all CRISES are examples of the latter. 

The crossovers in this period include:

New titles and series were on a creative high, as were new looks and revamps of lesser known characters, quite a lot of which were collected for the first time just very recently. New titles and new directions include:

What would later go on to be the powerhouse known as Vertigo had its humble beginnings in the DCU proper, as early as the Early 80s SWAMP THING by ALAN MOORE. There were a lot of Suggested for Mature Readers titles then, which were later brought under Vertigo or their collections are reprinted recently under the Vertigo banner. Notable titles include:

Well, I’ve provided a rough picture of what the DC universe was like in those days. Reviews of must read and notable stuff, with details on what to read which was never collected in trades, and total summaries will soon follow.

Coming up next:

M Views : Review of Daksh (Jump vol 6)

16 Jan


Published in : Jump vol 6 by Level 10
Writer – Shamik Dasgupta
Art: Biboswan Bose
Colors: Neeraj Menon

(For preview and some inside news about Daksh go here and here!)
 Daksh – a half human/half demon offspring of Yama (the king of  hell) and a human princess of a bygone era lets his feelings for a doomed woman in hell distract him from his duties resulting in the escape of many scores of  “sinner” souls to the world.
He is banished form hell by Yama and tasked to bring back all the escapees by killing them again on earth . Till he does that his doomed lover would endure torture at the hands of yamdoots! And so begins Daksh’s journey in our world.
We all know that this series has been embroiled in a bitter controversy over the copyright issue of the character Daksh. So the future of the character is uncertain, but if this continues by the same creators, this has the potential to be a hugely entertaining series.
Before I talk about the story, let me give a standing ovation to Biboswan bose for creating some outstanding visuals. What makes Daksh stand out instantly from the other offerings of this anthology is the beautiful work done by Bibo. And knowing that he is only 21 years old only makes this achievement much more significant. Mark my words, if the Indian publishers won’t be able to hold him due to any reason, I wont be surprised if we see his work published by foreign publishers sometime in the future when he is more polished.

The  character of Daksh definitely has dark shades to it. Shamik wasn’t exaggerating when he said Daksh is going to be a first for the Indian comic scene.
The series merges Judeo-christian mythology with Indian, at the end of which it is faithful to neither, but damn if it isn’t entertaining. Some people though might not be happy with the irreverence displayed towards a certain mythological tale!
The escaped prisoners include personalities like – Hitler, Genghis Khan, Mussolini etc. Imagine the possibilities when Daksh goes against them. At one end , it could be a fun action romp at other there could be meaningful questions raised about life and it’s rewards.
The series could become very potent if the author choses to incorporate the personality traits of each of the aforementioned historical sinners/bad guys in the inevitable battles.
 I think it would be doing injustice to the character if he is just created for a flimsy action story and fails to raise some deeper questions.
Due to the nature of the anthology, this story is mostly setup. Although it’s a well done setup. What will make or break Daksh  is what comes next. We are still learning about his powers and the world he resides in.
Junglee B
What irked me a little was a couple of diologues needlessly spoken in hindi! In my opinion if the entire comic is in one language , then it is assumed that people within the comic are versed in that language. The world created within this comic is the one where people use English to communicate. So why use hindi?
Another peeve of mine was the character of Junglee B. I am sorry, but I don’t see women in India wearing the attire in slum areas! I think her appearance was just an excuse to include a hot female ( like our film industry these days! Shiela – here’s looking at you!)
At the end though it is a by the numbers well done action tale for now, which does the job it is supposed to do: create a new Indian superhero unlike that present in Indian market and give us enough of a teaser to create demand for more.
I want this series to continue despite the controversy and I hope the character of Daksh develops from a single note brawler to a complex one. Where do you stand?

Stewart’s Slate: Review of Ultimate Avengers 2 : Crime and Punishment

13 Jan

Ultimate Avengers 2: Crime and Punishment
Collects Ultimate Comics: Avengers 2 #1-#6
Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Lenil Francis Yu

Review by Stewart Loud

I’m a big Mark Millar fan and I’m a huge Punisher fan so when I spotted this on a shelf in a comic shop in Leeds I had to own it!
Mark Millar writing a Punisher story is a bit of a dream come true for me and the opening section of the book is mainly Punisher related criminal murdering shenanigans, with the Punishers trademark cold,dry dialogue and inner monologue expertly written by Miller so I wasn’t disappointed. Also the Ultimate version of Frank Castle is an ex cop so it’s nice to have a fresh version of the Punisher to get in to. However, the book isn’t solely about him so here’s what else you can expect.
The basic premise of the story is that Ghost Rider has been setting fire to the wrong people so the U.S. government has commissioned Nick Fury to do something about it. Nick puts together a covert team of super powered individuals including War Machine, Hawkeye, a crazy black English version of The Hulk and none other than the Punisher himself wearing a costume just like the one he wore in his brief fill in for Captain America in Punisher War Journal vol 2. Obviously someone thought that suit was too cool not to get another outing. Unsurprisingly there are frictions in the team as the group of misfits and criminals  try to work together for the first time and take down this new supernatural foe they know nothing about.
This is another good fun book. To be honest the first half is much better than the second and ultimately it doesn’t seem to deliver as much action and excitement as the beginning seems to make you think you’re in for but it’s not a bad story at all. If you’re a fan of the Ultimate universe (this is the first Ultimate story I’ve read apart from some of the Marvel Zombies stuff) then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this and as a newcomer to the Ultimate universe I found it easy to pick up and enjoyable to read so it’s probably a good place for anyone else to start.
Sharp artwork, good dialogue and surprisingly violent in places. Fantastic “Little joke” from the Punisher too.
SCORE 7/10