The team of Veera the Gaurdian, Nikesh Murli and Vinay brahmania gives us their perpective on the graphic novel and shares some exclusive interior pages with us. ( click them to revel in their full glory!)
1. Where many people shy away from Writing / working from comics, what made you think of doing this project as a graphic novel?
NM:I have been writing and publishing short fiction for over a decade now and I teach fiction writing at university. For me comic books represented a new challenge in story telling because of the unique marriage between images and text.
I am a keen student of story structure and I do a lot of workshops/seminars for budding writers. When the opportunity for Veera came via an open call on COMIX INDIA blog, I jumped at the opportunity because I have been waiting to study the genre for a long time and here was a golden opportunity to combine what I knew about fiction with the conventions of comic books. I devoured books by Alan Moore, Will Eisner and Scott McCloud on the theoretical aspects and went back and studied everything from PREACHER to THE DARK TOWER graphic novel adaptations which have a prominent place on my book shelf.
Working with a major daily like DinaMalar and an uber talented artist like Vinay was something I couldn’t say no too.
V: I accept that not many people want to be writing or drawing comics because its not very economically beneficial yet. The credit of getting nikesh and me together goes to dinamalar. They were launching a weekly magazine for kids, nikesh had a story and I was itching to draw
2. What was the inspiration behind the concept of Veera ?
V: Honestly, The inspiration credit goes to nikesh it is his concept totally I just visualised and drew him
NM: Veera can be described as the hero’s journey in Slum Dog Millionaire + the emotional journey of characters in J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek.
I wanted to add emotional depth to the protagonists while still framing their journeys using Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.
I also wanted to tell a story about children who are neglected and abused, irrespective of the social class they are from, and the strength it takes to face the past while battling the present.
While I have used techniques from comic book storytelling to bring the world of Veera to life, the series is written like a TV show, not only in terms of the 12/season episodic structure, but also the way each issue has been broken, to ensure that there are no boring story beats
I think the positive buzz from the first few weeks have justified my decision to attempt this fusion of dramatic storytelling devices.
3. The synopsis sounds very kid friendly. What is your target audience?
NM: I had strict instructions from DinaMalar that they wanted a series for kids. The impression I got from speaking to the editor was that he was looking for something that was traditional but strong enough in the story department to keep the MICHAEL BAY generation hooked.
4. What do you think is one of the most attractive features about Veera.
NM: I think the emotional journey that the characters undertake will resonate with children and adults alike. Not to mention the awesome action set pieces!
Veera wants to escape his wretched life in the slums and his abusive father but his sense of responsibility and love for his mother and brother, holds him back.
Nayana’s psyche has never healed from the trauma of a childhood event and she doesn’t view the role of a Guardian as a divine duty, but a burden that was imposed on her by the man who rescued her and adopted her as a child.
Vasu does not understand his anger and the sense of disgust he feels towards the poverty and filth that surrounds Veera. He feels responsible for his father’s death and knows deep in his heart that he may never measure up to his father. Add to this, the fact that he is overly protective of Nayana and loathes Veera’s friendship with her, we have the potential for conflict that can be mined for gold over several seasons.
V: I think Murli has explained beatifully, what I can add is the fact that the contrast in Veera’s Character from a humble downtrodden rag picker to being a chosen one is totally fun to see. I love it.
5. How was working with Each other? did you guys argue about certain things or was it a seamless partnership?
V: I feel things went way too smoothly between us. We both saw the concept almost through the same lens. Whatever revisions happened were logical to the story line
NM: I can’t praise Vinay enough for his professionalism and talent. I am in awe of his abilities and the way in which he has visualised my story.
6. Artwise, Why did you guys chose this particular style?
V: Well when it all began I did character sheets for all characters and nikesh was comfortable to take this style to the final drawing board
7. Vinay, your father is associated with Bahadur comics. Any plans of Bahadur in your future?
V: Yeah bahadur was dads dream hero we all loved him very much. I would love to work on bahadur but it is being handled by Mr Abid and my younger brother pramod they are doing good stuff.
8. It’s been some time since its release. How has the response been for Veera?
NM: It is very humbling to be a part of a great tradition of comic book storytelling in India.
I have been informed by the publishers that the response was amazing and that they were inundated with telephone calls and letters, praising the new venture, so much so that Dinamalar printed a thank you in their daily edition to recognise and appreciate the support
Tamil comic book bloggers have said kind things about Veera.
9. You are givin the entire novel for downlaod for free? Whats the idea behind that?
NM/V: It was DinaMalar’s idea. Siruvar Malar, the supplement in which Veera is published, is distributed for free. So it made sense to give it away as a free electronic download. I think it has paved way for increased readership. It looks gorgeous on the IPAD! Btw, the link to download Veera is :here:
10. In 5 lines or less, Why should I read Veera?
NM: If you like epic quests set in fantastical worlds where brave protagonists battle inner and outer demons to find the meaning of what happened in the past and seek a destiny to light their path in the future, you will LOVE Veera! Don’t be fooled by the fantasy tropes, Veera is and always will be about the inner journey of the human psyche.
V: It is a bundle of action adventure and fantasy. It’s a great story and I have tried to do justice to the art I have played with colors to keep it bright and interesting to kids. I promise it is worth a dekho.
9. Whats your next projects?
V: I am individually working on another series of comics for kids (fantasy adventure),one mythological based character series and one mature reader comic about an anti terrorist group. I am planning to complete all three than look for interested publishers
NM: Once the Tamil run is complete, I will be publishing Veera ‘s English edition.Hopefully, Season 2 of Veera. We have just skimmed the surface in terms of exploring the characters and their journeys and we haven’t even met the key players in Kaal, who want the conflict to spill into that world. Without giving away any spoilers, season one is not gift wrapped and delivered to your door in a neat package, it is messy; the Guardian’s have stirred the hornet’s nest. And there will be blood to look forward to.
I am working on a lit fic novel for my PhD and also developing several other novel length projects for YA and children. Also on the lookout for an artist to collaborate on a 7 issue comic book targeted at girls for an American company. If anyone is interested, drop me a line.