Archive | October, 2011

Men of Strategy

31 Oct


Not often will you come across comics of this style. Even in manga, this particular type of manga is rare. I have encountered very few of its ilk, and have greedily sought out other works which I might consider similar. The reason for my vagueness shall be made clear, for this style of manga that I am talking of is not really an existing genre. The artwork is unique, in its duplication of the real world. Not a manga of handsome heroes then. Come on, take a walk down any street. How many movie star beautiful people will you see out there?

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A Big Halloween Treat: An Interview with How It Should Have Ended

30 Oct
Since most everyone who reads Comic Addicts is too old to go trick or treating we decided to give a big ol’ treat anyway. We were able to have a chat with the folks at How It Should Have Ended (HISHE). They were really cool folks who were happy to chat with us.
For those unfamiliar with HISHE it’s a couple of guys, and a gal, who decided that movies didn’t always end the way they felt they should have. So they started doing their own parody endings much to the amusement of many people. We here at Comic Addicts were curious about some of the things over at HISHE and here is what they had to say:

How do you make your movies?

Each cartoon takes at least 3 weeks. We usually spend one week on script writing and primary art (characters we know we are going to use despite the script). Then one week on all the rest of the art and depending on the scope, we would start animating this week as well. It is also during the second week that we do our voice recording, which has to happen before animating so that we have a timeline. Week 3 is final animation, sound editing, and music score. Plus all the graphics. A lot of times this 3 week schedule requires late nights and weekends, so it’s a lot of work.


Is there a storyboard involved?

Yes, we storyboard after we have finalized a script so that we know exactly what art we need to make.



What program (s) do you use?

Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, Adobe After Effects, Final Cut



How much planning goes into a movie?

Definitely depends on the movie. There are some cartoons where we know months in advance that we are going to tackle it, so the conversations on scripts start early. Others (like recent theater releases– Avatar, Thor, etc.) we only have a short period of time so there are a lot of late nights.



Are there any audio outtakes from you guys goofing around?

Ha-ha. Sure, there are definitely some funny voice recordings as you might imagine.



Any plans to post the outtakes?

Now that we’ve committed to releasing a new video every Thursday on Youtube, you will definitely be seeing some more behind the scenes stuff. We will probably compile some outtakes. It’s tough since we are not necessarily accustomed to being on camera. J



Now that you’re a web sensation is there more pressure than before when you were doing it just for fun?

Um, YES.



Is it difficult sometimes to be funny?

Yes. The nature of what we do makes it tough sometimes because finding a logical flaw in a film is not always hilarious too. We go through a LOT of re-writes and ultimately we do our best. Different cartoons will lean one way or another sometimes as a result (between logic and silliness).



Are there arguments over how the movie should be?

LOL. What an insightful question. Yes, we definitely disagree sometimes, but ultimately some of our best writing comes from wrestling through different opinions.



Do you sit on pins and needles after a movie gets put up to see how people will react to it?

It’s like you’ve spied on us!! Absolutely. We’re our worst critics. Comments are sometimes really harsh and it’s difficult not to be affected by them. Seeing how a new release does is a big deal around here.



We notice there are a lot of comic book parodies on there, granted there are a lot of comic book movies, but honestly, how big of comic geeks are you?

Truthfully we’re a little late to the party when it comes to comics and ultimately we’re spoofing the movies not the books. But we started going to the San Diego Comic Con 4 years ago and each year we pick up a little more. We’re definitely not experts, but we’re becoming fans for sure.



Has there ever been an issue with copyright over the movies?

No, we definitely fall into parody law. All our art and music is original and meant to be a spoof or a parody.



Has any of the movie studios gotten on your back for what you do?

Not at all. We’ve even received some fun feedback. We have a few friends at Pixar and found out our Toy Story HISHE circulated the building there and the director for Toy Story 3 even tweeted about it!



How big is your fan base?

It’s hard to be exact. As of today (Oct. 11, 11) we have 480,000 subscribers on youtube.



Were you ever inspired by Mystery Science Theater 3000?

Of course! I would say lots of forms of skit and parody comedy have influenced us. Daniel watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 in college and he and his friends definitely laughed at the way they heckled films. I’d say our style is very much influenced by that form of comedy.



What has been the craziest moment or thing to happen at HISHE?

Winning the Streamy Award in 2010 was pretty crazy for us. We were shocked and honored to be among the other nominees.



Any plans for the future for HISHE? Hints maybe?

Hmmm… a hint. Well, we’ll definitely finish off the original Star Wars trilogy. And I imagine we’ll also tackle at least one of the major comic book films coming out next summer.

Thanks a lot for the chat! It’s been fun talking with you folks and keep up the good work!

Visit How It Should Have Ended’s website and suscribe to them on YouTube for the latest videos as well as favorites.

Rajat Reviews: Muhmmad Ali: The King of the Ring by Campfire

26 Oct

Who on earth has been aliveanytime in the last 50 odd years and hasn’t heard of the King of the Ring?Muhammad Ali, the one true champion of the masses.
Campfire brings to us thelegend of Ali in the form of a captivating graphic novel written by Lewis Helfandand beautifully illustrated by Lalit Kumar Sharma and it was launched in theComic Con Express along with Jungle Book.
Ali is considered to be a truechampion and one of the greatest sportsmen ever by many critics.
He was not only a Boxer butalso a philanthropist and a social activist. Ali, as most of us would know, wasborn Cassius Clay, but converted to Islam after joining the Nation of Islam outof protest against racial discrimination, which was predominant and popular inthe 60s in America, despite several laws and social protests against any formof racial prejudice.
Ali has been a legend and aninspiration to people of all ages and era, and not without reason.

Lewis Helfand has done afantastic job of compacting the immensely colorful like of Ali in a slightlyless than 100 page comic, which was then brought to life by none other than ourvery own resident genius, Lalit Kumar Sharma.

Click on the image to view full size

The first page of the graphicnovel seemed to me, immensely popular and not without reason. Campfire had organizeda competition where the aspiring artists were given a copy of the script forpage 1 and they had to draw their own interpretation based on that script.
We, at Comic Addicts, hadhosted an event in conjunction with Campfire and Mocha Trip where Lalit hadorganized a workshop to talk about composition, the making of a comic book andthe likes and we were also witness to some amazing art work from the MuhammadAli Art Attack Contest participants!
Click to view full size. Copyright Campfire
The story of Ali’s life is asinteresting as it is complex and Lewis has done a commendable job to bring itto us in a form which is easily understandable without losing its realsignificance and the finely hidden meaning behind Ali’s struggle and the thingshe did, the way he did it, and why he did it.
The book starts with the lifeof the young Cassius Clay, who although not as poor as many other blacks in thesame period, but had to endure the racial treatment which was displayed towardsall blacks in the 60s America. They were not allowed in Hotels, were seatedonly at the back of the Buses, and not allowed to work at several places, apartfrom the general preference of picking up white folks for pretty much anythingthat was considered worth doing.
Clay was initially puzzled andlater angry by this sort of treatment and even at that young age, you could seethe determination of the young boy to fight back against any kind ofdiscrimination.
No larger size available
He finds his mentor in the formof a kind hearted policeman Joe Martin who took Clay under his wing and gavehim the path and the direction he so desperately required to fulfil the destinyhe had selected for himself.
Martin not only taught him thebasics of boxing but also gave him important lessons about the right thing andthe wrong thing to do. He was a major influence on Clay, early on in his life.
Clay starts from the verybottom and rises up in the world of amateur boxing and then semi-professionalfollowed by an unknown entry in the Rome Olympicsin 1960, with Martin as his Coach.
Clay not only rose steadily, hewent ahead and WON the Olympic Gold Medal for Light Heavy-weight Boxing. Lateron he threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River after beingrefused service at a ‘whites-only’ restaurant, and fighting with a white gang.
Clay realized that his winningthe Olympic Gold did not grant him an automatic entry to the world of the“superior” white people and to find an understanding, if not an immediate solution;he joined the Nation of Islam under Malcolm X. Clay then changed his name toCassius X and then to Muhammad Ali.
This raised a lot ofcontroversies and many fans and critics admonished this change, but Ali, likethe true champion he was, just went on and on with his Wins and silenced hiscritics.
The story takes us through thelife and professional career of Ali as he makes up his way to the Championshipand is crowned the undefeated champion of the Boxing World.
We are walked through some ofthe most interesting matches in his career, like the bout with Joe Frazier,George Foreman and Ken Norton. Lalit has done a wonderful job with thefantastic artwork depicting the fight scenes with finesse and awesome detail.
We get to hear all the famousphrases of Ali, like “I’m the greatest, I’m the prettiest, I’m the best”, “I’mthe king”, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and many others (Yes. I’mnot giving everything away!!)
We also come to know about thelater part of Ali’s life and the work he did for society and sports in generaland is still doing his part, despite being riddled by Parkinson’s and sufferingvarious injuries in the course of his career.
This graphic novel is a keepand worth every penny. A great, sorry the Greatest Subject, coupled with agripping script and very well done artwork makes The King of the Ring a bookworth buying and keeping.
So go and get it for yourselfTODAY! I say Yay!

Blame!Blame!Blame!

24 Oct

BLAME!

As in, the sound effect accompanied with the thought of a gun being fired off. Not blame. Today we go for an acknowledged classic. Tsutomu Nihei’s masterwork, Blame!. Although it ties into a whole lot of side stories and even a One shot or Two, I still like to consider the series itself as stand alone. Allows the story a lot of legroom, space to breathe. Leaves a whole lot of questions unanswered. And you know what? I kinda like it that way. Blame!, or Adventure seeker Killy in the Cyber Dungeon Quest if you prefer is a story told in stark monochromes. Not just in the color scheme. Which yes, indeed is monochrome.

The protagonist wakes up somewhere in an endless dungeon known only as ‘The City’. Endless or at least so massive, so as to seem endless. A focus is granted to the story by means of a search, a quest if you may. Killy as our hero is known, is searching for someone. He has been searching for so long that perhaps he has even forgotten what it is he searches for. Yet he continues. His search is for Net Terminal Genes, a possibly extinct genetic marker that will allow humans access to the Netsphere again. In a world where most humanity has regressed to neo tribal structure his search is almost hopeless.

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Comicon Express Mumbai : A Comic Addict’s journey from Delhi to Mumbai

22 Oct

It was a Friday night (yesterday, apparently) and the world was partying, while I was in the office, trying to wrap up my work as soon as possible so that I could go back home and finish my packing. After all, I was leaving Delhi early morning for Mumbai to attend the Comic Con Express – Mumbai representing Comic Addicts
Try hard as I might, it was 11.30pm before I could leave my office and reached home at 12.15am, past midnight, and was dead tired. Took an hour to pack up, another hour to grab a bite and rest my feet for a while and do my part of the preparation for the Comic Con. It was almost 3.30am by the time I was done, and the reporting time for our flight was 5.30am, so I decided not to close my eyes, coz if I did, I was pretty certain that I would miss the flight.
 At 5am I called Mayank and from his greeting it was certain that he had just got up!!! I told him to hurry up and left for the Airport. I reached at 5.30am and strolled around a bit and try to get some fresh air, for a change. I was expecting these guys to arrive any second. At 5.45am I called Mayank and he told me that he was just leaving his house!

Are you kidding me??? The boarding time was 6.30am! I took the PNR number and got the tickets, had 2 coffees while I waited for them. I was almost ready to just go and check in so that at least one of us would be there at the Con! Thankfully just as I was ready to walk in, a car stopped and out stepped the 2 addicts! Phew!

The Amazing sea link bridge
Cut. Check In. Cut Deposit Luggage. Cut Security Check. Cut. The idiots made me take my boots off. Cut. Final Call. Cut. Run. Cut. RUN HARDER. Cut. Running with my boots in one hand and the bag in the other. Cut. Just entered the feeder. Cut. Tied the boots while people stared at me as if I was a terrorist.  Cut. Finally got our seats. Cut. Stupid Security Drill. Cut. Take Off. Cut. Last minute Discussions. Cut. Final checks. Cut. Deepika Dozed off. Cut. Mayank too. Cut. I didn’t. Cut. Watched an episode of True Blood to keep myself awake. Cut. Landed in Mumbai. Cut. Got a taxi. Cut. Long way to the other side of the town. Cut. Hot Mumbai. Cut. Humid Mumbai. Cut. Crossed the magnificent Sea Link Bridge thingy. Cut. Thought it was a little narrow for a densely populated city like Mumbai (what were they afraid of? Stretching in the Sea, for God’s sake!!). Cut. Checked with a shop keeper. Cut. Reached the World Trade Centre. Cut. Wrong Gate. Cut. U Turn. Cut. Right Gate. Cut. Or so we thought. Cut. Got out of the taxi. Cut. Forgot my shirt. Cut. Went to the gate. Cut. Wrong gate. Cut. Right Gate. Cut. Enter: Comic Con Express –Mumbai!
The inauguration ceremony 
Oh man. What a sight it was! I was tired like a dog who had been pulling an ice sledge for the last 48 hours on my way here, just trying so hard not to sleep and as soon as I entered (which was from the Service Entrance, by the way), the first sight the hit me was a HUGE Avengers poster!!!
Zap. Sleep? What sleep!?! Tired? Who’s tired? Hurting? You can’t hurt me. I am Batman!
Headbangers Merchandise
Avengers blew my sleep and body ache! Next sigh, Headbangers Merc! Metallica, Slayer, Ozzy, Judas Priest Tee Shirts. Metallica Action Figures. Badges. Wallets. Everything Heavy and everything METAL.
That’s it. Who could even think of sleep after that??? Mayank and Deepika set up our stall while I went to wash my face and change in the Comic Addicts costume. It was such a rush meeting some old friends, some new ones, several ones for the first time after the Delhi Comic Con in Feb this year.
Akshay Dhar and Vivek Goel 
Saw Vijayendra Mohanty (Ravanayan), Vivek Goel (Holy Cow!), Akshay Dhar (Fellow Addict – Core Member no less, Retrograde, Werehouse), Shamik Dasgupta (another fellow Addict, Ramayana 3392 AD), one and only Kshiraj Telang (do I really need to introduce???), Abhijit Kini (UdBiMa!!!) and MANY other familiar faces.

Bombay Merch 

The good folks from Pop Culture were running all over the place trying to make sure that the cogs were running smoothly and that there were no gaps, nothing missing and basically plugging any last minute gaps. I was very pleased to meet some of our Bombay Correspondents, who had been introduced virtually – online but had never met in person. The cool Addicts who were holding the fort in Mumbai, and all of them have been doing a brilliant job, I must say, are: Aalok, Anubhav, Ashutosh and later joined by the funnyman Vinay and another really helpful volunteer and an honorary Addict, Aakash. Finally we set up the stall and your truly went for a prowl, both to click pictures for the viewing pleasure of all you good folk back home, who couldn’t attend this awesome event and of course, to scout goodies for myself 😀
I saw some really cool cosplayers and was pleasantly surprised! I was a little apprehensive after realizing the location of the venue that probably people might be reluctant to come all the way here just to attend a comic con, but I am SO glad to find out that I was utterly and completely wrong and I had severely underestimated the Comic fans in Mumbai!
Please consider this as a public apology for ever having doubted your dedication and love for the Comic books and all things comic!
Cosplayers!!

There were girls and guys dressed as Fred Flintstones, Naruto, Snow White, Hit Girl, She Hulk (YES, You better believe it and see the pics if you don’t believe me), an awesome Darth Vader, Asterix and MANY MANY more coming in by the minute!

Indian comic industry together with Comic Addicts team
The event kick started with small introduction and lightening of the lamp by the Mr Prem Kamath, Head of Channel V, India. Coincidentally one of the first events of the day was a presentation by Comic Addicts! So ALL the Addicts present took the stage, growled the calling call to gather all geeks and Mayank delivered a power packed and fun filled presentation, taking the audience through the whole idea of Comic Addicts, what, why, when who and where, discussing all aspects we aim to cover and the expectations our fans have with us and what all do we aim to deliver in the coming months! Believe it or not, but our presentation ended with representatives from Vimanika, Level 10, Holy Cow, Pop Culture and Campfire on the stage, together for the FIRST TIME EVER!!! Yes, You’ll probably want to see the pictures before taking my word for it, won’t you??
Our presentation was pretty well received and people started flocking towards our little stall to find out more about us, which felt nice, if I may say so.
I started the whole clicking pictures and explaining people about Comic Addicts. I tried to cover as many cosplayers as possible. Some of them were just brilliant and these addicts need all the encouragement they can get!

Launch of Retrograde
After a while Akshay’s magnum opus Retrograde was launched by VJ Manish and Juhi from Channel V. That was followed by none other than Karan Vir taking over the stage and introducing people to Vimanika, and launching his new publication titled Shiva: The Legend of the Immortal. This was accompanied by a very cool soundtrack for Shiva, joined by a live performance by Shahbaz Mansoory on percussions. And guess who decided to join us in the middle of the presentation? None other than the Lord Shiva himself!!! Yes, I know. We have pics to prove it, so have some faith, won’t you?

Sufi Comics

There was also a nice session by Sufi Comics, Green Gold Animation, which I am sorry to say, couldn’t cover in their entirety because of a sudden influx of dozens of Cos Players who demanded all my attention. Especially someone familiar, who was dressed as none other than Captain Jack Sparrow! Last Con’s winner Daanish, who was dressed as Jafar, was dressed as Jack Sparrow and looked absolutely AWESOME! Initially I thought it was one of those official Disney Costumes, one can order for a fortune from their website, but Capt’n Sparrow took me through each part of his costume and explained how he used different things to look like something else! The sceptic in me scrutinized EVERY part of his costume in the minutest details and believe me, if I am nothing if not a critic and cynic and if I was finally convinced about the authenticity of the costume being handmade, it HAS to be genuine! It was just mind blowing! No wonder he was one of the most popular Cos players this time around too!

Wonder Bai
Oh, how could I forget something so cool!?! Duh! We also had a sizzling hot Wonder Bai between us too!!! She is the Mascot of this Comic Con Express and was a fantastic looking cos player who totally loved her part!
The crowd kept trickling in and there were around 2000 odd people by around 3.00pm. We then had a nice session by the good folks at Level 10 who introduced us with Batu Gaiden and we also saw a kickass trailer of a Batu Gaiden ANIME!! YES!! That’s in the pipeline folks and from the previews it looks totally awesome!!!

Session with Aabid Surti
This was then followed by a very very interesting session with none other than legendary Aabid Surdi, who needs no introduction! He is one of the pioneers and a living legend of the Indian Comic Industry. He has created characters like Dabbu Ji and Bahadur and he shared his amazing experiences with us, including some very interesting facts about Osho and Raj Kapoor being fans of Dabbu Ji and Inspector Azad!
After the captivating interview / session, we were visited by some surprising guests. Bade, Chotte and Bhigi Billi from the music channel 9xM who declared the winner of the Cosplay!
The 3rd place was by Tarzan, 2nd by Jack Sparrow and the 1st by Nighcrawler!
Yes, you heard me. There was a Night Crawler, a Tarzan, A Rogue and MANY other awesome cos players!
By the time today’s proceedings ended, I am pretty sure we were visited by more than 4500 people!!! Which was an astounding and surprisingly pleasant number of people!

AGNI

The day closed with a performance of the band AGNI!!

Your humble correspondent (ok, NOT so humble after all) is dead tired but still not sleepy somehow! I just can’t for tomorrow!!! We have so many cool events lined up for Day 2 (sadly the final one too) and those who are in Mumbai and were unfortunate enough to not turn up today, this is an excellent opportunity for you to come and have the time of your life.
Trust me. Golden Kela Awards by Cyrus Broacha, Session with InkFruit.com, launch of Jungle Book, Preview of Amar Chitra Katha’s Sons of Ram, session with Holy Cow Entertainment and MANY more cool events are lined up for Day 2 and if you miss this, despite being in the city, I indeed pity thee!

Signing off… Dead Man Ridge!

Anime Review Presents – SAMURAI CHAMPLOO

20 Oct

 
Konnichiwa minna!

Has everyone been indulging liberally in anime while I was gone? Your oujo sama spends a lot of time watching anime and reading manga, and tends to get lost in those worlds – all for you! All so that I have recommendations that people will enjoy. Ready for what I have this week?
Samurai Champloo is an old anime, originally aired in 2004, and ever since it’s debut continues to remain one of the classics in the field. Set in the ‘Edo’ period, the story is centered around Fuu, a 15-year-old girl who works in her uncle’s teahouse. A random series of encounters bring her together with two ronin – Jin and Mugen – whose lives she saves, only to insist they help her find ‘the samurai who smells of sunflowers’. Though vague initially, the antics of the characters keep you sufficiently entertained, until just enough of the central plot is revealed to make you wonder what’s going on.

Don’t let the simple “samurai” tag fool you. Every episode has a surprise, coupled with the traditional badass sword fights. What makes Champloo different from your average Shogunate period, katana-wielding samurai anime is the characters. Jin partly plays up to the stereotype of the undefeated sword-master with a dark past. But Mugen is a different kettle of fish altogether. The definition of Samurai only barely applies to this rogue who – in addition to using his sword – bites, kicks and slaps his way through his enemies. And his enemies aren’t always the bad guys. He itches to take on anything he comes across that may be remotely stronger than him. Mental? Absolutely.
The most startling factor is probably the inclusion of hip-hop in the series. The very first episode opens with an odd style of rapping which makes the viewer sit up and take notice. After that one comes across myriad references to rap, retro, graffiti and even Van Gogh! Perhaps in any other anime, or as part of another storyline these symbols might not have made sense, but they fit right into the madness that is Samurai Champloo.
My favourite part about the anime is undoubtedly it’s soundtrack. With every track beautifully executed, there are some fantastic hip-hop numbers on the album,in addition to the usual and typical anime style themes. Within a few episodes, you’ll be left scrambling to find the whole soundtrack and listen to it in one go.

Still not convinced? It’s been directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop and Animatrix fame. Do I see you nodding there? Now you see what I’m getting at. Give it a shot. You won’t need more than the first episode to get hooked. And you’ll find another jewel to add to your collection.
I shall be back next week, with yet another anime to recommend – meanwhile, have a look at our Mumbai Comic Con Express Updates! You don’t wanna miss it!

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEWS: Zombie Talkies!

19 Oct

Welcome my friends to yet another round of awesome previews and news for you as we inch closer and closer to this weekends sure-to-be-awesome Comic Con Express in Mumbai!

Today we bring you another crazy comic that will be launching at the Convention, ZOMBIE TALKIES! Starting off as a script for a film project that was originally titled “Shaadi of the Dead” in keeping with the legacy of zombie flicks like those of the legendary George Romero, the comcis creator had a moment of truth/ saw the light/ saw through the matrix (or whatever analogy you prefer) at the San Diego Comic Con which led him to see that the adventures of the un-dead can be just as big a genre here in India as they are in the west.
So with the blessings of film icon Shekhar Kapur and a zeal to share their vision far and wide, the creative team not only kept working on the movie (which is now on its way to theatres near you someday soon!) but also decided to do a comic book – a couple of young up-and-comers in the form of Harshvardhan Kadam and Anish Patel came on board and along with Vaspar Dandiwala formed the team that started bringing this graphic gore-anza to life.
With a working title of “Bollywood of the Dead” they threw themselves into their tasks like a sacrificial lamb to the zombie hordes below and now we finally get to see where all this has brought us.

At first glance, I must admit that it made me think of a small story from ages back by (then lesser-known) writer Rick Remender (FrankenCastle, ) called XXXombies that was about a film crew (adult films if you must know) caught unawares in a zombie apocalypse.
But then I had a chance to see that this was meant to be more then just a short story and was part of a bigger plan by the creators which makes me curious as to what they’re planning and what makes this unique beyond it being “Indian”.
With a desi cast of characters and what appear to be some unique characters and potential situations I admit I am most intrigued by all that this could become – will it be a Resident Evil style saga? More tradition Romero style fare? Perhaps it might even go the crazed 28 Days route. At this point the creators and the publishers – Pop Culture Publishing (the organisers/brains behind Comic Con India) – are playing their cards very close to the chest.
With only these few images and even less story to go by it is hard to accurately predict what will come. But the potential is great and as Level10’s attempt at the genre has shown, the market is there for it – and the art that we’ve seen looks fun and seemingly holding back little in terms of the blood and gore, keeping to a simpler comic style art-work that I think comes out quite nicely and is often under-rated in this new comic age of more real and more gritty visuals even for stories that don’t necessarily need it. And personally I like my zombie stories to have some fun with it (is that wrong) and all indications are that this book is trying to do just that. 

Having a sit-down with Holy Cow!

18 Oct
 

You’ve all been aching to learn more about upcoming issues of Ravanayan, we’ve all been teased by art from Skull Rosary and been enticed by hints of much more still not revealed – well be at peace good readers!
We at Comic Addicts have finally nailed down the elusive creative head of Holy Cow Entertainment (HCE), Mr Vivek Goel himself along with some of his creative co-conspirators and now bring you an in-depth and honest talk about what in the coming months will make you exclaim “HOLY COW!!”
Thanks for taking out time to sit with us Vivek, its a real pleasure.
To start with, tell us how does it feel to be at the forefront of changing face of indian comics?
It feels great, honestly. Finally I have got the chance to do the things I always wanted to do, the projects, the kind of art, stories, experimentation with different art styles without being answerable to anyone. Also, I love teaching comic book art and with HCE, I finally can do that. Being a self taught artist I understand the value of time and if it took me 2 years to prepare myself I can cut short that period for my young interns to 8 months under proper guidance thereby infusing new blood in Indian comics which we seriously need at this point of time.
How did the idea for Holy Cow Entertainment germinate? what are you looking to do within that banner?
It basically started with a need and a want. A need to give myself a stable platform as an artist and a want to something unique in the form of projects of different genres, giving independent ideas a stable platform. Now is the time that creators take control of their own content and the only way possible is self publishing stuff.
Our basic aim under the banner of HCE is to unite the artist writer fraternity, to give them creative freedom so that they can deliver the best possible comics for the Indian market. The Indian comic industry is very disorganized and fails to understand that we need to work together in order to flourish together as comic making is a team work, no single person can rule it!

HCE is very much open to almost every genre and any art style, we don’t want our company to be branded into any 1 genre and that we why we are doing almost everything – 1 at a time. We started with Horror GN moving towards Indian Mythology and with our next GN “The skull rosary” being a noir mythology book and then to Serengeti Stripes – a one of a kind of project revolving around the animal kingdom!!! You name it, HCE has it.

(CLICK TO ENLARGE!)
Would all you comics now be coming under your own banner or are you planning to work with other publishers as well?
For now, we are solely concentrating on our own banner. HCE needs to be independent enough before venturing with any other brand.
Holy Cow began with the bang launching WereHouse v1 How has the reception been for both Holy Cow and WereHouse among the industry and fans?
Its been a wonderful experience till date and WereHouse Volume 01 has been received with a bang, I just cannot seriously imagine why did somebody not imagine doing a noir book till date, B&W has tremendous potential if used properly. We have learned quite a lot since vol.1 and now vol.2 which is due in the summer of 2013 is gonna be bigger and better, there will now be 5 awesome stories with 5 totally new writers penning them!
Tell us one of the comment you received for holy cow that you think validated your work.
Holy Cow!! (in the positive way )
You soon followed WereHouse up with your one of the most anticipated title : Ravanayan. We did an extensive interview for Ravanayan so wont talk about it in detail, but we ARE going to ask you, how was it received in the market?
Technically Ravanayan was planned to release before WereHouse but the GN was complete way before Ravanayan and we thought of releasing it first. We did not even have any proper ideas about how the distribution channel and network works and so we could not risk Ravanayan 01 to be blocked or face hurdles in the distribution system. Moreover, it was the start of a company and we thought that we should start with a fatter book in the beginning, so WereHouse was released. Tell you what, Ravanayan was our primary reason to start HCE in the 1st place, the publicity picked up pretty well for it and then we understood that it needs an independent treatment and no other person or company would be able to give that – its more like raising your own baby versus raising someone else’s baby and you always give your best to your own baby Ravanayan is being received with a bang by people, in face we have sold more than 700 copies of issue 01 on the internet itself. We are learning with each issue published, we face new problems and we overcome it and Ravanayan is reaping the benefits of it and the art and the story is getting better by each passing issue, in-fact from next issue onwards Ravanayan is going to be a double sized 40 page issue.
(CLICK TO ENLARGE!)
Post Ravanayan , there have been so many announcements from Holy Cow that its difficult to keep track. If I’m right, your next books are : Skull Rosary, Werehouse 2 and Serengeti Stripes, apart from continuing to do Ravanayan. How do you manage to do all of this?
Yes, Ravanayan will wrap up in April and “The Skull Rosary” is due in May (every year, May would be the time we would launch our annual GN’s), then from July onwards its “Serengeti Stripes” a 5-issue mini-series and Were House v2 is scheduled to launch in May 2013.
How do I manage all this? Well being unmarried has its perks… lolz. The basic rule of publishing an ongoing magazine, be it monthly or bi-monthly is: You always need to have a back up, you need to complete your work in advance. Or in simple words you always need to be ahead of schedule. I have been working to build up this company since May 2010 when I left Level 10 comics and have kept drawing since last one year, we launched WereHouse v1 when we had that complete, 4 issues of Ravanayan are completed and Serengeti Stripes is being brainstormed with The Skull Rosary under production.
The biggest challenge was to assemble an awesome team for this. Don’t ask me how I assembled all of them but with sheer faith and goodwill HCE is proudly working with 8 writers, 2 colourists and 3 pencillers. Being the founder, I have to keep myself at the centre of every single creative process and then comes the selling and marketing part and not to mention, I still draw 20 pages a month! All this leaves me no time to have a personal life but at the end of the day, the creative process I get myself involve and the continuous evolving nature of things we do in this business compensates for every single thing missed/loss.
Lets take each comic bit by bit and dissect : First up Skull rosary. what is it about ?
There is a reason why he is called the destroyer and The Skull Rosary (TSR) is a homage to his capability of destruction and regeneration. It’s India’s first B & W mythology revolving around Lord Shiva and what happens when something or someone gets on to Bholenath’s bad side!! The Skull Rosary explores the Lord’s unfettered dark side (and no, we are not talking evil here) and how it is a necessary harbinger of life. It’s a thought, a way of life, a philosophy crunched into a graphic novel. Without giving too many spoilers I would like to conclude that there is a very good reason that when everything else fails, even the highest of the gods have nowhere else to go other than Mahadev himself!!!! I have always been a strong advocate that a readable comic book does not need to depend on colours and the decision of getting a book coloured or not should be based on its genre. Since TSR has such a dark subject matter, it naturally demands a solid B & W treatment. The graphic novel plans to be an explosion, not of colours but of starkness, eeriness and darkness that lies just beyond human understanding.
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Introduce us to the creative team behind Skull rosary?
Skull Rosary is HCE’s 2nd creator owned title after Ravanayan which means that profits will be shared between me and my writer, the super talented Shweta Taneja. We both wanted to do something that would bring out the dark, unfettered and even uncivilized side of Lord Shiva and while speaking with Shweta on the phone one day we both stumbled upon the same idea and decided to give it a go. Shweta and I have jammed earlier in “Its a dog’s death” in WereHouse v1 and found out that our work complemented each other’s. And so in a crux was the idea that is to become TSR was born! It’s Shweta’s story and the rest of the work and publishing dept. is mine, including the art. She is an insanely talented young writer and I am really proud of working with her on this project.
How much influence does Vivek Goel have over the story? What is is like working with “the writers”
It’s a very good question. See, with HCE I am playing 2 roles – one of an artist trying to meet his deadlines daily and other of a businessman trying to make a brand of his company and selling books. It’s a very delicate balance and I have to maintain this if I am to run a company and at the same time get work from 15 diff. people. Being an artist myself and still drawing the major projects of HCE puts me grounded most of the time, while making a product or drawing it I “have” to think like an artist only and keep the bossy aspect out of my mind, if I keep on catering my ego then I would fail as an artist. I still show thumbnails of the artwork to all my writers and take their approval before moving ahead with the final art as I am not making comics only for me, I am making comics for the masses, we also have editorial system and I am not the one pulling strings, I totally believe in the benefits of working an editorial system and understand the value of 3 minds (writer, artist and editor) working on a project, these 3 are the one’s who can make a comic book awesome as compared to a bossy fellow catering to his own ego, you cannot make/sell comics being bossy and we at HCE certainly do not do that 😀
Now lets ask the same question to Shweta Taneja herself – how has it been working with Vivek Goel as an artist? And how did this writing gig happened?
Working with Vivek Goel, the artist, is like sitting on a roller coaster of creativity. He’s that kind of a friend and mentor. I find it necessary to bounce ideas back and forth to create and Vivek is always open to even the sometimes crazier ones. As for his art, I am a complete fan, especially of his black and whites. His artwork inspires me to write and I don’t think there can be a bigger compliment (smiles). His strokes are confident and masterful and I always look forward to attachments from him in my email.
As for your second question, like Vivek mentioned, it all happened over a phone call really. Somewhere in my head, I wanted to work on a graphic rendition on Shiva’s darker side. I was in the middle of a big shot dinner when Vivek called up, excited about a sudden brain wave he had had. It was a kind of visual blast he had had while daydreaming on Shiva. Dinner forgotten, I started to listen in, barely containing my excitement. Something similar had been doing the rounds in my head and I had already begun reading on Mahadeva! Of course, it had to explore the dark side of the matter so to say. An hour’s discussion later, while my friends were patiently waiting for me to get back (smiles), we knew that we had a potentially bombastic idea in our hands. Of course coincidence apart, it wasn’t an easy ride. It took months of hardcore research to figure out what exactly I wanted to depict through this graphic novel. We are both believers of the fact that other than making it visually striking, a graphic novel has to have a solid story line. So it took a while before we finalized on a story line. And WHAT A STORY it has become! It might sound a bit philosophical or even loony but I read the script the other day and didn’t believe I wrote it. I think someone or something was writing it through me. I look at myself as a mere instrument, a medium through which this creation came. It’s that awe-inspiring.
Thanks Shweta for giving us that, now back to you Vivek – we’re not done with you yet!
People are trying to take comics into new arena, the latest example being Level-10 going fully Mature with their content. How do you see Holy cow entertainment?
Yes, the medium is definitely changing because there is a demand of such content and if you are to survive well you need to cater that. HCE is just three books old now, at present we are just looking to survive till the point where our success and the demand increases.
Serengeti Stripes… Our very own Akshay Dhar is writing that book with you. he has worked with you in the past on Werehouse v1 as well as other projects – how is it working with him? Why don’t you both tell us how you go about creating the book.
Vivek: He’s a leech, literally! He sucks the artist so bad that the poor artist is left with no other option but to give its best in the book 😀 He is made to do series and we have also done one more one-shot between WereHouse and Serengeti Stripes, but that’s a secret for now 😉
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Akshay: What can I say? When you’re right, you’re right! I never thought I’d be ok with being a blood-sucking little creep, but in the sense that Vivek says it I don’t mind at all. Honestly, getting to create comics has been an utter and total blast and Vivek and I were fortunate that we just elected to work one day on a 4-pager on a pure whim and I have personally loved working with him since then. As an artist he is highly talented and is just barely breaching the barrier to his full potential – and I think this is one of the reasons we work so well together. When it comes to writing, I tend to brainstorm it a lot to start with, then sort out the details in excruciating minutae on my own and then start on making the artist do concept art which is just me making them work for free! All the while I hammer out a disturbingly detailed script that I get so much **** for from all the artists, but in the end I think it works out because I go into insane detail on layouts and panels and design and such, but always maintain that if the artist has a better idea for anything from a face to a whole page – Im willing to go with it if we both agree it is definitely better. About Serengeti Stripes I am very excited, one of the things Vivek and I noted after WereHouse was people felt we should have made a series – so we decided to do exactly that! And the secret project mentioned by him, I so wish I could share some of the magnificent art from it – it was a true experiment in visual story-telling in Indian comics I think, and a serious challenge for me to incorporate the detail and elements of the visuals so closely with the story I was telling; of course Vivek cursed me every single day over the soul-sucking I was doing to him on a project he was NOT planning on working on fully himself but the challenge of what I put I before him just could not be resisted! I think all Indian comics fans should keep a close eye on what’s going to be coming out of HCE in the coming year. Cheers all!
Now about Serengeti Stripes, post the release of the title and promo art, the book has drawn comparisons with “The Pride of Baghdad”, the famous BKV comic book. What do you have to say to this?
When it comes to animals – real, focussed stories about them and more importantly through them – there are very few to be found. Pride of Baghdad is a well written, and amazingly put together graphic novel that really was something unique, of this there is no doubt for anyone I would think. As far as its comparisons to our book go – the similarities are firstly, the narrative concentrating on animals as our characters in a ‘real’ and not fantasy/anthropomorphic capacity ;secondly, the choice of protagonist animals being big cats – and even in that there are difference because they had lions and we have tigers. Thats it. Its just barely a similarity and honestly only on the surface, its easy to assume they are the same thing but once you get down to the stories, the characters, the setting and everything from the intent, the themes, the styles and literally the feel of it all – they are vastly different. Because they are both animal-centric stories (which as already said before are VERY rare) they will however always draw the occassional reader who says its trying to be that or some such, but for anyone who reads it first and foremost for what it is will realise that its like saying Spiderman and all the later superheroes were nothing but ripoffs of the older tight and cape brigades – either you see it or you don’t.
Thanks Akshay, definitely looking forward to it!
Vivek, would you be willing to tell us – What is Serengeti Stripes all about?
Its all about the concept of bonding between two tiger brothers and survival and that too survival on such grounds which are technically not meant for Tigers to live in. I had an idea in my mind for the last eighteen months but was looking for the right person to write it. You see, its not easy to write animals, not every writer can do it, since SS is a story which has zero humans, its totally on and about animals, you need to think like one, draw like one!!! I will make the picture more clear, the whole concept of working with 3 diff. writers in WereHouse was to find out who fits best to write SS and enter our Jolly Akshay Dhar 😀 While attending at the 1st ComicCon in Delhi, I stayed in the awesome house of Akshay and that night (don’t get ideas!!) gave us the prefect opportunity to discuss the project. We brainstormed for five long hours and by 4 a.m. we were ready with the synopsis of all five issues! 2011 is the year of Ravan, 2012 will be the year of Tigers, I can guarantee you that because I am looking at the 1st five pages of SS issue #1 coloured in my PC.
Werehouse v2: when is it coming, who all are contributing stories now? Heard Shamik Dasgupta has one in there!
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Werehouse v2 is lined up for May, 2013. HCE will be giving out six double sized comics and one GN every year with the GN coming only during vacation time i.e. May. The Skull Rosary is our 2nd one coming in 2012. Its gonna be fatter and better then the previous one since it now has 5 stories in it with 4 diff. artists working in each story. My good Friend Shamik is also writing 1 story in it and I will be drawing it personally.
How difficult is it to switch from creating a horror comic to a mythology comic , artwise?
Not at all, as a matter of fact I was doing mythology for a long time including Ravanayan and horror came in between. I have always been tagged as a fantasy/mythology artist basically because this is what I had got from publishers working in the past when I was a freelancer. I wanted to break that image and want to try my hand at every genre, therefore WereHouse happened. Art-wise, you have to be more careful with the blacks & whites in these kind of books as they are not gonna get coloured, you have to constantly keep reminding yourself of that, it pushes us to give our best. If you want to know how good the artist actually is, get him to draw you B&W stuff!
Holy cow is doing a lot of diverse projects, and a lot of them are in black and white. Is that a concious decision on your part? If so, why?
As I said in the previous question, I did not wanted to get myself tagged in just one genre and I would assume it would go for my company too. HCE will never be tagged as a company which deals only in a specific genre. We stared with horror, then mythology, all which will soon be followed by pure tiger awesomeness and then there is something special!!!! One needs to constantly keep changing the flavour to get the reader hooked. You name the genre, HCE will have it
So once more for the fans at home – When are all these fantastic books coming out?
Ravanayan wraps up in April. The Skull Rosary will be released in June and Serengeti Stripes will begin from August and these are final dates.

Exclusive Preview: Retrograde!!!

17 Oct
The wonderful portable digital dictionary on my computer describes the word ‘Retrograde’ as 

Retrograde [re-truh-greyd] adjective, can be used in several contexts:
  1. (astronomy) moving from east to west on the celestial sphere; or–for planets–around the sun in a direction opposite to that of the Earth
  2. Of amnesia; affecting time immediately preceding trauma
  3. Going from better to worse
  4. Moving or directed or tending in a backward direction or contrary to a previous direction


Going by the preview images, I’d say it contains elements from all of these and more!
My dear readers, I feel extremely pleased to introduce you to the upcoming 2-part Graphic Novel by our very own fellow addict, Akshay Dhar.

Retrograde is being published by Pop Culture Publishing, who are also the good people behind Comic Con Express – Mumbai, which is taking place on 22nd and 23rd October in Mumbai! I’ll be there, will you?

A great reason for you to be there will be to get your hands on the first issue of Retrograde. It is being launched at Comic Con Express – Mumbai, on Day One. I wouldn’t want to miss out on this one. Retrograde along with the next issue of Ravanayan are on my personal top ‘must-haves’ list for this season.
We have the first five pages of Retrograde for your viewing pleasure. They are more of a teaser, if you ask me, coz the point at which the preview ends is nail-biting and gripping enough to keep me excited until the 22nd of October!
It is a story set in a post-apocalyptic world where only a handful of individuals are left, fighting for survival and a chance to live their lives again, as few men (and women, of course).
In essence, the first thing that came to my mind was the comparison between other classic post-apocalyptic graphics novels, like Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra or The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman. If you ask me, anything that brings comparisons of this caliber to mind has a promising future ahead, and I am confident that Retrograde will continue to carry the torch and set a standard which will be a new benchmark in the Indian Comic Industry.
Akshay is not a new name in the comic industry. He has worked on several projects like the Comix.India anthology, Warblade, WereHouse v1, etc. He is also a regular contributor and one of the core members of ComicAddicts. His love and knowledge about Comic Books is at par with the other Addict, Mayank, who was the M behind the Adventures of M and the one-man army behind Comic Addicts.
Akshay collaborated with Avik Kumar Maitra to create Retrograde.
I will let you good readers make up your own minds about the book, on the basis of these preview pages. In my opinion, the whole trip from Delhi to Mumbai will be worth it only for the chance to pick up a copy of this one. The story begins well, without much buildup. The reasons behind the near-destruction of the Earth are not explained, but perhaps will be detailed later in the story.
The characters are interesting and jump right into the action, without a formal introduction or a back story. Who needs a back story when your survival is an issue, eh?
The artwork looks very promising and black & white is a medium which has always been close to my heart so I might be a little biased towards it, but in the tradition of several other artists, they have decided to go ahead without any colors. I’m sure some of you might have complains about the B&W medium, but from these pages, it seems to me that it will go well with the story.
It is probably one of India’s first, if not the first, series/story which is based on such a theme. I am not considering Rabhas Incident by Level 10 at par, because that deals with primarily the destruction of a single city. Retrograde takes it a long, long step further and destroys the planet!
In the tradition of Akshay’s favorite writers like Warren Ellis, Jonathan Hickman, Neil Gaiman etc. Retrograde looks finger-licking promising to me, and the next 5 days are going to be tough on me if I don’t succeed in diverting my mind to other useless activities to keep it off from the goodies in store during the coming weekend!

So here you go folks! A few early images to whet your appetite for what’s yet to come!

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This One’s for the Girls!

17 Oct

This is for all of the geek ladies out there. Halloween is a great time because you can always look forward to dressing up as your favorite super-heroine and going out to parties or what not, right? The big question is this: why do costume companies feel the need to slut up the costumes?

We’re geeks, we know that if the gals in the comics were real they would be anatomically lacking proportion and the outfits they’re wearing are completely impractical. Still we accept it as we read comics because it’s fun. There’s something empowering about a woman in a tight leather or spandex outfit and heels beating on some thug at least twice her size. Still the question remains, why make those costumes any skimpier than they already are?
The other part of that is they make slutty versions of the guy superhero costumes too. No one is going to believe that just because you’re wearing a shiny red mini skirt and yellow glasses that you’re Iron Man.
The girl versions of the guy costumes are awful only in that you’re going to spend the entire time explaining who you are because while the colors are the same as the male counterparts, that’s pretty much it.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not prudes by any sense, just kind of comic purists. Why degrade something that is seen as an icon? We know Wonder Woman’s classic outfit is skimpy we get that and we’re okay with it. However, the costume companies managed to make it even skimpier.
Granted that pretty much all super-heroines look like they could be Victoria’s Secret models, but that doesn’t mean it should look like that’s where they got their costumes from.
We know that super-heroines are sexy. They have to be really. They’re the femme fatale; the sexy dangerous woman who you pray is on your side. They’re mysterious and beautiful and their costumes show off what a strong woman they are. Those are just basic components to a super-heroine. It’s also that much more humiliating for the villain when they get their butt kicked by a good looking woman.
The costumes that are being put out on the shelf in stores don’t seem to represent any of that. Also if you live in Northeast part of the US where it gets cold in October those costumes don’t help. Perhaps it best to take a page out of a cosplayers book and simply make your own costume.

What do you think about these costumes? We want to here from you geekettes and geeks. What’s your vote?