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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!

Adventures of the Kite Family

11 Aug
Adventures of the Kite Family written by Dan Brader with the first issue illustrated by New Zealand artists, Yi Lang Chen & Csaba Mester.

Dan and I have been FB friends since I first was contacted by him a few months back, when he asked me to check out the first issue of Kite Family. Because the series is a Real Life genre book, the issues and situations in it, felt like it was speaking to me personally as an adult male. I felt at one with the character, even though there isn’t much revelation about why Donnie is back from where ever he was. The story allowed me to put myself in Donnie’s place and think about the shit, for lack of a better adjective, that I had/have been going through after my own split and returning to my parents home to recoup for a while before I decided it was time to stand up.




I wanted to know more about the series, so I sent Dan, Five Questions to find out a bit about him as well as how the series came about. 







ARU: Tell us about yourself?

DAN: I’m a 29 year old who suffers from mild depression who spends my life on Facebook… Has a mass of debts I’ll never pay off… An ex-girlfriend who has all of my books, DVDs, records and comics and will never give them back…And I was living with my parents for the bulk of 2010…You could also say I’m a stand-up comedian and writer with a lot of promise who will get there eventually….And by “there” I mean make enough money from “art” to pay rent and bills….That’d make me happy.

ARU: How did you, as a Comedian end up deciding to write graphic novels?

DAN: Basically what happened was… I broke up with my girlfriend and because I’d spent so much time doing comedy shows and so little time working a day job and saving money (you know like normal people…) I had no choice but to come back home and live with my parents for a bit until I sorted shit out….Staying with them reminded me how much I liked writing about them (I wrote a play about them back at University) and because I was isolated in Wanaka I had no chance to do comedy routines about them…So I started writing scripts again and then it occured to me I could maybe turn them into comics if I could find an artist… I got lucky with Yi Lang Chen who very much captured the comical but realistic style I was looking for.

ARU Whats it been like working with the artist on the first issue?


DAN: Yi is a very talented artist and is very easy to work with…He seems to ‘get’ the tone of the work. I was very lucky to find him as I have been through a few artists prior to him and they’ve either been unreliable or just didn’t get the vibe of the piece. I also had Csaba Mester, a talented Hungarian artist, do a short piece with the Kites and we’re working on a comic about Tom Waits now but will probably do some Kite family stuff together too. So now I have two great artists to work with!

ARU: The ‘Kite Family‘ seems to feel very claustrophobic and seems like it has a lot of personal feelings placed into it from experience. Is this something you wanted to do with it from the start?
DAN: The comic is very close to my life. I’ve changed the odd thing here and there and exagerrated certain things but basically this is what it was like for me when I first returned home. I’ve tried to keep it punchy and comical as well so it doesn’t just seem like me having a big whinge. I’d liked it to be a very long series (I’ve written a whole stack of scripts already..) that’s divided between regular issues like this and issues that are a bunch of short pieces similar to how Pekar did early issues of “American Splendour


In my mind and heart I believe the book is a winner and needs to given the 4-6 issue graphic novel drive and let me be the first to say I dibs the copy after your family gets theres.
You can read the first issue, hereThere is also a  with tons of extras fan page
(ARU), Aruneshwar Singh has just finished his Bachelors Degree in Digital Media -Digital Film-making.
Having decided to become a teacher so he can see the world, he has just begun a
Diploma in Digital Media -Multimedia. On the creative side Aru,
is writing and illustrating a graphic novel about the 30yrs of Institutionalised Slavery of
Indians in Fiji from 1885 -1915. He is a prolific script writer and writes in all comic
book genres which include several graphic novels for his own company,
Rising Sun Comics.

Nish’s Notepad: Sufi Comics

19 Apr

Hello There!
I know most of you know me as The Gotham Guy: Nishkarsh Chugh but what’s better than a combined blog where you have all the stuff at only one place. This is my first official post, I’ve written twice here but that wasn’t OFFICIAL.
Enough talks, I’ll be writing every Tuesday here and for some weeks, I’ll be reviewing comics and graphic novel’s of different genres, different companies and different ages. Special thanks to Mayank, without whose support we wouldn’t be able to come on a single platform and write.

So today, I’m going to review 40 Sufi Comics, short comic strips illustrating eternal truths in the teachings of Islam.

Art: Mohammed Ali Vakil
Script: Mohammed Arif Vakil and Mohammed Ali Vakil

“One’s own religion is after all a matter between oneself and one’s Maker and no one else’s.

-Mahatma Gandhi

I’m a Hindu. I spent my early childhood days reading Amar Chitra Katha (because it was an easy way to understand the vast Hindu Religion) . I didn’t know about the the teachings of Holy Qur’an and Islamic Religion. Just some weeksa back, I ordered 40 Sufi Comics and some days back, it got delivered. The cover page said it all.. “Heaven is just two steps away” (read the whole review to get the answer)..


The art was beautiful, so the teachings. Each story taught a moral value, and had verses from the Qur’an and traditions with special notes from the artist. 40 Sufi Comics is actually a collection of illustrated eternal truths of life. Perhaps the strip that appealed the most to me is below:


Sufi Comics: Mother

Coming to the art, it was brilliant. Done in Photoshop on a Tablet PC in black and white, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Ali Vakil, the artist learnt the art of drawing comics recently, say some 2 years ago but you won’t believe it if he didn’t write it himself.

This comic just proves that anything could be taught perfectly through this medium, even to a stranger. You can read more sufi comics here: http://www.vakil.org/ and as I promised in the beginning, I’m leaving you with the answer of “How far is heaven?”


Sufi Comics How far is Heaven?

Hope Sufi Comics touches your heart deeply, just like it did mine.
Till then
Ciao!

P.S.: Next week I’m gonna review something completely different, and HUMRA APNA SUPERHERO!