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A quick word with Abhijeet Kini, doodler extraordinaire!

12 Oct
 

Hi Abhijeet. Its great to have to speaking to us today hopefully we’ll get lots of info out of you on whats ahead!
So its been almost nine months since the Delhi Comic Con, and we are now edging towards Comic Con Express – Mumbai. Excited?
Totally! Having the comic con come to my city was something I had always been waiting for, and here it is!
The horror… (Click to enlarge)
What made you decide to take a booth this time around at the convention and what can your fans expect to find there?
I had a lot of interactions with people at the Delhi Comic Con, without a stall to start with, and it was nice to see people finally being able to put a face to the names they’ve read in bylines – mine being one of them. So I decided to go for one this time around and have people know where to come and find me. Also, I’m going to be having some limited edition merchandise, featuring my artworks on it. Also on sale is an ambitious project I have been working on along with talented Delhi-based writer Anupam Arunachalam, called “Milk and Quickies”. We are completely looking forward to have people read this one!
Whats next after UBiMa? We have heard rumours of a sequel and there are definitely fans of the character looking to see more Bee-hari action – any light on the horizon?
Haha, I have heard similar rumours about the sequel too. And if they are true, well, the Bee-hari hunk would be back soon…we’ll have to wait and see. Besides this, I have been busy over the last few months with a couple of comics for Tinkle (more on that soon) along with the usual Tinkle stuff I do (Butterfingers, Defective Detectives, Sea Diaries, etc), and also some independent projects, one of them being “Milk and Quickies”.

Are you planning on or currently working with Adhiraj (Singh) on any other product? What was it like working for a loon like him?
I’ve been interacting with Adhiraj since early 2009, as a contributor to Random mag. It’s always been fun doing so, as with his writing one can never expect what’s to come next. If you liked Ubima, there are some crazy stories in Random you need to check out, which I had fun illustrating.
UbiMa with his creators! (Click to enlarge)
Currently I guess both of us are busy with our own things, especially with the comic con round the corner, but we’re in touch. So let’s see what’s on the anvil.
Tell us about the birth of UbiMa and how you became a part of it all.
Ubima has been featured in Random a couple of times in the past, under the “Badly Drawn Comics” section. There was even a special feature booklet released along with one of the Random issues. I had always been reading it, thinking this to be one of the strangest comic creations, and always doubted the seriousness behind its creation. But when Adhiraj and the folks told me about their idea to revamp the series and release it as a full fledged comic, I was excited about it. They wanted a new-ish look to the character, all polished up, and yet keeping it edgy, staying true to its original “badly drawn” nature. I came up with something they liked, and hope the people liked too. As Adhiraj puts it, the first time he tried drawing up an Otter faced man, it ended up looking like a dog. I kinda kept that consistency(?) and maintained the “dog-faced-Otter-Man-thingy”. Don’t ask
What are the things keeping you busy these days?
Like I said, “Milk and Quickies” has kept me quite tied up in the recent past. It’s a very different read, considering the tone of the short stories in it. Very twisted at times. Anupam has provided great stories for it, and not to mention, the title 😉 In fact one of the stories from the book was picked by Warren Ellis and featured it on his website along with some other entries for a 3 panel comic competition. To us that was huge! The comic is called the BOX. It will be a part of “Milk and Quickies” and we would be having a limited number of prints at my stall at the comic con. Besides this, Tinkle projects have been on my schedule. I also illustrate for magazines like Timeout Mumbai and Dimdima. And of course, Comic Con. The Mumbai skyline crowd shot was done by me for the Twentyonwards/ComicCon guys. So yeah, been a packed last few months.
(Click to enlarge)
Do you think you’ll do more creator-based/owned projects down the line or would you prefer working through the publishers as is the more common and practiced route?
I would love to have my own series, that I create and own, that is. I have a number of ideas, but I haven’t really pitched them out yet. I feel they aren’t ready. One of my such creations would be featured on my merchandise. He is called “Gryll” and I have a storyline ready, called “Out of the shadows”. Gryll has always been my best bet for a pitch, and he has been featured in Sunday Midday, in a feature on Indian Superheros. Let’s see if that concretises sometime. Tinkle has published my “Julius and Bork” series for 3 episodes. These are my characters and I do the scripts for the same. That’s another series I would want out in the market. Till then, I have my plate full with the common and practiced route.
Is there anyone in the current crop of comic creators in India you would like to try a project out with?
I’m open to any good scripts/concepts/writings/writers/creators.
Have you thought of a purely Hindi Project as an option? Being the most widely spoken language and mother tongue and all, you can’t get more coverage than that, can you? Does the language matter to you as an artist?
It did when I was younger, as a kid. Somehow, Hindi comics weren’t quite there for me as a reader. But I was wrong. The reach is superb and some of the concepts and storylines are far superior than anything we have read in the English stream. I don’t have any issues with the language used in the comic. After all, it’s the concept that matters to me. UbiMa, though not 100% English, isn’t a vernacular book, but it’s very different from all my earlier works. Language wouldn’t matter at all.
If we could just side-track a little bit – what is it that makes you want to draw comics? Where do you get the passion for this medium instead of more acceptable and profitable artistic careers?
I have always been an avid comics reader and collector ever since I remember. And I always loved scribbling and drawing ever since I remember. And I’m glad the two perspectives met. Also, I am thankful of the fact that I have supportive parents, and not those who would flog their kids into becoming a doc or an engineer. I was left to choose what I wanted. Plus they never said “No!” to buying the comics I wanted…ever 😀
Wicked!!! (Click to enlarge)
Could you tell us a little about your art style and your approach to the process?
I kind of experiment with style. Butterfingers in Tinkle is way different than an UbiMa. The stuff I do for Timeout is extremely different than what I used to illustrate for Hindustan Times Café Mumbai. My major influence is MAD magazine. I have been reading MAD since I was in class 3. Sergio Aragones is someone I have idolised. So when it comes to the funny, quick stroke styles, I kinda keep Sergio in mind, “What would he have done” sorts. For Random mag, I had a blast illustrating the stories, as that was the closest I got to unleashing the MAD humour illustrations.
How is it dealing with publishers in the Indian industry for an aspiring artist like you once were?
It wasn’t great first up. There were rejections from people who showed themselves to be supportive. Firstly, the main challenge I faced was to convince people that I do a decent job at illustrating, though I haven’t received any sort of formal art training. I am self taught. That fact suddenly used to make them back off. I played it safe. I started freelancing for newspapers and mags. JAM was where I had my first freelance break while in junior college. Mid-Day happened when I was in degree college. So I could build my portfolio there. Got my by-lines there. And then treaded carefully into the comics domain.
Before we take your leave, any parting advice and tips for comic artists in the making?
They have it much better today. A lot of people are open to comics as a means to make a living, both as contributors and publishers. Comic forums have multiplied, the Comic Con has a following now, new comic series launched every month. We didn’t have it this good back in our day. I’d say make use of what’s out there and don’t screw up!

Thanks so much for making the time for this Abhijeet, we’re sure all your fans appreciate it – we know we did! One last thing before you get back to bringing great stories to life, could you tell us some of your favorite artists, writers, characters in the current era, india, global and all-time?
Sergio Aragones. All time fave. Almost all the artists of the 80’s era MAD were great. Pick an old issue and see if you can stop laughing just by looking at the art, forget reading. I am a Gary Larsen fan too. His humour is out of this world. Back home, I’ve loved collecting Mario Miranda’s works. I think his art is exceptional.

All the best for the convention, we hope you find loads of success there and after, and we will see you and all you readers out there at the convention as well!

 

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The game is afoot! Comic Con Express, Mumbai – Cosplay Chaos and Coolness!!

7 Oct

Dear Addicts,

Click to view in it’s full-sized glory!

If you thought that Batman, Scarecrow, Wonder Women, Wolverine, Jafar, Joker and all the other awesome character – wonderfully donned by our very sporty Cosplayers in Delhi – were good, then you’re in for a joy ride my friend, coz Comic Con Express Mumbai has declared the gaming season!
If the response in Delhi was a pleasant surprise for you, this one will be nothing short of Brahmic Bliss.
Mumbai’s first ever Comic Convention – Comic Con Express has announced the Costume Contest open!!!
Click for full, glorious detail!

Oct-22 and 23, 2011, Mumbai will be the culmination of the glorious cosplay culture from all across India.

You will not only get to meet like-minded geeks, fellow fanboys (and girls, of course), be popular and cash in your 15 minutes of fame – as Mr. Warhol predicted – and overall have super fun, you can ALSO win some totally mind-blowing PRIZES!!!
Yes, you heard me right! So if you yell Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and break into a jiggy jazzy dance, I wouldn’t really blame you. I’d have done the same, if I wasn’t dance impaired!

So take out those threads, those sewing needles and machines, spandex rolls, capes, hats, overcoats, swords, guns, claws, lasers and anything else you have been stashing for years and get down to it, coz one thing is for sure! None of us Addicts are going down without a hell of a fight!

Wonder Bai and I’ll see you there Bub.

Yours,
Fellow Addict. 

EXCLUSIVE: From the desk of Vivek Goel…

4 Oct
 

AMAZING!! 
Dream a dream…
The only word that comes to my mind when I think of the Indian comic convention is “Amazing”. Trust me when I say this, Comic conventions are probably the best thing that have happened to the Indian comic industry in the last 10+ years.
Project Ravanayan and the minds behind it were totally unaware of it during the 1st Comic Con at Delhi and we, along with so many of our peers from outside Delhi, were not planning to visit it. But things totally changed as out of the blue an invite came to team Ravanayan (Vijayendra Mohanty and me) to attend the Comic Con and to conduct a workshop and an autograph signing session there. I spoke to my partner Vijayendra and decided that this is probably the best platform Ravanayan could ever get. I did not have any firm plan worked out to start Holy Cow Entertainment (HCE) by that time, I mean it was a bit dicy… I can now proudly say that it was the one of the few but best decisions that I took, that changed my position in the world of comics.

Project Ravanayan was received very well there and we made, displayed and sold two exclusive posters of Ravanayan just for the Comic Con. The ambience and the energy was just awesome, I could hardly see any kids there, it was just full of adults and that too doing cosplay – that’s what I call living for comics. For the first time in my life I felt like this is my 2nd home with so many like minded people under a single roof!!! I met at least a hundred different people eagerly waiting for Ravanayan to release – hell they liked it so much that after the convention fans tore away our standee too in their madness..lolz! But jokes apart I made a promise to myself that day, that from the next Comic Con I will not be outside a booth, I will be there inside one!!! Came back to my city and started working towards my goal and that was the turning point of my life as HCE was born!!!!
Being a Mumbaikar, I could not have hoped for anything better to have a convention in my own city, and that too when this will be the debut convention for HCE. I have a firm belief that this occasion will boost the comic supply/demand/awareness in Mumbai. Let me tell you that there is no shortage of talent in Mumbai and comic readership too, but they are not available freely in the market. 
To have a comic convention in my city is like witnessing the next stage of growth of a medium desperately needed here. Like I have said, the final battle was between Bangalore and Mumbai and there is a reason Mumbai won!! Also, World Trade Center Is a place to be, I have been there just once in my life and that too when I was a kid, its ambience is just amazing and I guarantee you that this event will be received tremendously by Mumbaikars, I guarantee u that!
HCE has a very special plan for the Mumbai Comic Con as we will be launching the 40-page double sized Issue #03 of Ravanayan over there, the occasion totally demands it.
To conclude: as I have mentioned many times in the past, HCE takes penciling interns and when I am asked by their parents about the scope of comics in India and how much their kid could earn by drawing comics, I just have to say that four new comic companies have come up in the last two years alone – and of course the comic conventions happening, if comics did not have any future in India this would not be happening and they do not ask for any further answer.
Actions always speak louder than words!
Thanks,
Vivek Goel (C.E.O. and Art Director)
Holy Cow Entertainment.

The Con is on!

1 Oct

Hello everybody and welcome to Mumbai’s first ever Comic Con. Not exactly, though, that’s a better part of the month away but for me, it can’t come soon enough. And now, let me explain why.

When I was a seven year old kid, somewhere in streets of Mumbai, I read in a newspaper about Superman’s death. Now, I wasn’t deluded — I knew that Superman is a fictional character; I wasn’t deluded into thinking that a real person had died. But he was real enough to mean something to people; so real that his death was news. And why not, if a man can fly, evade speeding bullets and melt lead with his eyes, doesn’t that make him human? Well, at least the papers thought so.
A year later, at a second hand book store, I found two issues of that storyline. I was elated! Inside that issue was a subscription form. Not knowing what a dollar is, I gingerly filled out the subscription form in that issue, and gave it to my father, who then told me about America, dollars, old subscription forms and shipping. There was another ad – for something called Chicago Comic Con (to the best of my memory) which advertised itself as the largest comic convention in the country. Whatever hopes I had of attending one of those were promptly crushed.
Now, a little less than twenty years later, India has already had it’s first major comic con – and the second one is coming in tow. Not only that, it has been so successful that it has been made an annual event, with another event being held across other major indian cities mid year. And this time it’s in Mumbai.
Oh. I understand we might not get to see international talent, I might never get my Jim Starlin & Marv Wolfman comics autographed, and I’m not deluding myself thinking that this is a worthy competitior to Chicago Comic con, Seattle Comic Con or the grand daddy of them all – San Diego Comic Con (or SDCC). But look! Look towards the comic scene in India. For a country still being tagged as a developing nation, we do have a lot of talent with these publications roaring:
India Book House
Diamond Comics
Raj Comics
Vimanika Comics
Random Magazine
Level 10 Comics
Pop Culture publications
And the newest entrée to this esteemed group, helmed by avant garde artist Vivek Goel,
Holy Cow Comics.
So, are people going to be worried about the lack of international talent? No way! Our pantheon of comic stars will be there in full attendance. We have our very own cosplayers, proud to strut around in attire which, on a road would attract attention, frowns and maybe whistles. What more could we ask for? And then there’s the recent announcement (I’m sure all of you here know about it) that Disney and Marvel are officially coming here! Seriously, you could have knocked me down with a feather!
And we’ve already had a lot of talent showcasing every month in the meetings and workshops with Leaping Windows, a library only for Graphic Novels. 
Ten years ago, this would have been called insane. Today, this is innovative…with a lot of takers. This is your chance to meet the virtual powerhouses of talent, both latent and in full technicolour.
So, enough about why you should attend. Rather, let’s just say….see you soon!

Calling all Vimaniks! Your leader speaks!

28 Sep
 

HELLO ADDICTS!!
Excited? You should be, Comic Con Mumbai is inching closer and closer with every passing second, minute, hour and day! 
And in the continuing spirit of comic-camaraderie and sharing the joy, we have managed to secure an interview today with Mr. Karan Vir – the envisioner of and man behind Vimanika Comics. He takes time from his busy schedule to share some of his insight and thoughts on comics and the convention(s) and even was good enough to provide quite a few lovely art samplings from some of the beautiful books Vimanika has in the works and on the stands. 
So enjoy it all folks and remember: you keep reading, we’ll keep writing!
 (And as always, remember the images can be clicked for big-ness!)

ComicAddicts: You were at the 1st Delhi Comic Con, how was the experience?

Karan Vir: Very Exhilarating!!
CA: Now we are having another con in Mumbai – do you think its too soon or just right?
KV: Yes we are! I feel its the right time. Its about time! Mumbai needs one.
CA: What are your plans for Mumbai Comic Con ?
KV: We, as Event sponsors of the Mumbai Comic Con Express, have lots of plans under our sleeves – but for now we are launching two super titles there!! Will keep you updated of all other plans as they become concrete.
CA: With mumbai being the hub of entertainment / advertising industry and Comic Cons focus on these two as well (see our last interview with them), do you think comics may get lost or is it good for comic industry?
KV: I think it can be more than a hub for the comic industry, but only if we keep our focus on what we want to achieve and stay united to attain it.
CA: What are your expectations from the Mumbai Con and the fans?
KV: Well I am expecting the best and preparing for the worst and hoping the latter does not turn into a reality!
CA: What one thing are you looking forward to the most?
KV: To our Shiva-TLI Book I launch 🙂
CA: Since you are based in Mumbai, what local flavour are you looking forward to in Mumbai con?
KV: Well the local flavour will be in the crowd/comic fans itself who are coming there .
CA: What are your views on the burgeoning comic scene and Comic Con India ?
KV: Its growing but is only the tip of the iceberg,there is lot more to achieve and to create that culture it needs a consistent unity of all the comic publishers/artists/writers & the most important, the fans ! We still need to learn a lot.
CA: Next steps for you from Comic Con Mumbai?
KV: Well getting ready for Comic Con Delhi !!! What else?!
CA: Any plans for Comic Con Delhi already decided?
KV: Not concrete yet but the plan has started to take form in my mind already, will keep you guys in the loop as they get confirmed! 
So there you have it folks!  More to look forward to and more comic-y goodness to hold you over until you make it to the Convention and all the new comics and big announcements finally seeing light of day! 
So stick around, we’ll be back soon – same comic site, same Comic Addicts!

Comic Con through Campfire and brimstone!

22 Sep
 

Campfire’s experience at the last Comic Con
At Comic Con Delhi ’10
Fifteen thousand comic book fans gathered together in Delhi for India’s first ever comic con. The two-day convention was a phenomenal success, far exceeding the expectations of both the organisers (Twenty Onwards Media) and the participants.
Campfire graphic novels, for example, raked in more revenue during the first day of the comic con than in 10 days at the 2010 Delhi Book Fair.

Awesome covers! (Click for wallpaper size)
As it was an event that focused on Comics, the response was phenomenal. Campfire launched its Indian Mythology series at the Con, including ‘Sita: Daughter of the Earth’, ‘Ravana: Roar of the Demon King’ and ‘The Offering: The Story of Ekalavya and Dronacharya’.
The titles were sold remarkably well and the demands of the comic afficandos were impressive.
Mumbai next.
Speaks for itself I think!
We look forward to the next innings of Comic Con happening in Mumbai next month. We have a large readership in Mumbai and we are eagerly waiting to meet our fans there. We have added a large collection of titles in our Biography and Originals category, apart from the titles we showcased in the last Con.
With new titles like ‘Nelson Mandela’, ‘Ali Baba and the forty thieves: Reloaded’, ‘Macbeth’, ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ and ‘Muhammad Ali’ on the stands, we are planning to launch our forthcoming Classic ‘The Jungle Book’.
We have also planned something special for the launch, which will only be disclosed at the event.
Comic Con and the Comic Industry
Comic Con is a perfect platform to keep the Indian comic culture alive. As we all know that the Indian comic market is still in a fairly nascent stage and events like these are very important for the growth and success of the industry.

Mumbai Comicon Express : A roundup with Comic Addicts

19 Sep

 
Welcome addicts, to more inside news for the Comic Con Express! Today we speak with the organisers behind this event, the brains and the brawn making it all happen, and we bring it fresh off the note-pad to you! 

1. We were there at the last con and it was a huge success, a sortie of comic addicts from around India! Did its success spur you to create Comic Con Mumbai or was it always on the cards?

   The decision was certainly based on the reaction of the fans and the participants, we felt we were in a position to make it happen and we did.

2. Is it going to have a different flavour from Comic Con Delhi or is it essentially the same dish in a different city?

   Its bit of both actually. The format is essentially the same, with exhibit spaces and workshops/sessions taking place every half hour or so. However, the feel of the event will be very different, unlike Delhi/dilli haat, this is an in-door venue in the heart of South Mumbai, we are trying to bring in local flavor. As Comic Con India we believe in promoting local talent and a lot of our talent is based in Mumbai

Apart from local flavour, the focus of Comic Con Mumbai is different from Delhi since we are incorporating  the entertainment and advertising industries into the con since both of these industries are big in Mumbai.

You’ll find the confirmed/announced participants on our site. Again, our approach is the same as it was 6 months back, the focus is on Indian comics, on the Indian industry. And this will be the first such event for Mumbai so like the first ever convention in Delhi, we’d like to highlight what’s happening in India, showcase the talent here.  

 
  
3. Heard Comic Con is going all out for Kids in Mumbai. What can they look forward to ?

   First tell me where did you hear this from? But yes we got a lot of complaints that ‘kids’ weren’t looked after last time, so we are planning a few childrens activities and there will be quite a few vendors catering to their needs. Lets get the kids hooked on to comics at an early stage!

4.Thats an excellent thought. Three cheers from Comic Addicts on this!
You guys have been doing rounds of various cities promoting Comic Con through workshops. How has the response been to this so far?

   On the whole, its been awesome, we face turn-out issues at times, but as we went out to different cities, the response was quite nice and completely unexpected. 

5. We would be looking forward to that. By the way which comics are launching in Comic Con Mumbai?

   So, far there are 7 titles! Which is awesome! We were worried that since the last convention wrapped up just 6 months ago and we hadn’t announced Mumbai at that time, there wouldn’t be too many launches, but its 7 confirmed already and a few more in the pipeline. We would be revealing the titles soon here.

6. Are you planning to get some international artists/creators at the Convention ?

   For Mumbai, no, we don’t want to shift the focus from Indian talent. Lets realize that beyond our fan circle, comic artists and writers aren’t recognized by the general public, even though they should be, which is why we are hell bent on making sure the best and the brightest in the industry are present at the convention in Mumbai 

7. Who all from Indian comic industry would be there?

   Pretty much everyone from last time and quite a few new names, which is quite encouraging. Lets hope our conventions spur more people to jump in. 

8. In the last convention, there was an after-party wherein Pran sir was given a lifetime achievement award, are there some plans for a similar after party?

   If you’d remember that was because the venue got rained out. Yes we do have a networking cocktail dinner planned in Mumbai for the participants and invited guests. But no awards. 

9. Tell us one thing that as per you is a must see – must do at the Mumbai Con?

   The feel to Mumbai is completely different from Delhi, one should check out all the exhibits and stay the whole day! Some really awesome workshops and sessions are planned. And we have some really innovative activities planned with our partners and yes, the prizes for different contests are bigger and better than Delhi! 

10. How big is cosplay going to be ? Any special prizes for cosplayers?

   Well you’ll certainly see all of our team out in costume, that should motivate a lot of people to turn up in costume, cosplay details come out next week. We are planning a special “make your own costume” workshop as well, since there really aren’t any costume vendors in India. There will be a lot of incentives for people to turn up in costume.  

       
11. Any plans for expansion to other cities?
   
   The next comic con express venue city is in the works, we are considering quite a few options.  

Thanks for talking to ComicAddicts. We hope to have a blast at Comic Con and wish you all the best!