(This is second part of an article piece on Indian comics. The first one can be found at : here )
In the first article, we looked at what went before in the Indian comic scene. Now we are going to go a step further and understand what Indian comic scene looks like currently.
Recently many more comics have started cropping up, some even backed by big business house, while Amar chitra Katha and Raj comics continue to hold ground.
Fluid Friction comics have partnered with an Indian firm to publish comics inspired by Indian mythology.
Illustrated Orchids , a company operated by Indian Singaporean diaspora has launched comics based on Indian mythology and culture. The artwork is based on Manga like art and is sold in Malaysia, Singapore, India and Europe.
Another company Vimanika has launched comics , again based on Indian Mythology for Indian and foreign markets, which are very good.
Do we see a pattern here? Yup, everyone seems to love Indian mythology. But enthusiasts question the overabundance of such comics. However I cannot deny that Indian religion and allure of Indian mysticism sells, especially now that many Indians are settled abroad. They are also appealing to children in India, as they retell/ re-imagine the mythos that they have grown up reading about. So for business houses it makes sense to go with the safe and sellable product especially on foreign shores where there already is a comic culture. But what of our own comic culture? Will we never be able to look beyond religion and myth? Even Indians deserve variety. If the product is good, it will sell. Japan’s Manga industry is proof of this.
As if to answer this question, Campfire publications entered the market in 2009. They are publishing classics, biography and originals in graphic novel format.
Some Indians have also started independent foray into the world of graphic novels.
Corridor by Sarnath Banerjee is such an example.
Two more noteworthy additions to Indian comic scene are– “Jump” by Level10 studios and Comix.India who are trying to develop unique Indian content. The quality is debatable, though it’s a step in positive direction.
I am given to understand There are more on the way. Adventures would help unveil some of them as well 🙂
The picture is not all rosy however, and there is a long winding road to cover before victory.
An artist working freelance for one of these companies told me that by and large it is quite difficult for someone to work for Indian comic scene because they are not paid nearly enough. They need to have a full time job apart from comic industry to sustain them. Most of them are working in the growing Indian Animation scene as well. This is not true for all artists as some larger companies do pay well. But for a wider majority it is. Which I guess is true in any country. You need to have a certain level of skill before you can enter mainstream.
Additionally, Anime and Manga like everywhere else have caught up in India. With Anime associations forming in major cities. Though this is still at a nascent stage, their future is bright. I have randomly met two children of 8 years old who read Manga but are not aware of any other comics out there. Manga is catching them young. A feat that may make many companies jealous. The reason is their free availability over Internet.
Companies like Dark Horse/Tokyopop/Viz may scowl at sites like Onemanga, but it helped introduce manga to country like ours where there is no availability of such items. When you contrast it to companies like Marvel and DC, not many people know beyond what they see on the silver screen.
Manga has infact started pouring in through select stores, especially in the south, and they are selling like hot cakes because of the readymade audience thanks to online availability.
The biggest news yet is an attempt at organizing a comic convention. The first ever for India. From what I know, currently the organizers are looking out for sponsors. But the thought is there and it may be very soon when we see it materialized.
For me, the icing on the cake was when I met an Indian artist working for TOP COW publishing, which clearly told me, we do have the talent, and we know readers seem to be growing. All we need is a big push from some more corporates to get Indian comic scene going again and things does seem to be going in the positive direction.
Here’s hoping for the best.
-Disclaimer: This is a reproduction of the article published at Bleedingcool.com by me. All attempts were made to be faithful to timelines and publishers. I also realise that I might have missed out on some publications from South India. However If there is some inconsistancy or some periodical that you think should be mentioned, let me know and I would sort it out.