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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!
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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.

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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.
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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: 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.

Rooting for Ravan!

11 Sep
Call me odd (that will make the two of us) but there are times when I root for the bad guy. Always found that most good guys end up being, stereotypical Mr. Goody Two Shoes. The problem is that heroes are like open books. We know their past, their sufferings, their weakness, their strengths and their beliefs. Nothing is hidden from view. I mean, most superheroes even wear their underwear on the outside.

Most stories, irrespective of the format (movies, books or graphic novels) in which they are told, focus more on the hero. The villain is just put forth as a strong adversary to give the hero a challenge and a reason to exist. Not much is revealed about their lives. Or the parts that are revealed just add to their villainy. We know all the bad things Darkseid did or how naughty a boy Voldermort was.

So when Ravanayan was launched, I was excited. Based on the epic Ramayan by Valmiki (and not Ramanand Sagar as I grew up believing) this graphic novel story arc tells the story from the so called villain, Ravan’s point of view. It’s about time his side was heard.

I picked up the issue with great expectations and Holy Cow delivered the goods. And then some. The main highlight for me was the story. A complex character like Ravan needs a writer who is capable of understanding his psyche and put it forth in a manner that is not defensive. The job is to put forth the story from Ravan’s point of view. Not to turn him in to a hero. A good story gives you a moral. A great story gives you something to think about. I have a gut feeling Vijayendra will end up telling a great story.

After Bala from Nothern Song, Vijayendra has another demon’s story to tell. Looks like he will own this niche. A literal devil’s advocate. I liked the pace and manner in which the story was told. The twist in the initial part was unexpected. I knew of Valmiki’s past and yet was taken aback when the revelation was made. When you know something and yet the writer manages to catch you off guard, it can be safely said that you got a good story teller on your hands.

Moving on to the art. Vivek hadn’t lived up to my expectations in Werehouse 1. Ravanayan has made me raise my expectations from him. The art was amazing. Every panel seems like a labour of love and it shows. The initial fight sequence was especially very well conceptualized and executed. Apart from the illustrations, the angles and poses were also eye catching. The colorists, Yogesh and Komal have done a great job too. 

My own real grouse is about Ravan’s look! It is a tremendous improvement from Ramanand Sagar’s version but he looks too much like Geralt of Riveria. For the uninitiated, Geralt is the main character in the mind-blowing RPG ‘The Witcher’ and ‘The Witcher – Assassin of Kings’. But it is just a minor distraction, that’s all. The creators had mentioned that they have taken some liberties with the original script to take the story forward and the two fights in the first issue were part of the liberties I guess. I only hope these liberties are kept to a minimum. There is enough in the original script to provide an insight in Ravan’s motives without taking a lot of creative licenses.

The first issue is to me a tremendous effort. It really set the mood for the issues to come. I look forward to an enthralling story and great art. It might just be as good an epic as the original Ramayana.

Rajat’s Random Ramblings – Ravanayan Begins…

1 Jul


Comic Addicts has done it again. In an unprecedented move, we are doing, probably for the first time in India, a pre-release review of one of the most anticipated book this summer, Ravanayan.

This has only been possible with the cooperation of Mr. Vivek Goel the owner and the chief artist of the Holy Cow Entertainment, who was futuristic enough to realize the way cookie crumbles. Other Publisher friends… Ahem. We are waiting… Our public DEMANDS pre-release reviews!!! 😉

Anyway, as always, I get distracted and wander off to paths unexplored. Let us come back to the task at hand.

One of the 2 covers from Issue 1 – The inner turmoil – Sage Father, Demon Mother
Click on the image to view full size.


So dear readers, I was as excited as I can be when I found out that Vivek has finally decided to let Comic Addicts do a pre-release review of his upcoming summer blockbuster Ravanayan and couldn’t wait for it to be delivered. After signing and collecting it from my friendly neighborhood Post Man (he was bitten by a radioactive post during a field trip to the GPO, you see), I went deep inside my sanctum sanctorum, closed all windows and turned off all the lights except that one table lamp and sat down with Ravanayan’s double size first issue in my hands!

The first issue is actually a giant double issue, including 2 covers (YAY!!!) – that contains an awesome surprise! Especially for those who have pre-ordered the book. Good things come to those who wait, so be patient my Young Jedi.

The first cover is a beautiful artwork portraying Ravan surrounded with 9 demon heads (making it a total of 10, obviously) and has been colored vibrantly and brought to life by a young talented colorist Devayu.

The Demon Lord surrounded by his inner demons? Vibrant front cover by young Devayu
Click on the image to view full size



The story begins with an interesting character from Ramayan – someone you wouldn’t even dream of seeing in the story – who is in the middle of an exciting battle, which ends with a twist of events that leave him as confused, if not more, as he was before the battle commenced.


Okay. I guess after reading this sentence you might be as confused, if not more, as you were before this sentence started! 😛

Go on. Be confused. Make wild guesses. Threaten me, if you will, but I ain’t gonna give you any details about what happened or to whom. Nor am I going to reveal the slightest plot, because my dear readers, this is a book which you should own. There is no fun in just listening to the story or even reading it. You have to hold it in your hands, and watch the beauty and the magic brought alive by a team of young and extremely talented bunch of artists.

Kapow!!! An eye for an eye? I say aye!

The art for this issue has been done by Vivek singlehandedly. The special first part of the book has been colored by none other than our talented Mr. Pugaonkar. Incidentally this is the first storyboard that Yogesh has colored. Up until now he was being used exclusively for covers and promo arts. I must say going by the detail in colors and effects that he has done an impressive job here too. Not totally unexpected, mind you. He has obviously raised our expectations from him and might have to go even more extra steps to satisfy our hunger for awesome art now.

Catch me if you can… The Mace and the Face
Click on the image to view full size


We now move forward, leaving our bewildered character and all you bewildered readers behind – er actually, we will be moving backward in time. WAY back. A time before life became complex, before the world lost its beauty at the hands of man and demon alike, a time when things were simpler, easier to understand and adapt.

A time when 4 siblings were young, restless, happy and innocent. The chapter starts with a view of an Ashram in the middle of a jungle. Ravan, Kumbhkaran, Vibheeshan and Shoorpanakha are leading a peaceful and fun filled life in the Ashram, far from the maddening crowd. We are introduced to the 4 kids who are as similar to each other as they are different.


If we look back and refer to the original scripture, Ravan was the brilliant one, a Maha Pandit, a scholar and a warrior who had no equal. He conquered all the realms, beat even the most powerful Kings and ruled Lanka with a golden fist. Firm yet fair. His only downfall was his ego.


Vibheeshan, in the original story, was a kind hearted gentle man who detested violence and strives for peace. He is also sensible and level headed and has the head of a patience and logical man. He is the first to realize the consequences of facing a powerful warrior like Ram and also that when facing a superior opponent it might make more sense to compromise rather than fight and loose everything. His folly was poking at Ravan’s already inflated ego by telling a warrior of his caliber to surrender before another warrior, which not only antagonized him into sending his own brother in exile but also made him angry and mad. An infuriated warrior is prone to make mistakes, and so did Ravan.


Shurpanakha is the brat, who wants it all and goes right to her brothers whenever she doesn’t gets what she desired.


Kumbhakaran is the sloth and all he wants is to eat and sleep. Relatively simpler character out of the lot.


Alright. End of the lecture. Now that you have read this and revised your Ramayan facts, its time for you to forget all of them and be ready for a new outlook.


Yes, you will see familiar names, places, events but they are familiar only in name. In Ravanayan, you will experience new flavors to the same characters. Each carrying an aura of the familiar persona we mentally associate with them, but it is only a very small aspect of their personality.


All these characters have been drawn from the scratch, given life to and made to wear new clothes as well as new personality by the good folks at Holy Cow Entertainment.


The bond between the siblings, right here, forms the crux of the entire Ramayan and I’m sure that it will have a very important role to play in Ravanayan too.


We are introduced to a young Demon Lord who is just a kid right now, but already has the streaks of greatness, albeit tainted with an inherent darkness.


A quiet little boy, wise beyond his years, trying to look after his family and always striving to do the right thing.


A young brat of a girl, who is the apple of the eye of her brothers, who are ready to do anything and everything for the sake of their little sister.


A slothful, lazy boy who loves nothing more than sleeping and eating. No major surprises here, for sure. Or at least not at this point. Who know what will happen to young Kumbhakaran in the issues 2 to 10?


And as promised earlier, I ain’t gonna tell ya the story me hearties, am I? Hehehehe. Should have realized by now!

Terror in the Jungle… Young Demon Lord with his siblings
Click on the image to view full size

This Chapter 1 has also been drawn by Vivek and has been colored by Komal Surale. The art is as intricate as always and Komal has done a pretty neat job. Especially in this particular breathtaking action sequence full of blood and gore and a fantastic fight!

The effects for this issue are pretty good, although not really breathtaking, except in a few places. This might be due to the fact that all the art for Ravanayan 01 was done several months ago. Since then, however, all the young artists and colorists have come a LONG way. I have seen some samples of the future issues of Ravanayan and trust me boys and girls… If you think that the first issue is good, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

All in all, excellent script, very catchy, doesn’t get too slow or preachy at any point, except probably the first 2 pages, and keeps the pace even and steady all across the issue. The characters are well defined, given a very new and different aspect, despite the intense familiarity which any Indian child who was conscious during the 80s would feel with these characters. Ravan, Vibheeshan, Kumbhakaran and Shoorpanakha are familiar to all of us and thank to Ramanand Sagar’s turtle paced Ramayan television series a lot of us would have a pre-conceived notion about these main characters as I have already discussed earlier, but Vijayendra Mohanty manages to expertly dodge the comparison by keeping them distinctly different flavored yet bearing the same roots from the original epic.

It is a team of very young and talented artists, most of whom are working for the first time on a professionally published comics, and that is saying a lot. In fact, a little birdie told me that Holy Cow has worked with 9 virgin writers and artists already for their next few publications! Keep it up HC, we need the support of all our publishers to promote young and raw talent!

A sneaky peaky at things to come – keep watching this space!!!
Click on the image to view full size




Art work is excellent, much better than Were House, and as I had mentioned in my Re-Review of Were House, the type of art Vivek draws needs color to be able to express itself completely and become what was desired in the first place. The scenes and the places are very well drawn, the anatomy of characters is well proportioned and the best part is that art and story go along hand in hand at all times, without one leaving the other behind to seek individual glory.

THIS is what makes Ravanayan a book to take notice of. At the price Holy Cow has declared, this is a bloody bargain. If you like mythology, history, fiction, war, battles, kings, magic, fantasy, horror, gore or any other genre, this is a must have book in your collection.

And guess what? This is just the first volume!!! There are several more to come from the House of the Cow!! Moooooooooo!!!!

I urge thee, wait not, pre-order on Flipkart or just call Dial-a-book and get hold of this one before it goes out of stock. Watch out now, the day of reckoning is upon us and Lord Ravan is about to take over the world!!! Excellent comic, entertaining and fun to read and leaves you salivating and wanting for more. After I flipped close the back cover, the first thought that popped in my head was – Holy Cow!!! THIS is how mythological comics are done…