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Who is Aru, anyway?

13 Jul



A little History… 


Archie Comics, Walt Disney, and 2000AD

The first memory of ever seeing or reading a comic book was in, Nacovi, Nadi Town in Fiji. It was two different ones, an Archie and a Walt Disney Comics, with Goofy etc. Its reading these comics at the age of 7 or 8yrs old that has become the focal point in my life. 

The second memory is, when having moved to New Zealand with my mother in 1981.  A tent created with my knees under blanket at night, a small torch lighting the 2000AD comics, my friend had lent me.

Who would have thought that the from the age of 17 to 21yrs old would see myself spending thousands of dollars on comics and then losing then to the fire in 1999. And then I didn’t pick up a comic again till I began my studies for a Bachelors Degree in Digital Filmmaking in 2003. I got back into the comics as a way of meeting/making news friends in a city, Invercargill, New Zealand. I also started trading in them and also collecting as an investment. And have continued that trend up till now 8yrs later.  

A Writer is Born
The previous 2yrs I had watched all the Star Trek Next Gen, Voyager, Enterprise, Deep Space Nine,

and then the best Sci-Fi series in the universe,

. And having read almost all the Babylon 5 novels I became inspired to write my own Sci-Fi series. (I have written the 1st Pilot and most Season 1 and will at some stage, will illustrate or get an Illustrator it for a graphic novel.  


The Circle Graphic Novel
The highlight of the studies was making my own 90mins length Student Feature Film, which I wrote/directed and shot on a HDV Cam. It was this that U decided to turn into a graphic novel and I then spent 2.5yrs using a mouse with Adobe Photoshop turning the film into a 148 page graphic novel, called The Circle. A crime/drama story about four male students. Which had, up till last month 55000+ hits with 8 to12 months on myebooks.com until I took it down as I want to get this printed.

Incredi-Girl  Comic Book Series
I then decided to write a Superhero book especially for my niece who was 6yrs old at the time and Incredi-Girl was named by her and an acquaintance who I had given a PC drawing tablet to work on it only did the 1st issue before ended all communication with me. 

Months later while asking for an Illustrator to help complete the artwork on DeviantArt.com, I was able to find Mike Burbbeck, who completed 6 of the 7 issues, which I decided to Color (my 1st time) and Letter it. I still need to finish lettering and coloring it.  
(art by Mike Burbek in pics, left & right, all others are by me.)


The Girmit Graphic Novel

Last year I separated from my wife after 9yrs of marriage and did two university papers in Bachelors Degree in Visual Arts. For one of the papers I decided to put my 5yrs of research I had been doing on the history of the Indians in Fiji Islands. I wrote/illustrated/colored and lettered the first volume.  I have several trips to Fiji for this book. I have started work on the 2nd volume, but since this volume is very emotional and has a lot of painful ordeals in it I want to be in a right set of mind to write and illustrate it. 





For the past 10 weeks I have been doing a weekly single page upload of a comic book series on to a Facebook page about a world parallel to ours, only 25yrs ahead of ours. It’s a Sci-Fi political drama with the main character being a radio talk show host.  I am hoping to have this in print after I have completed the first pages.

Scriptwriter/Storyteller
 I have written and completed several movie and graphic novel scripts. And having created the world of Zero © I will be including some of those as part of Zero©. My strength lies in script writing but due to necessity I have also started doing my own illustrations. 

For Scriptwriting I use a programe called CeltX. I have been using this app for over 6yrs and I find it very user friendly and since they add the Comic set-up bit its made comic writing so much faster and easier. 

As far as stories go, I write in nearly all the genres; from Science Fiction to Crime to Horror to Dramas. 

Artist 
I actually don’t like illustrating as it takes too much time and I like to utilize my time writing, but due to costs involved in acquiring an Artist to work on my projects I have started to work on my own work. And so, from now on until I can afford to pay someone I will carry on working on my stories myself as I have enough stories to keep going for 10yrs.  

Software
I work on a Windows OS HP DV3000 Notebook and a MacBook Pro Snow Leopard OS 10.6.8. Manga Studio Ex is the Software I use but I also use Photoshop CS5 and Illustrator from time to time. But I find the best software for illustrating, lettering and design for comics is Manga Studio EX 4. I also use a Wacom InTous4 Drawing Pad 6″x9″ which for me, due to my wrist injury is flexible to use and using the pad makes the process of drawing digitally so much easier.

Freelance Comic Work
I am looking for work as Freelance as a Letterer and Graphic Designer for Comic Book logos and layouts. I have an extensive background in Art and Graphic Design and am fluent with several Creative Suites.
  
Well, that’s my comic addiction in a coconut shell. 

I am off to Zinefest over the weekend and so next I am hoping to have some video interviews and pics from the festival. Zinefest will have lots NZ comic book creators around promoting and selling their works.  

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The Pondering Pawaskar – An opinion on WERE HOUSE titled…….If wishes WERE HORSES….or…..I’m a WERE-ASS….

23 Jun
[The author wishes to make it ridiculously clear that the opinions mentioned below have sprung from his own messed up head & the owners/administrators/co-contributors (one of whom has been mentioned below) of this site do not necessarily support these opinions. He would understand if the said owners/administrators/co-contributors resort to concocting tales of his dementia or of his being a were-ass to counter the bad publicity the opinions below might garner.]

I titled this article as an opinion instead of a review because I believe that reviews are done by people who know a thing or two about comics. Opinions on the other hand are like assholes. Everyone has one and so I qualify! Two things to note before you read. There are SPOILERS and a spoilt comic geek stuck in a thankless job venting his fury ahead. You have been sufficiently warned.

I learnt to never judge a book by its cover! You should learn to never judge a book by its review. Read it yourself.
Indian Comics are touted to be in a resurgence mode. The news gladdens the very heart which winces a little when I go through most of the new fangled comics launched recently. Were House is one such book which while not as bad as some other books out there, didn’t turn out as good as I hoped it would. The hype had me salivating like Pavlov’s dog while the actual book made me realize how the same dog felt when Pavlov rang the bell but didn’t deliver the doggie snacks. Bad boy Pavlov.
To be honest, Were House does do a lot of things right. But it also does a lot of things wrong. Let’s take it story by story and then come to the art and other itty-bitty things called details.
Guardian Demon
Imagine Harry Potter’s entire story coming as a chapter in English medium balbharti textbook. How if Mr. Tolkien had crammed the entire Lord of the Rings saga on a paper napkin? Point is that every story needs a different amount of time to flourish. When one has just about 8 pages to tell a story in, the plot should be simple with a maximum of a couple of twists. In Guardian Demon, (MAJOR and I mean MAJOR SPOILERS) we’re introduced to a peaceful village that is destroyed except for a single survivor who is then saved by a were-leopard who he then nurses back to health and later trains under till he’s capable enough for being presented before a goddess who grants him power before he and his mentor venture forth to an ancient temple where they fight off an army of henchmen prior to taking on the main villain, a warlord, who gets pissed off at them and fights them to the death but not before he kills the boy’s mentor and leaves him all alone again!
I shall give you a much needed pause and some visual relief.

A visual representation of what happened to the Guardian Demon!
Click the image to view full size

The reason I scrunched the entire story in one sentence is to prove my point that a story with so much happening should not have been told in a single story. Don’t get me wrong. I think the plot had a lot of potential. Akshay could have pulled out a 10 issue maxi-series out of this single story. He would then have been able to bring the story alive and create characters we all could have loved and cared about. The way it was rushed didn’t allow me to relate with any of the characters. I didn’t feel sorry for the protagonist’s loss, get taken aback when the leopard was revealed to be a lycanthrope or be astounded when he met the goddess. All of them just happened and I was an uninterested viewer. The main villain (Mayur is it?) didn’t even instigate a yawn. Forget about dread. The plot as I said was promising but was too rushed and certainly out of place in a book that has horror as a theme.


Mousetrap

Simple story? Check. Minimum but effective twists? Check. Goosebumps? A few. Mousetrap is the best story of the lot. I liked it more because of the were-creature! A mouse trapping humans. Even the title is spot-on. Good job Soumya Das. Take a bow. I’m really not in a mood to say good things so let’s move on.

Mousetrap – Plain brilliant
It’s a dog’s death

Shweta, in the write-up following the story, mentions that the story is built up on a fear brought along from a dark, dark corner of her mind. Are they playing Terminator in the theatre in that corner of the mind? Robots taking over the world? Mankind in fear of extinction? Let’s keep the inspiration apart and consider a few logical aspects. I always believed that lycanthropes are shape shifting creatures that change forms as they wish or according to certain cycles in nature. The transformation into were-dhols was permanent. Doesn’t that make them mutants and not lycanthropes? The choice of dhols as the were-creature should have been avoided as they ended up looking as werewolves and not were-dhols. Logically why would humans combine themselves with dogs to survive extinction?

Wouldn’t combining with cockroaches (who have been around since before the dinosaurs) be more apt? Ohhhh…A were-cockroach. Put in a creature as creepy as Jeff Goldblum in ‘The Fly’ and you got a winner.

“Hasta la Windows 7, baby…”
One for the fictional fights T-600 vs Were-dhols or should it be Were-Woofs?
Again, like Guardian Demon, this story too failed to register as a horror story. But the story has a few redeeming points. Unlike Guardian Demon, the story didn’t try squeezing too many elements in the actual story. The back story was spelt out separately in the beginning. Plus the plot of the story that was illustrated was simple and the twist in the end was immensely satisfying.
Art AKA Vivek Goel

The problem with art here is that some frames are mind-numbingly awesome. They make the ones which are not, stick out like Wolverine in a Teletubbies episode. My personal favorite is that of the were-rat dragging the maid’s corpse with her insides spilling out! YIKES. The fight scenes among the were-dhols are also good. However, the two fight scenes in Guardian Demon were not up to the mark. There is inconsistency in the art too. Some panels are very detailed with good amount of attention paid to the background. Others are in limbo and seem hastily drawn. Plus I think the B&W execution didn’t really work out. The effect would have been great for a horror themed book which Were House promised to be but didn’t turn out to be.

Details

God is in the details. Going by that description, many of the new comic book houses  seem to be atheists as the details are horribly ignored. An excerpt from Guardian Demon reads, “I trusted her with my very” Very last piece of clean underwear? Another gem comes in the end, “My time is done. You were never always meant to take my place. And you never will.” Huh? Maybe I was never always meant to understand that sentence and I never will!
Ahhh! The joys of clean underwear!
There are typos and grammatical mistakes in a few places in the write-ups. Another grouse is that the flow is wrong at a lot of places. I had to make an effort to figure out what part I have to read first. In many cases the response gets read first and the stimulus comes later. It wrecks the entire reading experience. I know I sound like a grumbling old man and I shudder to think how I’ll be when I am actually a grumbling old man. However all these books are spear heading the comic resurgence in India and while others prefer a lenient attitude, I don’t. One has to get the basics right. I don’t want these guys to run before they walk. I just want them to walk properly!

To sum up…

Guardian Demon : Great plot potential squandered by rushed story telling.
Mousetrap : LOVED IT.
It’s a dog’s death : Inspired plot but good twist in the end.
Vivek Goel : Has to dig deeper in his inner awesomeness.

BTW

I DO NOT intend to demean any creator’s hardwork. I just want them to pull up their socks. I am doing my Pavlov’s dog routine all over again for RAVANAYAN. I have full faith that Vijayendra and Vivek will make me go HOLY COW when I see it. All the best. Don’t turn the were-dhols on me or I’ll be like a mouse trapped without a guardian demon!!!