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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!

 

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!

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!

A day in the park with Daksh’s creator!

6 Sep
Welcome back addicts! Today brings an EXTRA special treat for one and all!

We have for your pleasure, an interview with Shamik Dasgupta, Indian comic scribe extraordinaire, and uber-brain behind the already iconic “Daksh”.
In our last interview with Shamik he promised that he would be revealing all about this new comic that has built a whirlwind of energy around it, to us here at ComicAddicts. And true to his promise, here he is in a candid conversation with us on Daksh
(Also, we have been graciously given some sample pages of spectacular art to preview especially for all of you – click them to see them in all their wicked glory!!)
(Click to enlarge!)

CA: Shamik, thanks again for taking the time to be here. If you don’t mind we’re in total fan-mode and will dive right into the deep end!

CA: After a stormy start and a lot of great fan-approval, Daksh has finally reared his head again! Admittedly, we couldn’t have been more pleased, except perhaps if it had been sooner. Where has Daksh been so far and why did it take so long for him to come back again?
SD: Well actually there had been some disruptions after the first issue which took us some time to get back in gear, but when we did we went full steam ahead. There were speculations whether we would follow the usual conventions with Daksh and keep it for all ages or we should go completely mature on this title. Finally and thankfully Level 10 decided to establish their brand Comic Jump as a full fledged mature oriented magazine and my shackles were broken. This is possibly the most fun I ever had writing a series with no holds barred.

CA: Whats the master plan for Daksh now? Are you thinking mini-series, ongoing, whats the future?

SD: Daksh Season 1 will be three issues of 44 pages each, coming in three separate instalments in Comic Jump. Each issue is gonna be bigger badder and better than the consecutive one. I cannot reveal much, but Daksh will be integrated in the ‘Level 10 Universe’ more organically in near future
CA: Daksh was seemingly a magnet for controversy from the moment it saw print, is that still the case or is it past?
SD: First of all I do not believe in that controversy to begin with. The person in question was contacted by me personally and I was in favour of settling the disputes. I suggested the best possible solution months back and now I am still waiting to hear from him regarding his decision. However the first issue has gone for print and henceforth whatever solutions I was interested in are not viable anymore since he never reverted back to me.
CA: Do you expect anymore of a backlash from any of the audience/other companies regarding Daksh?
SD: All I can say is everyone is entitled to their opinions and the freedom to voice them out. I can only keep on working harder trying to entertain the readership. To me they are the judge, jury and executioner, to me they are GOD. If Daksh is destined to be a success it will be because of them. If they decide to reject Daksh solely on the merit of the quality of story, concept or art I will humbly accept that too.
CA: What should all the fans be looking forward to in this new volume?
(Click to enlarge!)

SD: A bold step ahead in presenting a super-heroic/supernatural character shedding all inhibitions and going full throttle ahead breaking all norms of Indian comic book characters. I will reiterate this comic book is definitely not for kids. Kids can f#*k off and bury their bratty heads in video games and Harry Potter. If someone comes to me and complains why this comic is not meant for kids? or perhaps one kid picked it up and learnt some slangs from it I will humbly flip the bird at that individual since he/she is an illiterate and cannot read that big ‘Rated M – Mature Readers’ written in bold on the cover. He/she shouldn’t have bought it for his/her kid in the first place. This is possibly my best vengeance against people who believe comics are meant for kids. Daksh is a very personal creation of mine and I have created it for people who thinks like me and shares a similar mental space.

CA: We have to ask now, what is the first issue all about? We’re dying for some peeks at what to expect!.
SD: Well here’s a bit of a spoiler and slight advance disappointment – the September 2011 issue of Jump will contain two stories of Daksh, one we have already read in the December 2010 Jump Independent special, the beginning and origin of Daksh and the next one will be spanking new, featuring one of the adversaries we had glimpsed at the end of the first issue. However the first issue that will be printed in this one will be the uncensored version (rated R), this is how it was meant to be…with an explosion of expletives, some more skin show and the print quality and format will be far better than the previous one. This will also help bringing in the new readers, the number of Comic Jump fans have grown considerably in the past few months.
CA: We heard that Devmalaya Pramanik is taking over art duties now. So what happened to the amazing Biboswan Bose who brought the first story to such amazing life?
SD: You have heard right, Devmalya Pramanik is helming the art of Daksh henceforth. Biboswan Bose unfortunately cannot continue as he has chosen academics over comics (which is quite practical if nothing else *chuckles*), pursuing his B.A degree in history and does not have the time to dedicate in the sequential art medium.
CA: Are we likely to see Bibo’s artwork anywhere else in comics in the future?
SD: The last I heard he is interested in doing independent pieces like covers and pin-up art but sequential pages will be a bit hard on his busy schedule.
(Click to enlarge!)
CA: How has it been, working with Devmalaya?
SD: Possibly the best experience in my life and I have considerable experience when it comes to collaborate with artists. The other very enjoyable team-up I had was with Jeevan Kang on Ramayan 3392 AD Reloaded issues 1-7, working with Dev is very reminiscent of that. Devmalya has an impeccable perception of reading my mind and sometimes it freaks me out since he is as telepathic as a kid version of Charles Xavier when it comes to me. He is possibly the hottest new talent out there and the amount he is improving with each page is phenomenal…all this at the age of 20. He is presently working on the 4th issue of Daksh and I can vouch that it is nothing but international in quality. I am really proud and honored that I have him on board as the artist for Daksh.
CA: Can you walk us through the day-to-day creative process for Shamik and Devmalaya, that brings the comics from thought to paper to the final-page?
SD: Like I said there is very little to this creative process as his skills fit over mine like a snug little glove, whatever I write he visualizes it perfectly. I am an extremely finicky bastard when it comes to art but to my amazement I have very little to say when he finishes each page and sends them across to me. Honestly most of the times I am too awestruck to say anything and very few artists have that effect on me. Also I would like to mention Neeraj Menon, who has been like a pillar of strength and has collaborated with the same dexterity with his colors as he did in the first issue. Last but not the least Tazeen Shaikh whose letters bring life to the world of Daksh. Did I forget to mention Jeevan Kang whose incredible cover graces the September issue of Comic Jump? Fie on me!
CA: Before we begrudgingly take our leave and let you get back to work, could you in 5 lines or less tell everyone out there why people should read Daksh?
SD: Hmmm…two lines – Nothing like this has ever happened in the pages of Indian comics which so far have been dominated by directionless do-gooders. You might love Daksh, you might absolutely despise him, but once you read the September 2011 issue of Comic Jump you just cannot ignore this BASTARD anymore! 

Till next week Addicts! 

Brainstorming with Bibo Bose

7 Jul
Biboswan Bose – the name that has been making people crazy since his first work on Level 10 Comics’ “Jump Independent’s Daksh” is the subject of our interest tonight.
This young art star was recently interview by another youngster Anupam Sarkaar – who is a budding artist himself. Here is the transcript of the same:
A brilliant rendition of Zombie by Bibo!
Click on the image to view full size





Anupam Sarkaar: Let me start by asking the usual question, how did you get a break in comics?

Biboswan Bose: I always had an interest in comic art, and have been doodling indefatigably since I can remember. However, it was during my high school years that I met Shamik da (Shamik Dasgupta) through a social networking site, and it is through him that I got to draw Daksh later on. Although we are not currently working together, I would like to express my gratitude towards Shamik da for letting me work with him.

A still from Shamik Dasgupta’s Daksh
Click on the image to view full size


AS: All of us have seen your brilliant artwork in Daksh. So, how was the journey while making the characters come to life?

BB: I am not sure whether my artwork on Daksh can be described quite so effusively (or should I say, generously), since it has a rather large number of shortcomings, but I can attest to the fact that it was challenging.
 During the designing stage, we had a surprisingly short amount of time, and I am still not sure whether I would have gone with the same designs if I had a different deadline. Shamik da helped me a lot during the process, and Yama (who I believe has the best design of the lot) is basically his design with a few twists that I added during the final stages while pencilling the panels.
 In conclusion, I must say, the characters ended up looking quite presentable (which, I have an inkling, has a lot to do with Neeraj’s colouring), and I was glad to have the printed issue in my hands.

Talking about bringing images to life…
Click on the image to view full size


An awesome artwork by Bibo – Satvar
Click on the image to view full size



AS: Who have been the biggest influence of your life?

BB: If I were to even attempt drawing up a list of the people who have had a bearing on my life, I believe it would occupy a rather obnoxious amount of digital space. Suffice it to say that it is what one could call an eclectic mix; one that includes parents, cousins, friends, teachers, artists, film makers, authors, musicians, historians, and philosophers and keeps growing with every passing day.



A FANtastic Fan Art of Batman vs The Joker!!! Totally rad!
Click on the image to view full size and don’t view it for too long if you’re weak of heart or nerve…


AS: Any future comic projects you are planning to do?

BB: Currently, I have no comic projects that I am working on. As far as the future is concerned, I suppose one always plans or at least hopes for projects to come her or his way, but for me that wish is yet to be realized.



The portrait of a King
Click on the image to view full size


Mahishasur – Concept art by Bibo the Brilliant!
Click on the image to view full size


AS: Ah…The final question has finally come, how do you think the indie scene is holding up lately?

BB: This is a tricky question for me, since I am quite new to the scene and have very little idea of the indie comic situation. Although I have to say, judging by the people I have had the pleasure to get in touch with during the process, that the indie scene has a powerhouse of talented and dedicated individuals who are constantly trying to push the quality and market value of these titles. I can only hope that with such people buttressing the scene, indie comics will find its own niche soon enough.

 I don’t believe I have had the chance to thank Comic Addicts for their gesture yet; so yes, I would like to say that I really appreciate this opportunity that you provided me with to answer your questions. It has been a pleasure, and an honor.



Pencils for Daksh. Keep watching for more Daksh in the next issue of Jump
Click on the image to view full size

… and if you liked Daksh, you’re surely love his Dad!!! Yumm! Hungry, anyone?
Click on the image to view full size


About Bibo:

Biboswan Bose
Age:21, State: West Bengal, Nationality: Indian(Isn’t it obvious! J)
Favourite artists: Hussar, Min, Joe Mad, Nic Klein, Dex, Nox, Jason Chan, Marko Djurdjevic, Min Yum, Phil Hale,etc
Specializing In: Digital painting, Comic Pencilling
Tools ‘O Trade: Wacom Bamboo, Pencils(HB,2H)
Previous Works: Some private commissions and stuff
Visit him and check out more of his awesome art athttp://vritrasdemise.deviantart.com/

"Virgin comics was both a boon and a bane on Indian comics" – Shamik Dasgupta in a tell all interview

26 May

Comic addicts got up close and personal with the talent power house Shamik Dasgupta, well known for his hit series from erstwhile Virgin comics – Ramayana 3392 AD , and his latest collaboration with Level 10 comics – Daksh.
Shamik speaks about his career post Ramayana 3392 AD , Irkin comics , the Daksh controversy , his current work and provides his perspective on Indian comic scene.  
Q:. After your stint with virgin comics is level 10 the first Indian comics company you have worked
with?
A: No, I have worked previously with Arkin Comics, a Pune based company which came out with
a bunch of interesting content in 2009-10. I was writing for their flagship title ‘Irith’ which is about a
band of Indian super-soldiers designed specifically to combat a newly emerged terrorist outfit who are
packed with alien technology.
Q: Sounds interesting, what happened with your work with them then?
A:: Arkin management had shut down in mid 2010…as it is with most new fangled comic publishing
houses they ran out of money. We had published around two issues of Irith and had work done for
almost five issues but they never saw the light of day.
Q: How did this opportunity with Daksh and Level 10 came about ?
A: Level 10 had announced their creator owned content for Jump Magazine #6 in mid 2010, I thought
of it as an opportunity to showcase the art of a very talented and young artist from Kolkata called
Biboswan Bose and establish a property based on an anti-hero or a dark hero.
Most of the superhero characters in India are squeaky clean; hence it was more like proving a
point for us. Money was not an issue; it was kind of an obstinate rage that fuelled the completion
of the comic. I am immensely indebted to my artist friend Biboswan, colorist Neeraj Menon, letterer
Tazeen Shaikh and publisher Level 10 alongside celebrity guest artists like Abhishek Singh Malsuni,
Shashank Mishra and Jeevan Kang for their contribution and helping this small independent project to
reach the height of being almost an event.
Q: That issue was unique form Indian perspective, as it had creator owned content and the highlight was definitely your work on Daksh. But soon thereafter, Daksh was embroiled in a controversy. What is your take on the entire thing?
A: Good things always come with a dash of spice and perhaps the so called controversy was the
spice that was sprinkled on Daksh.
Q: What is the status quo of that controversy now? Are things settled between Shadab/Raj and you?
A: There are no matters to settle, Daksh has a different outlook to a plot that is wholly not original
altogether, and the basis of the story is built on a poem by Kalidasa called ‘Meghadutam’. There have
been no legal issues between myself and Raj.
Q. Does that mean, we are going to see Daksh again sometime soon?
A: Perhaps. No one can tell! But all will be revealed on this space in due time.
Q: Well, if you are being sly about Daksh right now, let us ask you what are you working on these
days?
A: Currently I am working with a media house in Mumbai who are planning to venture in the unknown
and mystical realm of comics and animation. Presently things are under wraps once we are ready
there will be a major announcement.
Q: Are you working/planning to work in an comic related project in the future?
A: Yes Indeed!
Q. What is your perspective on the Indian comic scene right now?
It was in a deplorable state a couple of years back, but thankfully things are picking up. What this
industry needs is a major boost financially.
Q: You have a long history of working in comics and working across publishers. What has the journey been like?
A: Come on dude, don’t make me feel like an old man (though I sometime feel age is finally catching
up on me). The journey so far has been wonderful. I started working with the people who actually
seemed like the messiahs of comics in India…namely Virgin Comics. I started working with them even
before the inception of Virgin comics and perhaps those were the most passionate days of my life.
Virgin actually proved the point that international level talent and potential is actually present in India,
the fire was burning from the beginning and all it needed was a bit of fanning of the green paper.
Virgin finally brought the much needed fan to ignite that fire and by jove it spread like wildfire. But as
you know the messiahs had proven to be false prophets and after a great beginning the company fell
flat on their faces in mid 2008.
It was a severely wrong management decision to market content created by and for Indians in a
foreign market and try to compete with Titans like DC and Marvel. Virgin learnt the lesson but in a
hard way and with them they brought down the great glass castles we all built in our hearts. Virgin
was both the boon and bane for Indian comics. Boon in the sense it gave exposure to a lot of Indian
talents on a global platform and bane in the sense after Virgin no other large corporations are going to
burn their hands in the same fire.
A strong belief was growing that comics cannot be possible in India but good people in Level 10, Raj,
Campfire are proving it wrong gradually. Still there are very few players in the market and we have a
long way to go…a really long way to go, I am not talking in terms of miles I am talking in terms of light
years!
Q: What are your suggestions for making comic scene more appealing for readers and creators alike?
A: My first and foremost demand is quality…not only in terms of story and art but all over. Comics
has to become a symbol of cool for the young generation the way MTV has become and that is
not possible only through retelling of Mythology or classics. There has to be the presence of strong
intellectual properties which can transcend to games, movies, animation, merchandise…the works.
People who say comics are back dated, should realize so was radio and vividh bharati until the fm
channels started flooding the air. There has to be a huge influx of talents, finances and consciousness
for the medium to make it a success and yes we must take bold steps. Gone are the day when
mythological retelling in graphic format ruled the market and still does(that gives us an idea how
stagnated we are when it comes to imagining and creativity). It is time young blood is injected in this
much neglected medium.
Q: What are you reading comic wise these days?
A: I have bought the entire Swamp Thing run by Alan Moore which comprise six TPBs and what a
pleasure it is to read the master at work. It simply takes you to another world and another era.
Q: Who is your favourite character out there?
A: Awww…I can tell you the characters I hate, but the characters i love, it is such a long list that you
will need a separate java scripting to fit them in all
Q: How did you end up doing comics?
A: It was nothing conscious, and I cannot do anything else but comics…I am totally useless otherwise.
In 2003 I saw an advert published in one of the Gotham comics, they were looking for people
interested in making comics and they were hiring. I could not resist and ended up in bangalore. It
was a small place, an operations office and studio combined and I met Jeevan Kang, the erstwhile
studio chief there. He showed me some of his concept arts on Ramayana, and that was it I wanted
in. I couldn’t believe Ramayana can be told in such a cool manner. I tried beyond my capabilities and
finally was accepted after eight months as a studio co-ordinator in Gotham Studios. Years passed
by and finally the dream of doing Ramayana and that also with Jeevan as an artist was fulfilled when
finally we made Ramayan 3392 AD Reloaded together in 2006. The rest was pure awesomeness
Q: What would be your dream project?
A: I had already worked on my dream project Ramayan 3392 AD, it was my most extensive and
acclaimed work till date but the comic was discontinued after Virgin closed down. My dream (which
mostly will be unfulfilled) is to complete the epic someday. Au revoir….

Dheeraj Verma Speaks from Seattle Emerald city comicon!

9 Mar
Dheeraj Verma with Great Phoenix Jones
It was a really very nice feeling at ECCC and lot of fans were there, city was freezing but the welcome by the organizers was very warm, I love that.

Seattle is one of the best city I found in US after the San Diego. City was small but very pleasant to live there. Beautiful place and surrounded by sea and got a chance to meet so many people like Max Brooks, sitting next to me, as well as the team of Avatar Press,  Dave and Keith, both are such a nice persons and as usual Mike Wolfer and Jason.
Dheeraj Sir with Poison Ivy

People were looking to enjoy  for 3 days and am sure they enjoyed the show. I am puttin some of the pics I took , especially of real time Hero : the Great Phoenix Jones, a real super hero who fights with the criminals in Seattle streets in night and when I met him I was not aware that who is he, but when Keith told me about I was really amazed that we have such peoples in here on earth who are real time Super Heroes. A big salute to him, while to saving peoples he faced the guns and other weapons of course but he is tough guy and no doubt again a Super Hero.

Bye for now and will keep you update time to time. 
Till
Chow,

Dheeraj Verma

Nikesh Murli and Vinay Brahmania on Veera the Gaurdian

8 Mar

The team of  Veera the Gaurdian, Nikesh Murli and Vinay brahmania gives us their perpective on the graphic novel and shares some exclusive interior pages with us. ( click them to revel in their full glory!)


1.     Where many people shy away from Writing / working from comics, what made you think of doing this project as a graphic novel?

 NM:I have been writing and publishing short fiction for over a decade now and I teach fiction writing at university. For me comic books represented a new challenge in story telling because of the unique marriage between images and text.
I am a keen student of story structure and I do a lot of workshops/seminars for budding writers. When the opportunity for Veera came via an open call on COMIX INDIA blog, I jumped at the opportunity because I have been waiting to study the genre for a long time and here was a golden opportunity to combine what I knew about fiction with the conventions of comic books. I devoured books by Alan Moore, Will Eisner and Scott McCloud on the theoretical aspects and went back and studied everything from PREACHER to THE DARK TOWER graphic novel adaptations which have a prominent place on my book shelf.
Working with a major daily like DinaMalar and an uber talented artist like Vinay was something I couldn’t say no too.

 V: I accept that not many people want to be writing or drawing comics because its not very economically beneficial yet. The credit of getting nikesh and me together goes to dinamalar. They were launching a weekly magazine for kids, nikesh had a story and I was itching to draw


2.     What was the inspiration behind the concept of Veera ?
V: Honestly, The inspiration credit goes to nikesh it is his concept totally I just visualised and drew him
NM: Veera can be described as the hero’s journey in Slum Dog Millionaire + the emotional journey of characters in J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek.
I wanted to add emotional depth to the protagonists while still framing their journeys using Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.
I also wanted to tell a story about children who are neglected and abused, irrespective of the social class they are from, and the strength it takes to face the past while battling the present.
While I have used techniques from comic book storytelling to bring the world of Veera to life, the series is written like a TV show, not only in terms of the 12/season episodic structure, but also the way each issue has been broken, to ensure that there are no boring story beats
I think the positive buzz from the first few weeks have justified my decision to attempt this fusion of dramatic storytelling devices.
3.     The synopsis sounds very kid friendly. What is your target audience?

NM: I had strict instructions from DinaMalar that they wanted a series for kids. The impression I got from speaking to the editor was that he was looking for something that was traditional but strong enough in the story department to keep the MICHAEL BAY generation hooked.
4.     What do you think is one of the most attractive features about Veera.

NM: I think the emotional journey that the characters undertake will resonate with children and adults alike. Not to mention the awesome action set pieces!

Veera wants to escape his wretched life in the slums and his abusive father but his sense of responsibility and love for his mother and brother, holds him back.

Nayana’s psyche has never healed from the trauma of a childhood event and she doesn’t view the role of a Guardian as a divine duty, but a burden that was imposed on her by the man who rescued her and adopted her as a child.

Vasu does not understand his anger and the sense of disgust he feels towards the poverty and filth that surrounds Veera. He feels responsible for his father’s death and knows deep in his heart that he may never measure up to his father. Add to this, the fact that he is overly protective of Nayana and loathes Veera’s friendship with her, we have the potential for conflict that can be mined for gold over several seasons.

V: I think Murli has explained beatifully, what I can add is the fact that the contrast in Veera’s Character from a humble downtrodden rag picker to being a chosen one is totally fun to see. I love it.

5.      How was working with Each other? did you guys argue about certain things or was it a seamless partnership?

V: I feel things went way too smoothly between us. We both saw the concept almost through the same lens. Whatever revisions happened were logical to the story line

NM: I can’t praise Vinay enough for his professionalism and talent. I am in awe of his abilities and the way in which he has visualised my story.

6. Artwise, Why did you guys chose this particular style?


V: Well when it all began I did character sheets for all characters and nikesh was comfortable to take this style to the final drawing board


7. Vinay, your father is associated with Bahadur comics. Any plans of Bahadur in your future?

V: Yeah bahadur was dads dream hero we all loved him very much. I would love to work on bahadur but it is being handled by Mr Abid and my younger brother pramod they are doing good stuff.


8.     It’s been some time since its release. How has the response been for Veera?

NM: It is very humbling to be a part of a great tradition of comic book storytelling in India.

I have been informed by the publishers that the response was amazing and that they were inundated with telephone calls and letters, praising the new venture, so much so that Dinamalar printed a thank you in their daily edition to recognise and appreciate the support

Tamil comic book bloggers have said kind things about Veera.
9.     You are givin the entire novel for downlaod for free? Whats the idea behind that?
NM/V: It was DinaMalar’s idea. Siruvar Malar, the supplement in which Veera is published, is distributed for free. So it made sense to give it away as a free electronic download. I think it has paved way for increased readership. It looks gorgeous on the IPAD! Btw, the link to download Veera is :here:
10.  In 5 lines or less, Why should I read Veera?
NM: If you like epic quests set in fantastical worlds where brave protagonists battle inner and outer demons to find the meaning of what happened in the past and seek a destiny to light their path in the future, you will LOVE Veera! Don’t be fooled by the fantasy tropes, Veera is and always will be about the inner journey of the human psyche.
 V: It is a bundle of action adventure and fantasy. It’s a great story and I have tried to do justice to the art I have played with colors to keep it bright and interesting to kids. I promise it is worth a dekho. 

9.  Whats your next projects?

V: I am individually working on another series of comics for kids (fantasy adventure),one mythological based character series and one mature reader comic about an anti terrorist group. I am planning to complete all three than look for interested publishers
NM: Once the Tamil run is complete, I will be publishing Veera ‘s English edition.Hopefully, Season 2 of Veera. We have just skimmed the surface in terms of exploring the characters and their journeys and we haven’t even met the key players in Kaal, who want the conflict to spill into that world. Without giving away any spoilers, season one is not gift wrapped and delivered to your door in a neat package, it is messy; the Guardian’s have stirred the hornet’s nest. And there will be blood to look forward to.

I am working on a lit fic novel for my PhD and also developing several other novel length projects for YA and children. Also on the lookout for an artist to collaborate on a 7 issue comic book targeted at girls for an American company. If anyone is interested, drop me a line.

Project Reveal: Were House : Vivek Goel shows and tell

7 Mar

Lets start with the obvious question Vivek, you have got everyone excited with the brilliant art you have shown recently at your and our facebookpage. Time to tell us some more about the origin of your new project: Were House:
This project basically began with a curiosity, to do something black n white. Since I do tight pencils and my art style is also very noir/dark, horror provided with the perfect opportunity. I am mostly tagged as being a mythology/fantacy artist (can’t help it, this is what I have got to draw till date) I desperately wanted to break from it but since my other creator owned project Ravanayan wasn’t goin to allow me to do that for a long time, I decided to do something in it myself 🙂
Click to see in full size

It seems you have chosen shape shifting animals as your subjects this time.
  I was always into animals and am very fascinated by the amazing concept of Lycantrope (shape shifting) and so the idea of doing a mini series based on different creatures depicting different degrees of Lycantropy hatched. It is a kind of project that has been done and a no. of times (take a werewolf) and that is why I wanted to give it a different take and took the native Indian animals as the lycantropes !!
Tell us a little about the team of Were House.
  I wanted to have a veriety and so i started looking for different writers and got blessed in the form of Super talented Akshay Dhar, Shweta Taneja and Soumya Das who have written the 3 stories and I have drawn them all !! 
Why three different writers? 
The reason of working with 3 different writers is that I wanted a variety in storytelling and it has worked amazingly, all of them have their own forte and their own unique ability to tell a story !! 
The final but no less important player in this series is my pencilling assistant Ankur Amre whom i discovered 5 months back, his internship in my office is nearly completing and now he is working very closely with me. He has played a pivotal role in the backgrounds of the GN.
You have said that you wanted to do this in Black and white. Why avoid colors?
Click for full size

 I really want to explore black n white medium of story telling, I believe that a good readble comic does not needs colour dependency (no offence to all my colourist brothers and sisters.), colouring always enhances your drawing but every comic does not need it…especially horror and crime !! I have experimented a lot in the art with this GN and let me tell you that if you handle your pencil carefully with the right amount of pressure, the result just comes out amazing . I got a tremendous opportunity to play with solid blacks and whites and i just loved each moment of it.

Before we end this interview , anything that you would want to tell us about the project?
 To wrap up, I can just tell that all 3 stories are connected in some way and will definately relate to your personal fears !!! i guarentee you that !! Wanna find out more, go buy the book, its out in May 2011……and oh !! yes…we have the same publisher for ravanayan and were house .

Ravanayan Creators on Comicon India

27 Feb
Vivek Goel and Vijayendra Mohanty





Vijayendra Mohanty and Vivek Goel, the brains behind the upcoming Ravanayan series share with us their first hand perspective on Comicon India:



What’s your take on the first comicon


VG: First of all, we actually did not planned to visit comic con, 3 weeks before the event i recieved an invitation frm Jatin Verma for Ravanayan, myself and Mohanty asking us to conduct a workshop. We spoke bout our presence in it and then decided to be a part of it as this would have been the biggest exposure for Ravanayan to all the comic fans in India under a single roof !! I then decided to make 2 exclusive posters of Ravanayan just for the comic con.

 It was truly an amazing experience for us being an insider of the industry and to actually participate in the convention. Though very small as compared to the san diago comic con etc. but no less than in spirit !!! You should have seen the cosplays and that too mostly among adults proving beautifully that comics are no longer just for kids 🙂 



VM: As Vivek says, I think that the Comic Con was a great success. It got looking in the general direction of the community and it made something of a splash in the media.



As one of my friends pointed out, perhaps, in the years to come, the Con will attract a more dedicated adult audience. As it is, the people most enthusiastic about the event were people our age — the ones who grew up reading comics and battling misconceptions.



What did you do at Comicon?

VM: The one thing that we did most at the ComicCon was have fun. The convention was something of an oddity for me (and I suppose many others). The comic book fandom in India is not organised, except when the organisation in question is an online mailing list or a close-knit community of like-minded friends. So a space and an event dedicated especially to the comic book cause was a most welcome change. Our official purpose for being at the convention was to promote Ravanayan, our upcoming comic series, and that purpose was served beautifully.

VG: We did a workshop on ravanayan (i did a lecture on cover making) on the 1st day and did a signing session on the 2nd day where amazingly my friend and ravanayan colourist Yogesh was also present. I donned a horned headgear and a fake moustache to come into the charecter..Hope people enjoyed that.

 



What’s ahead for the Ravanayan Team?

VG: Strategy for ravanayan remains the same as i told u in the last interview, just the 1st issue will now come in double size in May 😉 
Publisher is very much finalised but this is still not the time to reveal it. March would be it.

Mark my words man, the next comic con would be huge !! The success of this event has paved the way for a much bigger event frm next year onwards. This was more like an experiment for all of us (publishers and artists) that is precisely why  most of the artist community just came as spectators. People will have a clearer idea what to do and expect from next time onwards.

You will not find us doing any workshop frm now on, as we will be inside a booth 😉

The time of just knowing the character and its comic books is gone, with events like these now titles will be known by their creators as these events give people like us to get connected to the random reader directly and vice versa.

For the 1st time in my life i had so many things to do and so many people to meet and 8 hours seemed too short. It felt like a 2nd home to me (its just the toilet was too far away..lolz)