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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.

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
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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
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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
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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
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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!!!
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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…

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!!!

Nish’s Notepad: Werehouse #1

24 May

After 5 days of fever, I finally managed to attend the Delhi launch of Werehouse Vol.1, organized by the Comic Addicts team itself! an hour late though. I missed the fun they had, but grabbed my copy, which is Holy Cow‘s debut title. So, here I go!
Werehouse has 3 were stories at the price of 1, so you get 3 reviews for the price of one too.. 😀

1. Gaurdian Demon

Script: Akshay Dhar
Art: Vivek Goel
Colors: Yogesh Ravindra Pugaonkar
Letters: Komal Surale


Guardian Demon is the first story in the first volume of Werehouse. The beast here is a guardian, a savior, an not an enemy. The family of the protagonist dies in an attack, leaving him behind. Alone, he wanders in the home of dangerous beasts and realizes it when an animal attacks him. Luckily, another beast defends him, but that is no ordinary beast, its a WERE-BEAST, half snow leopard and half warrior.

She teaches him the skills of a warrior, and then comes the time for the test.. This is my favorite part, thanks to Akshay for adding the mythological twist. The protagonist gets the power of Shakti-Ma and becomes a Were-Leopard himself. The rest is for you to figure out 😉
Now to my views, Gaurdian Demon is a complicated story, with a nice blend of drama and mythology in it. The art, do I even have to say that it’s awesome? Everyone knows Vivek Goel has no match. The only thing I wanted more in this one was a nice end. There was an abrupt end- which was overshadowed by the amazing story. Nevertheless, GD is a must read, an awesome story blended with awesome art.

2.Mousetrap

Script: Soumya Das
Art: Vivek Goel
Colors: Yogesh Ravindra Pugaonkar
Letters: Komal Surale

Mousetrap is rather scary and a little more violent. The beginning is a little kiddish, where a newly hired maid is EATEN UP!

Nevertheless, the art in this part of the book is the best. The protagonist here, goes to the doctor and complains she has hallucinations, about a Were-Rat! The doctor fears that the protagonist’s husband has something fishy in him, goes to inspect him. On reaching the home and his room, the shock comes. Here ends the kiddish story, and it becomes rather SPOOKY..
The end here is fantastic, but I didn’t like the beginning much. The story is an easy one, but at the same time, full of suspense. I’d not rate it above GD, nor below. Both are awesome, BUT both have flaws- the end, and the beginning respectively.

3. It’s a Dog’s Death

Script: Shweta Taneja
Art: Vivek Goel
Colors: Yogesh Ravindra Pugaonkar
Letters: Komal Surale

The third and the final story, written by Shweta Taneja, who is I think also working on the next-to-next upcoming title by Holy Cow, The Skull Rosary is again complicated. This story is future based, and the first page of the story tells the story of several hundred years in one go. Robots (namely Biobombers) control the Earth. To survive, humans inject themselves with the blood of Dhole’s. So, there’s not one or two were-dogs but a whole gang of them (or should I say, a pack of them).
There is an unusual timer starting from the first panel, the logic behind which, I didn’t get till the end of the story.

So, in the beginning of the story, the hungry protagonist runs into a human girl, but crushes his feelings of eating her because she reminds him of his old days (and think she’s cute 😛 AWWWWWW). So, to save her from the biobombers, he takes her to his caves, where other Were-Dhole’s live and battle with ’em to to save her. Unfortunately, he’s too weak to battle all of them and in the second last page, other get hold of him and are about to eat the girl WHEN.. your time to read now 😉
To begin with my views, both the beginning and the last page of this story were amazing, but what was between them not so good. It’s a Dog’s Death is as complicated as Guardian Demon, but it lost its track in the middle, which I didn’t like. Nevertheless, super beginning and end brought it equal to the former ones.

Overall, Werehouse has increased the hopes for Ravanayan, by turning out to be too good. Best of luck for it, and I hope that it turns out to be even a greater hit with its first double sized issue coming this July.

ART: 5/5
STORY: 4/5
QUALITY: 4/5
OVERALL: 4.3/5

Stay tuned as we’ll have another take at Werehouse by Rajat :D.
P.S. For the next week, I feel like itching. Itching what I can’t. 😉

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 .