Do you remember the last time we covered an Indian based Comics initiative at Comicology? Well if you had been following Comicology regularly, that was back at the end of 2007, the time until which Bangalore based Gotham Comics were releasing their Virgin Branded Comics in India.
Like their in-numerous attempts earlier, they went into hibernation ever since, and we were reduced to be reliant on the remaindered stock from European, Franco-Belgian, and American genre all the while.
The wait is no more, as we have a new player in the Comics/Graphic Novels biz in India, Vimanika Comics, which has made their foray with their two pilot series, The Sixth and Moksha.
Vimanika Comics is the brainchild of its Mumbai based, entrepreneur, Karan Vir Arora. Karan explains that he always had dreamt and visualized these concepts right from his childhood, which was instrumental in him digging down the mythological aspects to form his launch-pad characters.
No wonder, why he has named his comic brand as Vimanika, as that’s the name of an early 20th century Sanskrit text, called Vimanika Shastra, talking about the construction of mythical ‘chariots of gods’.
Karan adds, “The objective of Vimanika, is to simultaneously impart knowledge as well as entertain the readers with exciting graphics and visual play, while understanding our roots with the mythology.”
Assisting Karan on his mission, is a team of 20 members, who have been bolstered by the joining of Dheeraj Verma (billed as the first-ever Indian artist credited by Marvel), as one of the partners of Vimanika. Dheeraj is one of the famous artists from India, who is known for his work with Indian based Raj Comics, who rose to some fame when he worked for a US comics publishing company, for a short period.
As in the tradition of the new generation comics, the team has come up with Issue #0, which is a double-intro issue of both The Sixth, and Moksha. Arnab Das takes care of the script-writing, while the artwork is at the hands of Deepak Sharma, Dheeraj Verma, and Sheetal.
The Sixth, starts its roots from the Indian epic Mahabharata, where the scene takes us to the time when Karna was killed in battlefield, where we get to visualize is mindset as he nears his end.
The scene then moves onto focus on NRI Karan Vir (I believe, Karan couldn’t stop himself from his childhood dreams of naming a comic character on him) who runs a business conglomerate in America.
The story follows his exploits to understand its roots, while he moves to his roots in India, following his mind-trail.
Moksha, has a different setting altogether, which is conceptualized in a unexplored time-space between two famous Indian epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata.
It’s a double-hero storyline, following two most powerful Indian mythical legends Parashurama and Hanuman, picking up from where their stories are left untold, and re-imagining it with some fiction. Dheeraj has personally taken the ownership of re-shaping the plot-work and characterization of Moksha.
Look at the breathtaking artwork exhibited in the Issue 1 of the series. The plot-work follows the storyline, as it is told either by the protagonist or the narrator.
|Sample Artwork from “The Sixth” ||Sample Artwork from “Moksha” |
Thus we get a chance to peek-in to the minds of the character which gives us a first-hand account of the action as it happens. The plot is aptly assisted by the Artists, who breath life to the concept with the exhibition of art, colour and inking, not seen so far in Indian Authentic Comics. (It was once promised by erstwhile Virgin Comics, before it was reduced to a state of oblivion).
At Comicology, we always try to have a balance in our review, so as to not be biased towards a certain publisher. To live up to that promise, I can’t help, but mention about the few glitches I noticed in the first instalments of Vimanika:
- Some panels of the art, look and appear pretty flat, which let’s down the incredible work on other panels. I expect these to be strengthened as renowned artist Dheeraj has assumed the lead role now.
- There are few grammatical errors in the sentences, which catch your eyes as you flip through the pages. Something which should have been avoided, when you are targeting an International audience.
- We can’t ignore the fact that there is a little over-use of religion in some of the panels. While, I agree that while digging through the Indian mythology, we are bound to side with the early beliefs, but shouldn’t they be made in a way which could be shared among a common base, which are toed together by a unique and far greater interest towards Comics? I hope, that as we progress further through the series, this would be subdued to make it more generic with the present world, while retaining the essence of the original plot.
With that said, I must also credit the team of Karan and Dheeraj for their effort to breath new life to Indian Comics; where the other players safely distance themselves from the risk associated with original creative work, by utilising the borrowed content from already established Western players and brands.
The pricing is also attractive (INR 40), as a same quality edition from an International publisher is normally priced over INR 100. That’s the advantage of housing your publication in the country, where your targeted audience is.
The Issue #1 is currently on stands (Landmark, Crossword, etc.), and if you want to get a head-start you can always browse through the digital version of #0 available on Vimanika.com. The subscribers do get a hard-copy of this issue, by means of which I obtained mine. Grab them if you want to witness the revolution in Indian Comics industry.
Look at the “who-is-who” of show-biz who attended the launch party of Vimanika. Karan Vir does know some big shots :).
Vimanika is no stranger to the hurdles faced by other other Comics initiatives, as they have so far launched only 2 sets (which includes the Intro series #0). Their original plan was to make Vimanika’s series as a bi-monthly edition, but Karan explains that they were holding on their releases for that to be available across stands in India and other foreign locations at the same time, by bolstering their distribution network. They appear to have achieved that feet, as their Issue #2, is slated to be released in India, US, and Europe, simultaneously.
On a final call, unlike any of its predecessors, Vimanika Comics can safely be terms as the only Comics brand which can call themselves as the “First Indian International”. I am aware that, this statement might create ripples among die-hard Comicologists. But save those emotions, as I have a strong case to prove the point.
There is no doubt that Diamond, ACK, and Raj Comics, were the forerunners of Indian based Comic characters, but did they ever make a serious attempt to go global? Let’s look at their contributions:
- Amar Chitra Katha (ACK), the whistle-blower inspired by Anant Pai, has now been reduced to reprints/republishing of their erstwhile stable.
- Diamond Comics, even after boasting a superior distribution network, never really came out of the Pran Era, and still continue to target the young kids market.
- Raj Comics, did introduce a stable of Indian Superheroes, and continue to publish their adventures. But their long-time focus of catering to a single-language audience, and not so-creditable plot-work, have always restricted them from penetrating beyond their local base.
- Virgin Comics, though the first to have really made an attempt to go international with some Indian origin, were actually controlled by Foreign authors and Creative team. Which took the sheen out of their so called Original Indian concept.
Then on, they went out of their initial focus, and tried to imitate Marvel and DC line of characters. The the result of which is there to see, with their present status.
(For the starters, Virgin Comics management has now changed hands from Virgin, to its Indian visionaries, under the new brand as Liquid Comics, and their current focus seems to be holding-on with the movie rights of Sadhu and Ramayana, which was in pipelines earlier).
That brings us to the end of this post, and as a gift for those who read through this lengthy review, here is the Preview of what’s in store for you in the Issue 2 set of Vimanika, which is slated for 2009 release. Good times are ahead us.
That brings us to the end of this post, and as a gift for those who read through this lengthy review, here is the Preview of what’s in store for you in the Issue 2 set of Vimanika, which is slated for Jan’09 release. Thanks to Karan for providing the inputs for the synopsis exclusively to Comicology, and I am eagerly looking forward for receiving my subscription copies.
That’s not all, Karan also adds that he is working on a special double sized issue on The Legend of the Karna, from the epic Mahabharata, scheduled for the new year. And for those prying eyes which has noticed Dashavatar in the Launch pic, that’s their next major series in pipeline. Indian Comic fans are in for a big treat, to say at least.
So, am I not right to call Vimanika with the anecdote of “First Indian International” ? Well, It’s for me to presume, and yours to debate; for which I would be eager to read your views, along with your thoughts about this post on the new player in Comics World.