Well, it feels just like yesterday, when I sat down and thought about giving some form to my long standing ambition to start an exclusive website devoted to one of my long cherished passion over Comics. What came out of that thought, was the blog which has come to be known as Comicology.
And what we have here, is the Second Anniversary of our Blog. Time does run fast, isn’t it? I will save you of my blabbering for the end of the post, but before that, just like our 1st Year Anniversary post, let’s look into some of the most happening news around Indian Comicosphere, to mark the occasion.
On the Indian Comics front, the past year was one of the best in terms of more players joining the Comics field, meaning to its true essence. Ever since Virgin Comics closed shops in 2007, which previewed a whole new face of Indian Comics, there was a dearth of fresh air in the Indian Comics space. Finally, the call seems to have been answered by a host of new start-ups, which are vying to fill up the void left by Virgin/Gotham.
Let’s look into some of those who were recently in the news for their newer endeavours. The list includes only those brands who are still in active publishing, thus steering past the forerunners Indrajal Comics (which had its run from 1964 to 1990, amassing 803 titles in total), Amar Chitra Katha (started in 1967 and running till 1991, amassing 436 titles, and since have been reduced to just reprints. Read more about ACK, here), and the recent casualty Gotham Comics (which never made a long run, through its entire start and stop publishing. Read about their last set release, here).
Diamond Comics: From a publishing house which has it roots earlier to the Indian Independence (which dates back to 1907), Diamond Comics, which was started in 1978, remains the most sold comics brand in India, which continues even today. Despite being the forerunner of Comics biz in India, comics fans were always apprehensive about their restrictions into evolving the comics beyond the Chacha Chowdhary, Pinky faces (most commonly referred to as Pran Era), to move to an evolved Graphic Novel format. But, Diamond Comics continues to remain on the same foothold, where they feel themselves more comfortable at.
The only good news heard from them recently, was their foray into bringing Walt Disney back to India, under their sister brand “Junior Diamond”. Read more about it over here. But for the sheer fact of being one of the forerunner of Indian Comics, much more is expected out of them.
Raj Comics: The only other brand which could rate up to Diamond to claim their share of the longest in the business; is the 1984 starter Raj Comics. They truly deserve every bit of the accolades, which is reflected by their slogan ‘The Home of Indian Superhero Comics’.
Raj Comics picked up the area which was mostly untouched by Diamond, to base their storylines on in-house created Superheroes, most famous of them being the Raj Comics trio of Nagraj, Doga, and Dhruva.
The superior artwork went hand in hand with the wonderfully written plot, to make their series one of the most recognised ones, very close to the fame enjoyed by DC/Marvel characters in India. Till date, their line-up consists of an amazing 3500+ titles.
The only complaints over Raj Comics, was their ever standing image of being a regional language player (For starters, Raj Comics is predominantly published in Hindi), which long deprived them of the international recognition, which they thoroughly deserve for their splendid work on the Indian Comics front.
Incidentally, there was a recent announcement from the publishers, on them reaching out to more languages (which I presume should include English too) with their brand, which should put them right on with the elite in the business. I am staying hopeful. For details, refer www.rajcomics.com
Vimanika Comics: The only comics company which can claim to have picked up from where Virgin left-off. A brain child of Mumbai based Karan Vir, which was started with much fanfare in 2008. They have two series, in their line-up, namely The Sixth and Moksha, which have so far been released in 3 issues each (including the #0).
The artwork is clearly of the highest standards, you can find at present in India. The plot-work is mostly based on the Indian Mythology, with a retake on some of the forgotten heroes from the myth. (Read more about it, here)
In 2009, Vimanika Comics have planned to release their first two Graphic Novels, in the forms of The Legends of Karna (which talks about the life and times of Karna from the Mahabharata epic), and Dashaavatar (which talks about the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, as per Hindu Mythology).
The two will become the first volumes, of a series which would run for a couple of years, as per Karan.
Here is a preview of both of those Graphic Novels, which is sure to draw attention towards those incredibly drawn and colored panels. I am eagerly looking forward for them to hit the stands. For details, refer www.vimanika.com
Campfire: Another new start-up from the publishers Kalyani Navyug Media, based out in New Delhi. Their initial concentration is totally different from the original Virgin or new-gen Vimanika, as they decided to license out the famous classic novels known to one and all, and present them in a whole new package.
In late 2008, they came up with a host of these classic titles, decorated with new artwork from a number of Indian artists. Not much I could say about the venture, as I am yet to buy them, which I would do shortly, for a review at Comicology.
As far as I have previewed the series, even though the artworks were of varied quality, and some were real breath-taking, the sheer focus on recreating the olden classics, which were read and experienced by majority of the readers bunch, is a little let-down, as it doesn’t allow you to enjoy the title to the fullest, let alone the interest of experiencing something new.
Their company website, says that they are also in the process of creating some Original titles, along with comics based on Mythology. So, I will reserve my verdict, after experiencing their titles. As per the sales, goes I still see much of Campfire titles available on shops, which were released way back in 2008. They must think about more aggressive marketing strategies, if they want to make themselves know among the masses. For details, refer www.campfire.co.in
Arkin Comics: Is an aspiring comics company, started by Rohan Kapadia, based out in Pune. Their primary objective is to create custom comics, and also venture on 3-D comics, which they tout as the first ever in India.
Their current concentration is on releasing a line-up of comics consisting of a new superhero team, by the name of IRITH, which they pronounce as India’s First Anti-Terrorist Superhero Task Force. A huge difference from their other contemporaries, who all seem to be relying their titles on Indian mythology.
We had previewed their planned series during our V-Day post here, where the creators behind the series had expressed their concept on the direction of their dream venture. Refer to the interesting discussion on Comments section at the end of the post.
Their first issue is due in the mid of August, so do look forward for them at your local newsstands. For details, refer www.arkincomics.com
M4 Comics: Another aspiring comics company, from the recently started M4 Media, based out in New Delhi. Dheeraj Verma, co-founder of M4 Media, and former veteran artist of Raj Comics, who recently also had a stint with Vimanika, has said that they are working on a new series, titled as One, which will be a take-down again from the Mahabharata epic.
Seems that the epic Mahabharata, is the hot property among all the new comic start-ups in India at present.
Apart from the Comics, they are also planning for a host of magazines targeted at Kids and Young adults.
Not much, I could say about them, as their plans are still on an early stage, and much depends on how their final products turns-out. For details, refer www.m4media.in
Fluid Comics: Well, as it turned out, the wealth in offer with Mahabharata epic, or Indian mythology as a whole, is not only restricted to aspiring Indian start-ups. Fluid Friction Comics, who are based out in Hong Kong, and specialises in the Manhua (which is the Chinese art version, of Japanese Manga), have come up with a new title Devashard, which also is a take-down from the characters represented in Mahabharata.
They have so far released two titles, in Hong Kong and Internationally. Out of which, the first edition was distributed for sale in India through IDB. It was priced around INR 195, which was way over cost, for a brand new comic in Indian market.
As expected, their sales weren’t as promising, and the second issue of Devashard, is yet to make it to India, which I doubt it will never be.
I had picked up the first title (which was available in late 2008), which featured a new cover from their international version, to mark their Indian entry and make it more aligned to the Indian readers (The Sun god centric cover-art).
To say frankly, I wasn’t impressed to a great extent, either in the artwork or the storyline. The only bright aspect of the series, was the depiction of Earth, which is termed as Bhumi, and was detailed into such minute reference and geographical distribution of lands and uninhabited places, which was an entirely different takedown from other comic series I have read based on Mahabharata.
May be a second issue in the series, with reasonable pricing would have given an opportunity to re-experience the series and take a final call. But with that looking improbable at the moment, the verdict is reserved on the series. We will see more about the series, during our review of the first title, which is been pending for long time at Comicology.
For details, refer www.fluid-comics.com, www.devashard.com, and their official blog devashard.blogspot.com (which has some inside details about the characters and the world of Devashard. Definitely, deserves a visit and read)
And that brings to the end of the Comics News exclusive to the Indian domain, covering all the happenings around the Indian Comics Industry. Now, for a little chit-chat on our occasion of celebrating the 2nd Year anniversary at the blog.
It has indeed been a long and fruitful journey so far for us at Comicology, especially to me. From a humble beginning when the blog was frequented only by a handful of friends, it has blossomed into a website which garners more than 200 hits a day on an average, from over 120 countries.
It speaks volume about the contribution of readers, who cherished reading about one of our unique passion towards Comics. From my side, I have always resolved to the determination, that I wouldn’t be using this blog either as a medium for making money, or to drift away to things unrelated to Comics or its sub-genre Animation.
On this sweetful journey, I also garnered a host of friends, which I believe was the biggest achievement of this whole initiative. The journey also brought some bitter pills to swallow, but they only helped me to grow more determined, and focus on evolving the content offering, day-in an day-out. In return for all those true love and support, you can take my words that we are here to stay and together will enjoy the richness in offer out of the “The 9th Art”, for years to come.
And just before I close, I often come face to face to few of the nears, who keep asking me the same question –“Do you feel your time is well spent on this childhood passion?”. Well it’s hard to explain to them on your likes and dislikes, but I simply want to leave them with some of the famous words uttered by T.S.Elliot:
“Time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time”
Wish you a Happy Friendship day, my friends, aka fellow Comikers. Have Fun and nJoY