Comic Con Express – Bengaluru - 2012

Another year and another Express Event from Comic Con India. Our Pre-show coverage of the event in the Garden City.

Comic Con India – New Delhi - 2011

Get to know, more about India's first ever Comic-Con, how does it rate among the rest.

Chennai Book Fair - 2011

We catch up with the Annual Chennai Book Fair, and see what it has to offer for Comic fans.

Lion Comics Jumbo Special - XIII Collector's Edition

An inside look into a collection, touted as the biggest Comic Book released in India

Dec 31, 2008

News - Next-Gen Epic | Times of India | Dec '08

TOI - 90190
Epic Tales with a New Spin
TOI - 28 Dec 08

Times of India carried a news article this week, on the resurgence of the New Super Heroes from the Indian Mythology, Ramayana and Mahabharata.  In fact this seems to be the new trend which has been adopted in Indian comics or animation media.

First it was erstwhile Virgin Comics, which pioneered this concept by introducing a variety of comics titles, one of which was Ramayana 3392 AD, which finds a mention in this article, albeit under their new name Liquid Comics (as explained in my previous post on Vimanika on the management buyout).

I really liked the artwork which was exhibited in the new Ramayana series (look at the Hanuman art in the article, incredible), which was supposed to debut in India, after their successful launch in US.  But, I was told that the Virgin Comics decided to hold their plans, as they were worried about generating probable ire from the large Hindu population in India, some of whom found these modern creations offended, and devalued their cherished mythos and beliefs, for commercial purposes.  It’s a debate Comicology don’t want to get into, for the sheer respect shared towards all religions followed in India.

There was even an animation movie recently on Junior Hanuman, the success of which prompted the producers to plan a sequel as Hanuman Returns.  Recently, Chandamama also came up with an exclusive Ramayana Graphic Novel, which also finds a mention in this article.

Overall, even though I liked these new and welcome attempts to generate mass media attention towards the Indian Genre of Comics, probably trying to imitate the Japanese Manga revolution in India, I still feel that the olden comics classics of Mahabharata and Ramayana from Amar Chitra Katha (ACK), continue to remain my personal favourite.

Dec 25, 2008

Vimanika Comics - The Sixth | Moksha | #0-1 | 2008

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. 

The Sixth: #0Like 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’.

Moksha: #0

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: #1The 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. 

Moksha: #1As it is portrayed, he is the re-incarnation of Karna in the modern world, who is haunted by the images of Karna and his life-traverse, in his dreams.

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 “The Sixth”
Sample Artwork from “Moksha”
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  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’s Launch in Mumbai 
In Pic: RanVijay (VJ), Darsheel Safary (Actor), Milind Soman (Model/Actor), and Karan Vir

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.

The Sixth #02: Friend or Foe - Teaser
Sixth 02 Teaser 

Follows the exploits of KV as he goes back in the memory lane during his trip to India. Does this lead to him to discover his own self or did he bargain for more than what he could asked for?

Moksha #02: The Forsaken Returns - Teaser
Moksha 02 Teaser

The Forsaken prince from the Hell returns to stake his claim and does he has anything to do with the evil wrapping around the two legends Parashurama and Hanuman?

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.

Book Facts
Vimanika Edutainment | Price: INR 40 | Pages: 32 | Color | Size: B5 | Laminated/SoftCover

Dec 10, 2008

CineBook - Largo Winch #1 | IR$ #1 | 2008

West Land | Price: INR 350 | Two-Volume Books | Color | Pages: 48+48 | Size: B5 | Laminated/HardCover

I am back with another set of CineBook reviews, which were part of the back-issues set distributed by Westland this year in India.  The topic of discussion for this post, is about the two new series, which were never published so far in India.

First up the order, is Largo Winch, which is a Belgian Comic series created by the legendary comic creator Jean Van Hamme, who is credited with works like Thorgal and XIII (a series slated to be the Lion Comics Jumbo Special).  As usual, let's look at the background of the creators before we zoom in to this series.

Largo Winch 1: The Heir
ISBN: 978-1-905460-48-9
Largo Winch 01 c1
Largo Winch 1: The W Group (Vol.2)
Published: Mar 2008
Largo Winch 01 ic

Just like his works, Jean Van Hamme (Born 1939 in Brussels), need no introduction, as he is often remarked as the Master of Comics Field.  But, can you believe that Hamme wasn't destined to be in this profession initially?  His initial career was on the Marketing field, but had the interest to write few comic stories in between starting from 1968.  As with other Brussels school writer/artists, Van Hamme eventually joined TinTin magazine in 1970, and started writing regular series.  Slowly he found his real interest in the comics biz, and left his marketing career to concentrate full time on comics writing in 1976.

LargoWinchThe Creation of Thorgal in 1977, was Van Hamme's first super hit.   In 1984, Van Hamme scored another big hit with his XIII series.  The South Indian Comic fans don't need any introduction for this series, which garnered huge attention towards the all work of Hamme.  But what many don't know is that the Largo Winch character was thought by Van Hamme even before his first hit series, Thorgal.

As early as in the late 1970's, Hamme started creating a series of novels with the lead character named as Largo Winch.  But the abysmal sales and his other prominent work on Thorgal and XIII, pushed this to back-burner.

BJean Van Hamme & Philippe Francq ut, when Hamme, met Belgian artist Philippe Francq in 1988, Largo Winch was re-born in Graphic Novel format, and first series debuted on 1990, through publisher Dupius.

The series was about a young carefree guy, who suddenly inherits amazing fortunes through a long lost relation, and his subsequent fight to reclaim the empire left behind, in the process battling through all forms of defiance.

Phillippe Francq's earlier stint at Hergé Studios, where he had a chance to collaborate with the likes of Bob De Groot (Clifton) and Bob De Moor, gave him an uncanny style of artwork, in expressing the moods and feelings with vibrant colors in an unique artistic style (See an example in the panel below, where the breathtaking scenario is expressed in a way in which the main character's importance is not spoilt).  These qualities coupled wtih Van Hamme's own intriguing plots, helped Largo Winch, become a huge success, paving way for a "Hat-Trick of Super Hits" from Hamme's stable.

Largo Winch Sample Artwork The success of series has made Francq concentrate solely on this venture, and currently the duo are on a release rate of one album per year.  So far, 16 albums have been released as of date.  It is said that the initial sales per album in French alone were around 600,000 copies each.  With CineBook's English translations they are only going to be made more famous.

As in the case of CineBook releases, this is also a two-volume edition, and perfectly fits the bill on this occasion.  Because Largo Winch stories are told over two volumes each, where the first one being the one putting Largo in an impossible situation, and the second one letting him get out of it. In addition, both volumes share the same background colour on the cover (as pointed out in Dr.Satish's blog too).  Isn't this a cool new idea to be utilised in the Graphic Novel Biz ?  Hope other comic players take note of it.

The two volumes in CineBook's first Largo Winch edition are:

1. The Heir (Originally published in French as "L'Héritier", in Nov 1990)

2. The W Group (Originally published in French as "Le Groupe W", in Sep 1991)

The plot starts with an introduction of Nerio Winch, chief patron of the business empire W Group, in his last days.  He wants to find a successor, and knowing that he has a secret adopted son, he is brutally killed by his own allies.

Largo Winch 1: BackCover Now, the focus shifts on Largo Winczlav, who suddenly is identified as the successor. A mad hunt is on with assassins trying to kill him, and the plot unravels at the second volume, where he goes through betrayal, treachery, with a final showdown set in an uninhabited island.  Francq's artwork does all the talking, and Hamme introduces preludes and twists in the plot as and when necessary.  Overall, a comics extravaganza, which you should not miss from grabbing.

Cinebook's tradition of editing the sexual interludes, for its targeted audience of English speaking countries, is shown in this release too.  There are some forums, where the angry purists are against this effort, as they believe it as tampering with the originality of the series.  Well, different people, different perceptions.  It should be said that the editing, does blend well with our culture, so there are no qualms.

Cinebook have also released the second album of Largo Winch in UK, titled TakeOver Bid, which encompasses the original albums 3 and 4, in one book.  Blue is the theme for the covers this time around.  I was told that they would be available in India with the next batch of CineBook early next year.

Lover of Dreams Shankar had pointed out in his post about a Largo Winch movie in production in French language. I am eager to hear his review comments, once he watches the new venture. Hopefully, the movie franchise will live up to the expectation set by the Graphic Novels.

The next new series from CineBook is from an relatively unknown Franco-Belgian duo of Stephen Desberg (scenario) and Bernard Vrancken (artist).  The series is titled "I.R.$", which refers to the all powerful tax collection office of United States, the Internal Revenue Service (an actual organisation in US).  The federal law states that the agency is empowered to collect taxes, and enforce the revenue laws within US.  Taking a tab out of this little known agency to the outer world, Desberg and Vrancken thought about a character, who would do a federal agent kind of a role, with the key emphasize being on the Taxing irregularities.  It's a whole new setting which let's the creative duo to break new ground on the Graphic Novels.

Stephen Desberg, born 1954 in Belgium, initially worked for TinTin and Spirou magazines assisting in their script-work.  While at Spirou, he got a chance to work with the legendary creator Maurice Tillieux, who is the author of Gil Jourdan, a Belgian Detective Comic series, considered as an Masterpiece of European genre.  Tillieux also has done some uncredited work on Yoko Tsuno (a series covered in Comicology earlier).

I.R.$. 1: Taxing Trails
ISBN: 978-1-905460-51-9
IR$ 01 c1
I.R.$. 1: The Hagen Strategy (Vol.2)
InnerCover | Published: Apr 2008
IR$ 01 InnerCover

Working with Tilleux gave Desberg, his first experience of managing a character plot, and he soon went on to create many series of his own, finally bumping with Bernard Vrancken (Born 1965 in Belgium) in 1996.  Initially they worked together for some short stories, before they started the political-financial thriller series 'I.R.$.' in 1999. The series centres around Larry B. Max, a fictional IRS secret agent, who is considered to be a specialist on Taxing.  (Much like, our IT Officers portrayed in Indian Movies, who are normally shown raiding the Big B's :))

As it is highlighted in the character biography, "Reading Tax-evasion and Money-launderings rings like a virtuoso pianist would read a sheet of Mozart".  Larry Max, Armed with a License to Kill and Thrill, like James Bond; Desberg and Vrancken take us to different themes of irregularities surrounding the Big Shots, through the adventures ranging all over the world.

In this CineBook release, we have two inter-connected volumes:

I.R.$. 1: BackCover 1. Taxing Trails (Originally published in French as "La Voie fiscale", in Feb 2000)

In this first album, Max must look into a particularly delicate file belonging to a rich Jewish-American, Moshe Geldhof, known for his involvement in recovering items that were confiscated by the Nazis. Dissecting this billionaire's accounts, Max embarks on a dangerous journey to find the mysterious origins of the man's immense fortune.

2. The Hagen Strategy (Originally published in French as "La Stratégie Hagen", in Mar 2000)

In this second album, Max continues to explore the billionaire's origin by visiting the Swiss Banks, to unravel the mystery behind the assassination of the former employee of the Union of Banks.

In German mythology, Hagen embodies the traitor. One who infiltrates the ranks of his enemies to destroy them better.  This idea has been incorporated very well in these two albums, as Max unravels the mystery and the black secrets behind the Nazi war and its cold after-effects.

IR$ Sample Artwork On final call, I would rate this attempt by Desberg and Vrancken as fresh and new.  But it fails on some account, as the plot seems to be dragged in certain sections.  A silent and moot agent, who has some secret mobile conversation with a call-girl to open up his mind, as portrayed by Max, may not get that well with a larger audience, who expect the lead character to be more dynamic in nature. 

Eventhough, Vrancken tried his artistic hand to show Max in better light with acrobatic skills in action sequences, and romantic interludes with the leading ladies (in line with CineBook's Sexual edit policy), it need to be admitted that the art style he followed doesn't boast well to the already suffering series with a dry subject of taxing.

Nevertheless, the authors have continued to publish this series so far, with the latest original French album #10 getting released in Mar 2008.  A clear sign that there is a fan following for this relatively unknown series.  Look at the covers of the remaining issues, released by Le Lombard.

On their part, CineBook have planned to release their next two-volume edition of IR$, in Jan 2009, which will combine the original volumes 3 & 4.

irs3 irs4 irs5 irs6
irs7 irs8 irs9 irs10

Hopefully, they will be better than the first two albums, to put some spice to the series.

With tax bells ringing over head, as we approach the financial year end, this might be a good series for you to get acclaimed on (no pun intended).  If you want to experience a different plot-work from the regular cop-catch-convict issues, grab the copy at your nearest store, before it runs out of stock.

Whatever be the case of the artist, the scenarist Stephen Desberg is going great guns with his another adventure "The Scorpion", an historic-adventure series, filled with incredible artwork of Marini.  CineBook have started releasing this series also in UK with English translations, and I am looking forward for their debut in India.

Dec 6, 2008

News - Bone | Bangalore Mirror | Nov '08

Bone Media Coverage
Image Courtesy: Scanned by Pathy
Forwarded by Viswa

We ran a full post review on the Bone Series on Comicology, when it debuted in India.  Well, we now have a Media article about the series and the creator Jeff Smith,  who was on a comic book promotion tour in India, last month.

Bangalore Mirror newspaper carried a personal account of Jeff Smith on his work on Bone, which has made him a top-shot in the Graphic Novel Biz.  The article also talks about the new venture of Jeff Smith, about which you can find in our earlier post.  Read the Article, where Jeff talks about his child hood passion and how he formed the idea of Bone.

For those who wonder, why Jeff Smith loves India so much, it's got to do with his wife Vijaya Smith (formerly Vijaya Iyer), whose ancestors are from Kerala, another Southern State of India.  Through which he has close knitted family connections in India, including Mumbai.  Jeff claims the Indian connection was instrumental in the concluding plot works on the final two chapters of Bone series.  I would love to see those final chapters reprinted by Scholastic in India.

Jeff never forgets to thank Vijaya, who is also his business partner, and takes care much of the production and administration work; like attending comic-con events, invoicing, publishing contacts; right from their self-publishing company Cartoon Books (which originally serialized Bone as 55 issues, consisting one chapter each).  This has let Smith concentrate solely on his comic work, which has what made him world-famous now.

Doesn't it feel good to have a life partner who share your hobbies, and interests? Heah, I can hear some "Grins" from the wed-locked Comicologists here :).

Here is an excerpt from Jeff's another Interview while in India on his promotion tour:


You started off drawing Bone when you were five years old. How did it evolve to its present state? 
I was very young when I used to go to my grandmother’s house and watch movies and read. She used to give me this big sheet of paper on which I used to draw. The very first comic though was published in 1991. Each chapter was released as one comic book. It was black and white initially. Now the entire series is a beautiful 1,300 page continuous novel that I have released independently. I always had the start and end in mind, but when I started writing I went off on different tangents and just wrote the funniest things that came to my head.

Bone_JeffHow tough has the journey been?
The medium is very difficult as the readers are very picky. When I started off, I had the strangest idea that the comic should be like Bugs Bunny-meets-Lord of the Rings. It didn’t sell well initially, we literally had to carry boxes to big comic conventions like those in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. My wife and me were unaware that the comic was being picked up by libraries around the country and kids were reading it. Scholastic called us, and that’s when we realised that the comic appeals to children. 

How did you decide to take the “self-publishing” route initially?
I had no choice but to self-publish. I was turned down by every newspaper syndicate in the US. I realised if I wanted to draw Bone, I would have to publish it myself out of my garage. Now, of course, it’s published around the world by many big mainstream publishers in different countries. But I still own the comics themselves, the copyrights belong to me even though the Bone cousins can speak many languages that I cannot!

Bone Statue by Dark Horse Will graphic novels find their way into history as great literature?
The art is very new. Since its inception, graphic novels have always been found only in collector’s stores in the States, it’s only three years ago that they have found their way into bookstores. Now there are talented 25-year-olds who are exploring the art form. The future is bright, I think.

Is there an Indian connect in your series?
My wife, Vijaya, has always been there for me. I can always bounce ideas off her. The Indian connect comes in the last couple of books, where they have been modelled in India and Nepal. As for reading Indian authors, I just got a stack of them. I haven’t read much so I wouldn’t be able to comment.

Pity that Jeff Smith's arrival wasn't covered in any Chennai based papers (even though on a personal Bone Collection by a fan visit, and not part of his book tour), as he has spent quite a lot of time visiting the ancient Shore temples at Mahabalipuram, a tourist attraction in South India, located at Chennai.  Doesn't talk well about the Comics passion actually existing in the city.  You can read more about Jeff's India trip at his Official Website, here and here.  He looks a free-to-move persona with his Pani-Puri act. 

I am impressed with Jeff's creative work, since I read the Bone series for the first time.  Hopefully, we will be seeing his next venture, RASL, also getting published in India sooner.

Nov 30, 2008

News: Batman & Comic Break | Times of India | Nov '08

There are two interesting articles in Times of India related to our cherished hobby, over the weekend, which are grabbed at Comicology for your reading.

BatmanThe first article is from Times of India (TOI) - Chennai Times, 29 Nov 08 edition, which captures the readers uproar towards the authors' (Grant Morrison, in this case) decision to kill Batman in the recent issue, and his prodigy taking his place in the future series.  When will this creators get over the marketing gimmick for boosting sales; as they change, deface, and even eradicate the comics characters we have known for years.  First it was Sherlock Holmes, then Superman, and even Captain America.  Even the current set of authors at Marvel, went to a distance of erasing all the memory of "Spiderman" Peter Parker and Mary Jane's marriage altogether.  That has already put the next Spiderman Movie into a jeopardy.

All the times each one of them have been dramatically resurrected to life, after falling sales, and readers lull response.  And for all its trueness, this might be a same case again.  Imagine - you watching the next Batman Movie, when the character itself has become history in its original form. eeks!

For those who would like to have a sneak preview of Batman #681, which has the conclusion of Batman RIP series, described in this post as the "End of Batman", here are few panels from the issue. (© DC Comics)

Batman681-0 Batman681-1 Batman681-2

As you could clearly see that Batman's death is pretty inconclusive (paving the way for his return), and his prodigy Dick Grayson (or Nightwing in his superhero avatar) is shown taking over the Batman role at the end.

Here are some Official quotes about Batman's RIP storyline, which supports our theory, and a possible return of Batman solely in his Bruce Wayne avatar, and probably on a later stage as Batman Returns, while Dick Grayson or Tim Drake (the 3rd and current Robin) playing the role of Batman in future issues.  Much like the storyline of Superman Returns earlier.

Grant Morrison, Series Author: "This is the end of Bruce Wayne as Batman". 

Dan DiDio, DC Comics Executive Editor : "Bruce Wayne is indeed alive, though he'll definitely be gone for a while."

A unnamed DC Insider: "Wayne doesn't want to be a superhero any more."

Eventhough, I first thought that storyline sucks, it might give an option to see how the present authors actually take a different route in the Batman series, then trying to cash in on the legacy left by erstwhile, Bob Kane.

Take a Comic BreakThe second article is from TOI - Times Life, 30 Nov 08 edition.  It's a follow-up from our earlier article covered at Comicology about the growing interest in the younger generation in reading comics more than reading books, which is a new trend from the past where the kids more often preferred the Novels, and Written fantasies over the Comics medium.  The article advocates the need to take a break, with growing your Comic habit, and get the Boy inside a Man.

I would have given a miss to the second article, as it wasn't available for distribution in a few areas in Chennai.  Thanks for fellow Comicologist Pathy's tip-off, I was able to pick that up from the Bangalore edition of TOI.

Nov 28, 2008

CineBook - Blake & Mortimer #1-3 | 2008

West Land | Price: INR 250 | Color | Size: A4 | Laminated/HardCover

Finally, we have the much awaited review on the CineBook's Blake & Mortimer series here at Comicology, which was part of the batch of issues distributed in India by West Land, on July 2008.  It's another classic series from the Franco-Belgian comics era, a product of one of the famous European Comics visionary Edgar P. Jacobs.  It first appeared serialized in the Belgian comics magazine Tintin from 1946 (from the very first issue), and was subsequently published in book form by Lombard, due to its growing popularity.

It's story about two British men, Philip Mortimer, a Top Scientist; and Francis Blake, an Army officer, and follows their adventures through their science-fiction mixed detective investigations, even to an extent some historian legends, like the lost continent of Atlantis.  I wonder why the series wasn't named as Mortimer & Blake, as he is the main character in much of the adventures. Let's look at the background and earlier work of Edgar Jacobs, which formed a base for his famous Blake & Mortimer series, before we review the instalments from CineBook.

B&M 1: The Yellow "M"
ISBN: 978-1-905460-21-2

Black-Mortimer 01 Cover1
B&M 1: BackCover
Pages: 72 | Published: Jan 2007
Black-Mortimer 01 Cover2

Edgar P. Jacobs, was born in Brussels on March 30, 1904.  As per Jacobs he is known to have drawn from his early days of his childhood.  But, he actually made his entry in the arts through the Stage Dramas and Soap Opera's.  Despite spending much of his career on his first-choice, he never rose to a prominent role from filling up the extras.  So in 1940, he turned to his first-love full-time, by joining a magazine, and drawing for novels and tales.

The World War II gave Jacobs his first chance to draw for a famous comics script, in form of Flash Gordon, when the original American piece were banned by German forces in Belgium.  Eventhough, it lasted only for a couple of weeks, that gave him a base from which he could bring his inner urge to a proper shape, and he started working on his own take of Sci-Fi comic strip, Le Rayon U, heavily borrowing from the Flash Gordon script.

Edgar P. Jacobs

During the same time he was also working as a stage painter for Georges Prosper Remi's (known more famously for his creation TinTin under his ghost-name Hergé) TinTin adaptation into a play.  That paved the way for Remi to know about Jacob's works, and the two became good friends, which was instrumental in bringing Jacob's talents to a broader circle, when Remi hired him for recasting/restyling his earlier TinTin albums, like TinTin in the Cango, TinTin in America, etc.

Edgar Jacobs in TinTinEdgar P. Jacobs as Jacobini in
TinTin's Cigars of Pharaoh

The friendship between Remi and Jacobs grew so much, that Remi took the liberty to cast him under the fictional name of Jacobini in some of his TinTin albums, the famous being as a Mummified Egyptologist in Cigars of Pharaoh.

Due to his friendship with Remi, he was part of a team of writer and artists gathered together for a new TinTin magazine in 1946.

On his part, Jacobs wrote and drew his series Le secret de l’Espadon (The Secret of the Swordfish) for the first Tintin magazine, published on September 26, which was eventually the first series of Blake and Mortimer (B&M).

Because of its painstaking realism and plot-work, B&M was a worthy equivalent to the already established, Tintin series (which was created in 1926), from its start. But surprisingly, B&M proved more popular than the Tintin story that it accompanied and soon they were published as hardcover and softcover editions by publisher Lombard.

The success of the series, made Jacobs rethink his apprenticeship work with Hergé on his TinTin rework.  So, when Hergé declined his request to share the credit of TinTin publicly, Jacobs decided to concentrate full-time on B&M in 1947, and went on to produce eight big adventures until 1972, which all have become a classic collectors items. 

But the friendship between Hergé and Jacobs was not disturbed by this professional break-up, as they both shared respect to each others work and achievements.

Jacobs’ style and consistency, his plotting talent and his care in character-building vary greatly from one album to another.

Classic TinTin Magazine Cover with B&M
Ligne Claire as exhibited in
Ligne Claire
"Blake & Mortimer"
B&M 03

There are however many common threads between Hergé and Jacobs, such as the consistent use of Ligne claire (meaning Straight Line) drawing style, which was originally pioneered by Hergé.  Have a look at the example I picked up from TinTin and B&M, which clearly depicts the Ligne Claire at work.

It's a usage of straight line in the artwork with the same thickness, without any emphasize or shadowing on any work parts in a panel.  Style also uses strong colors, and a combination of cartoonish characters with realistic background details.

This style was heavily adopted by all the "Brussels school" artists, and that made them stand out from the other forms of artwork practiced by American and European genre.

It is a style, which is still being adopted by few artists across the globe, but not to an extent as it was utilized in 1950s, which adds a classic touch to the work of Jacobs and Hergé.

Let's come back to the Blake & Mortimer series released by CineBook with their distribution network in India in 2008.  There are 3 issues which are part of this pack, let's look at the synopsis of each of the titles, and their respective French Originals.  All these 3 issues were written and drawn by Edgar P. Jacobs himself.

1. The Yellow “M”:
(French Original: Album 6: La Marque Jaune, 1956)

A mysterious crime wave is sweeping London and nothing, from the Bank of England to the Crown Jewels, is safe. The identity of the criminal is unknown but Londoners are beginning to fear the symbol that is left at each crime scene, the Yellow “M”. Enters Philip Mortimer, and Blake to solve the mystery.

B&M 2: The Mystery of the Great Pyramid : Part 1
ISBN: 978-1-905460-37-3

Black-Mortimer 02 Cover1
B&M 2: BackCover
Pages: 56 | Published: Nov 2007

Black-Mortimer 02 Cover2

2. The Mystery of the Great Pyramid Vol.1:
(French Original: Album 4: Le Mystère de la Grande Pyramide, Tome 1, 1954)

Professor Mortimer, accompanied by the loyal Nasir, is in Cairo pursuing his study of Egyptology. With the assistance of his old friend, he deciphers some papyrus that was recently discovered.  His archaeological exploits soon turn out to be far more dangerous than he expected, as he calls on Captain Francis Blake for assistance but, as it turns out, Blake is the one truly in need of help.

3. The Mystery of the Great Pyramid Vol.2:
(French Original: Album 5: Le Mystère de la Grande Pyramide, Tome 2, 1955)

When news reaches him that Captain Blake has been assassinated by agents of Colonel Olrik at Athens Airport, Professor Mortimer vows to avenge his friend and sets out to discover the whereabouts of Olrik. Mortimer’s investigation leads him to the Great Pyramid where he begins to unravel the secrets of the Chamber of Horus, secrets that will lead him into the darkest depths of the Great Pyramid itself.

B&M 3: The Mystery of the Great Pyramid : Part 2 
ISBN: 978-1-905460-38-0

Black-Mortimer 03 Cover1
B&M 3: BackCover
Pages: 56 | Published: Jan 2008

Black-Mortimer 03 Cover2

However much I love the classic editions, Blake & Mortimer series were too slow for me, with far too much text interlaced between the artwork (one of the reasons why I took a long time to read and review this series from CineBook).

It seems to be the style of Jacobs to get his work in a style of novel, but that let's down the Comics medium which is known as a 'speaking art'.  Have a look at an example, which I picked up from the CineBook edition, The Mystery of the Great Pyramid.

The translators employed by CineBook for the English versions of B&M, should have had a real tough job to do, in working with all this text.

The famous Gilbert Gascard, (The creator of Ric Hochet, Reporter Johny for Tamil Comic Fans, and Chick Bill under the pseudonym Tibet), who served as an editor of TinTin magazine, shared the same feeling, which resulted in him taking years before reading E.P.Jacobs work in his own magazine.

But, with that said there is no denying the artwork and plots of Jacob is no lesser than any of the classics available at present.

B&M 02
An example of "Text" overshadowing the "Artwork" in B&M

CineBook have also released B&M 4: The Francis Blake Affair, in UK, which hasn't reached India yet. It's the 13th album in the series, and the first which was not written by Jacobs. I would be eager to read it when its available, to experience the new team which is handling the B&M series at present, which consists of one of my favorite writer Jean Van Hamme (XIII fame).

Edgar P. Jacobs passed away in 1987, and he was commemorated with a Sphinx on his cemetery tomb at Brussels, which is said to have a "collar beard", with a face looking lot similar to his famous character, Philip Mortimer, fittingly.

In 2004, the French and Belgian Post Offices worked together to dedicate stamps portraying Jacobs and his characters, which shows that along with him his characters were also immortalized.   For a complete list of work by Jacobs, visit this centenary memorial site, which is in French as with many other sites dedicated to Jacobs and his works, but we could still use the Google Translator, for exploring it.

Hope you enjoyed this post about the Blake and Mortimer, along with the author bio and background of the series.  If you want to experience the series, then grab the CineBook instalments, before they run out of stock.  It's worthy to be part of your classic collection, if you are a fan of them like me.

EdgarJacobs StampBlake-Mortimore Stamp   Jacobs & his characters: B & M
Immortalized on Stamps

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