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

Feb 19, 2011

Comic Con India – New Delhi - 2011

In another few hours, India will have its first-ever Comic Con, a kind of which have been in existence in Americas, Europas, and Japan, for near 4 decades, but only has been in talk in India up recently. It’s truly a chance for India, to stake its claim in the international arena, with its range of offerings, which aren’t dictated by the Westerners or the Easterners.

We here at Comicology, give you a heads-up on with few know-hows, and about what you could expect from the 2-day event extravaganza, set to showdown at the capital city of New Delhi.

Convention for Comics, what about Book Fairs then?

Books and its related Conventions have happened over the years, since the time it has come into existence. While a general Book Convention brings readers of all genre’s, it doesn’t focus on one particular way of story telling, or that matter an original take. Comics are the one’s which takes the story telling, and keeps it close to the ways in which it was originally been in use from Stone Age, the Graphical way.

Comic Cons (aka Conventions), are the result of that love towards Comics or Graphic Novels. You get to focus on one, you cherish reading the most, and meet fellow like minded people, whom you always wanted to gang up with.

How many Comic Cons are happening around the World?

Well, it seems almost every major city in the West, and the Japan, Korean hemispheres hosting an Comic Con event of its own. But the most famous ones, and the one which every Comic fan cherishes to attend in our life time, can be brought down to

  • San Diego Comic-Con InternationalIt’s the 4th largest Comic Con in the world, but the one which usually pulls all the media and happening crowd among its strength, especially considering that it’s from the American heartland.

  • Japan’s ComiketsIt’s the largest Comic Con in the world, and the only one which is exclusively organized for the Self Publishing creators working on Manga genre.

  • Angoulême International Comics FestivalIt’s the 2nd largest Comic Con in the world, which heralds the world of Comics, away from the impact of American or Manga, promoting the Franco-Belgian goldies.

  • Lucca Comics and GamesEven though considered the oldest (started in 1966), and the second largest, it has never been able to break out of its traditional and geographical mould. But it has its own takers.

New Comic Con Header

Is India ready to host it’s own Comic Con Yet?

I would say it’s long due, even though I must also admit that we haven’t grown to a stage where we have number of players in the business, to have a Comic Con of our own. But, the last couple of years, we have seen a lot of enthusiasm among Comics fans, and it’s ably supported by a new wave of creators working on Comics, who have all geared to make them count in the international arena.

Indian Comic Con, is certainly a one which is much needed to nurture and channel this talent, and make it be heard in a common forum, published internationally.

Who are the Organizers, and how it evolved?

One of the first talks about Comic Con in India, I heard was from a Comic fan based out in Mumbai, who Jatin Verma - Twenty Onwards Mediawanted to have it set for the same 2011, in his city. But an idea, like that needs not only the passion, but  also the able to put their hard earned money in the picture, and more importantly support of a business house which thrives on the media, which matters most for such events and bring the involved companies all under one roof.

That was made possible by Twenty Onwards Media, based out in New Delhi, and it was it’s chief, Jatin Varma, who can now proudly be called as the Founder of the initiative. Much kudos should go to him and his team, to bring this event into fruition.

Why is it in Delhi, and not any other City?

It’s an obvious choice, since the organizers, are based out in the City.  Being the national capital, one can’t question its choice of selection either.

But, what would I like to see is the Comic Con India, being hosted across each metro cities of India, every year. That will help it reach much wider audience. It’s the first one, so let it happen, before we ponder over city loyalty and affections :)

Who all are participating?

You normally expect only Comic Companies or Graphic Novel affiliates, to find in a Comic Con. But, Comics or GNs have become more an enabler for a number of other businesses, like Merchandising through Toys, Movie Features, and more. And considering, that India doesn’t have a number of players in the field yet, to fill an event with only those companies, the organisers have ensured to rope-in companies who can be linked up to Comics in some ways, like Toys and Merchandising shops, Print Media, etc.

CampfireVimanika LogoLevel 10That said, there are still a handful of Comic Companies, who are going to make their presence, and these are three, whom I am looking forward to.

Some of them are going to have their new launch up of titles, while the others would bring their collections, to be bought and signed over from the creators themselves.

Apart from them, the long awaited independent projects like ChitrakathaRavanayanChitrakatha, and Ravanayan, would also be present The chance to sync up with the folks, also offers a chance to barge them with questions on their target date, one you can’t let go, for sure.

What could I expect in the Event?

Everything, what you could normally expect on a Comic fans and creators, get-together. But, most importantly, it’s going to be a chance to interact with niche people, who share your passion towards Comics.

Let’s ask this to ourselves. How many times we wanted to explore and share our readings or new finds on Comics, with anyone other than your usual circle? Why is it so, because we expect to hear and share another person’s perspective, over the ones you loved reading, and discover new items for our reading in the process. And What’s more interesting then syncing up with the people, who have worked on them.

Comic Con Gathering

The introduction of World of Internet in mid 90’s, could have paved the way for more such interactions  happening over the net, and the ages of Web forums, have now only been pushed to a back alley, by the Costume Contestmore faster Websites promoting Social Networking (like Facebook, Orkut), where the like minded can interact with a bunch of people, and share and cherish their reads and finds, all the while not having to know personally.

But, still there is nothing better than the olden ways, of face to face interaction, and here is a chance to do so.

Apart from that, there is a chance to bring the Superhero (or may I dare to say, the Kid) in you, as a series of prizes have been announced by the organizers. So don’t be surprised, if you see Supermans and Batmans, and even some of our homegrown superheroes, eavesdropping on you at the event.

Is there an Agenda to the Event?

Comic Con India 19 Feb 10Comic Con India 20 Feb 10There is a set plan spread over two days, which gives you an option to plan your visits and be engaged with the happenings over time. Here is a Two Pager, sourced from the Organizing team.

There is almost a workshop happening, every half an hour, so the hard choice of picking and choosing the ones you like the most, is upon you.

I guess it’s, going to be tricky :)

So, here we are, to celebrate the most unique passion, among all readers of arts. Let’s be Comical and let our heart out on the event, and get attached to the one we dear the most, Comics. 

Comicology wishes the Indian Comic Con, all the best, and hope we can have some good moments to take out from the event.

For further readings, here are our fellow Bloggers who have blogged their heart-out about the event, which all deserves a look and a read.

Feb 15, 2011

Chennai Book Fair – 2011 : Part 2 of 2

We continue our coverage of Chennai Book Fair 2011 (CBF 2011). The first part of the same can be found here, detailing ACK’s Tamil launch.

Vandumama Vandumama and Vanathi

If NHM was the talk of the Book fair, among Tamil Comic fans, then Vanathi Publishers (aka Vanathi Pathipagam, as its called in the native language) had its own share among the Nostalgic crowd, which grew reading the inspired writings by acclaimed children writer, Mr. V.Krishna Murthy, more famously known among the Vanathi Pathipagammasses under his nickname, Vandumama.

Being not so regular reader of Literary world, I am not much akin to the various publishing houses which ships out their range of titles every year. That includes Vanathi Publishers, whom I thought that had a tryst with Comics for sometime in the past, but never knew that they still are actively involved in promoting the old classics of Tamil Comics.

Right after the Chennai Book Fair 2010, a fellow Comiker alerted that Vanathi Publishers had released a Bale Balu Collection by Vandumama collected edition of Bale Balu, which was a popular comic strip cum short story feature, published regularly, in the erstwhile Poonthalir magazine during its golden run, when Vandumama worked as its Editor all-in-all. 

As I didn’t recollect seeing this edition in the fair, I couldn’t believe that news, up until I saw the book in for real. It was a complete nostalgia reminder to see the comic series, back in quality paper, bound perfectly in good packaging, priced at INR 200.

So, after hearing about further facts that Vanathi and Vandumama, go a long way back in history, with their continuous publishing of his collections all through the years, it was only a formality that Vanathi’s stall made it to a must-to-visit list, for this year’s fair.

But, what I found at the publishers stall were not just Comics collection of Vandumama, but a host of a series which Various titles by Vandumamahe had written over a handful of magazines, in his illustrious career.

Here is a glimpse of them, which have all been published by Vanathi, under their different brand names of Thiruvarasu Puthaga Nilayam (திருவரசு புத்தக நிலையம்), and Gangai Puthaga Nilayam (கங்கை புத்தக நிலையம்), (where Puthaga Nilayam, means Book House).

Iyanthirangal Iyanguvathu Eppadi by VandumamaVedikkai Vilayatu Vignyanam by VandumamaThethiyum Sethiyum by VandumamaNeengalum Manthiravathiyagalam by Vandumama

Nilakuthirai by VandumamaUlaga Adisayangal Nooru by VandumamaNeengale Seyyalam by Vandumama

What I came to know through the people who were managing the stall, was that it was only one part of the Vandumama titles which have come out of their publishing house, and much more can be collected, with a visit to their publishing house, in T Nagar, Chennai.

I did visit them and was amazed to see the lineup of titles, which I all grabbed in pronto. To restrict the length of this post, and to keep it only to the findings of Chennai Book Fair, we could see those titles in a different post, later.

But, what I must say is that if you have spent your childhood reading Vandumama’s stories, then you might not think twice before owning these collections, much of which are very low priced, considering the year in which it’s released.

One of the other advantages of visiting these Book Stalls, are a chance you get to explore some unknown titles from much unsought publishers, time and again. This time around there were two publishing houses, which I had never read or heard about from any Comikers (like Persepolis in Tamil venture discovered during last Book Fair), during my past altercations.

Should we blame the awareness among Comic readers? or should we blame the publicity or marketing done by these publishing houses? is a Egg and Chicken question. So, let’s put that aside and have a brief look at both of them.

Ashoka from MacawOther Macaw BooksAshoka (Macaw Books)

First-up, is from a series of Children comics titles released, by a company called Macaw Books, in 2009. As I could gather from the back cover, this issue is part of their Great Heroes of India series, which seems to have 10 titles in the fold, priced INR 50 each.

This very book starts of with an illustration page straight-up, and doesn’t give credit to either the artist or Ashoka from Macaw (Inner Art)the series writer for the book, in a typical bygone Publishing industry’s mentality.

The artwork reflects that it was purely meant for Children’s literacy, even though it does pose some talented strokes, by whomsoever who worked on them. Maybe he stuck to what was being asked from him, by the publishing house.

I couldn’t source any more details about the publishing house, as their official website, is now no more in operation, as it seems to have given way to Malware and Spybots. The only little information I could source, were from their Profile page on Indiamart.

Seems the publishers never took their business seriously enough, and have folded over the time among competition, to bring more quality titles, to the market. Befits them, if that’s true.

Ramayana from Seasons Ramayan (Seasons Publishing)

Now to the second one from the Book Fair, which I consider as one of the priced collection to have been picked up from the event.

It’s from Seasons Publishing, based out from Mylapore, Chennai, and known more for their number of Children Activities and Illustrations books.

Ramayana from Seasons Inner ArtThey seem to have come up with a wonderfully illustrated and colored title, about the Indian mythology, Ramayan, as way back in 2005, priced at INR 135.

Have a look at one of the richly drawn inner pages, which is as good as an animated feature.  The illustrator of this series, is the wonderfully talented, Gaman.

Even thought the artwork and the book quality might deserve the price tag, back in 2005, that could have sounded big bucks, and partly could have resulted in the unsold venture.

Gaman Palem Here is the artist Gaman Palem, in flesh and blood, along with his most famous works. You can read his latest interview, where he talks about his work and Graphic Novels penetration in India. Also check out him in action, in this NDTV feature.

Surely, this artist deserves a rich bit of accolade, and I only wish he gets more prominent recognition from the growing Indian Comic scene.

As far as Seasons Publishing, this comics initiative seems to have been their only attempt to explore the medium. Obviously, the results of being darkened by the non-publicity, could have  given them wrong signals from proceeding further.

Hope talented artists like Gaman, and newbies like Seasons Publishing in the Comics medium scene, work out of more titles in this wonderful niche medium, as the Indian comic scene, is far better than what it used to be in 2005, when they first tried their trade.

Comic Con LogoThere is more awareness, and much wider audiences who are ready embrace this art form, and the traditional way of story telling, which dates as much as the Stone age of humankind.

The amount of interest this Comics medium, enjoys at present can much easily by showcased, by the upcoming first ever Indian Comic Con event organized by New Delhi based Twenty Onwards Media (much famously known as the publishing house beyond Random Humour magazine), in their city. 

The efforts they have taken to bring this mega concept into reality, which not only involved putting a bigger budget into the mix, but also in the countless hours spent towards bringing a host of publishers, artists and writers, under a single roof.  The participants for the event, now is a rare mix of legends, who have established the industry as it exists in India today, as well as the newbie, who are going to shape the Indian Comic scene, for the foreseeable future.

Indian Comic Con, is a much bigger concept which deserves an exclusive post of its own, so we will keep it for the coming days. Now to return back to our CBF 2011 event.

That’s as much as the collection, I managed to gather on Comics in the Chennai Book Fair. There were larger number of publishers who had showcased their new range of titles, but much of them are the Illustrated editions, aimed for kids and young readers. I only wish a handful of them, do get into the Graphical way of storytelling, either in form of Comics or Graphic Novels. They would make up for quite a good showdown, considering the amount of artist talent which is in house in India, and right here in Chennai too.

And now to reserve a place for now customary let-out corner of the blog post, and to detail the events which I had mentioned at the start of the post. Leading up to the Chennai Book Fair, some of the regular trouble makers, masquerading in the guise of Tamil Comic fans, had done enough damage to the those who took pains to bring Lion and Muthu Comics, to be made available, in the fair for the last couple of years. A result of which, they had lost the interest and avoided any efforts to bring up a lost cause again, which didn’t stop the rumor mongers going great guns, to conceal and reinterpret facts.

It was a personal disappointment, as I had been hoping to see the just released Lion Jumbo Special, reaching a much bigger audience through this fair. As it turned, it had to be pushed back to ardent readers, helping each other out to get their copy of the edition. Then again, only if Lion or Muthu publishers decide to make their presence felt officially, in a forum, probably along with a partnership, this is a going to be a recurring scene in Chennai Book Fair. Hope the better light, is just around the corner.

And if that wasn’t enough, I couldn’t help then making a reference to the poor infrastructure setup, which FindParkingCartoonthe visitors, are being subjected in Chennai Book Fair, every year. The problems toiletwhich range from Irregular Parking, Improper Ventilation, Unorganized Stall setup, Inconvenience for Debit/Credit Card customers, to a poor arrangement for much important nature calls, points to the fact, with a slap in a face, that you aren’t expected to be here longer, or that matter be here itself.

All those publishers who claim poor sales, should first push through the right sources, to setup basic amenities for the visiting book-fetish. As everyone knows, a Happy Body reacts with a Happy Mind, which is good for the book sales.

Year on Year, visits to Book Fair are being made with the expectation of seeing some improvements, but the resolve to keep visiting only takes a beating, every time you take the effort. No wonder, more than the book stalls, you find the crowd gathered around the temporary food stalls setup on the ground.  They seem to be the only people, happy with the mess. Hope the upcoming Comic Con India, would be better organized, away from the mess happening every year, at Chennai.

Che Graphic Novel by Payani Books A Peoples History of America - Graphic Novel by Payani Books Before I close, two important titles I missed from mentioning, and with a purpose, are the newly launched two full fledged Graphic Novels in Tamil, by a newcomer called Payani Books.

As I got to know of them only after the Chennai Book Fair, through another Comiker, and for the sheer amount of quality and work, which has gone down in getting these two titles in such good quality, in a little time - means they need a special post for their efforts. So, that’s reserved for another day.

As this is the first set of post for the year 2011, wish you all a Happy New Year and hope you had enjoyed your Feb 14, with your loved and dear ones. It’s a fresh new year, and fresh start in the blogging effort for Comicology. Let’s hope we have more chance to interact, and cherish our niche reading pleasure for months to come.  Adios Amigos !!

Feb 14, 2011

Chennai Book Fair – 2011 : Part 1 of 2

Season’s rainfall might have played hide and seek, in this Southern city of India, for the New Year, but one common thing which has gelled with the book-fetish of Chennai, for the past 34 years, was starting the year with a place to cherish their reading passion, which is slowly taking a beating in this Instant world of World Wide Web, and Social Networking.

January 2011, saw BAPASI hosting its 34th Chennai Book Fair, to kick off the new year, and we hoped to cover the event just like 33rd Chennai Book Fair, where we covered the news and events as it happened from the ground.

But the reality and the disappointment surrounding the organizing of Book Fair, sunk in our resolve, and let the efforts of covering the event go down in vain. But, as I met and interacted with the fellow comikers, I realized that they were keen for our blog to continue reporting on our finds from the event, keeping aside the personal likes and dislikes (which I will reserve for the end of the post).

As they say often, no matter what, The Show Must Go On !!! So better late than never, here is our long pending Chennai Book Fair coverage.

ACKAmar Chitra Katha (in Tamil)

Tamil Comics fans who were disappointed to find their favorite Tamil Comics missing from the Book fair this time, were surprised to see what was in store at the usually crowded, New Horizon Media (NHM).

NHMNHM has been a revelation ever since they entered Tamil Publishing industry in 2004, changing the face of the industry completely. They have tried their trade among the old timers, and were able to encroach much of their forte, at the same time surprising with newer launches every now and then. Like any success story, there are debates over the criticality of their vision, and publishing schedule or choices, but no comics fans would hesitate to see them try out the niche field of Tamil Comics, which long is starving off from a professional approach to the publishing.

Prodigy Comix  Kalam (Tamil)[4] After trying with a Short graphical bio of Abdul Kalam, under their Prodigy brand last year, they have now ventured onto a comic brand, which has a traditional foothold dating back to 1967, in the Indian Comics industry, the classic Amar Chitra Katha (ACK).

ACK and its tryst with Tamil audience is not new, as there were a couple of publishers, who had tried their hands on them in the past. Most notably Paico Publishers, who had rebranded the Tamil versions as Poonthalir Amar Chitra Kathai (PACK), and later Dina Malar, a Tamil daily ACK Tenali Ramannewspaper, which continuously serialized these classics through their weekly supplement, Siruvar Malar.

But, the translations of those times were of old school, going with the trend of those yesteryears.  While  this time around they have been exclusively translated again by NHM, and are also distributed through primarily through their channels, all through India.

I had bought a couple of titles, from the set of 24 titles, which they have published all through last year, and was impressed with the translation effort which has gone through them, rekindling the rare quality seen in the older times.

The selection of 24 titles, range from Mythology, to Historical Legends, and to Folktales, and they promise a whole bunch of reading experience. There may be few apprehensions over whether ACK can bring back the readership, which has now moved over to much bigger graphic story telling format, but for those who would like their kids to get started through Indian Mythology or History, through the wonderful medium of Comics, this could be a great head start.

ACK Tamil - Krishnan [81-8482-336-3]ACK Tamil - Ganesan [978-81-8482-372-1]ACK Tamil - Raman [81-8482-335-5]ACK Tamil - Hanuman [81-8482-338-X]ACK Tamil - Garuda [978-81-8482-516-9]ACK Tamil - Beeman and Hanuman [978-81-8482-416-2]ACK Tamil - Abimanyu [978-81-8482-371-4]ACK Tamil - Karnan [978-81-8482-417-9]ACK Tamil - Krishana and Naragasuran [81-8482-139-5]ACK Tamil - Krishnan and Jarasandan [978-81-8482-514-5]ACK Tamil - Kumbakarna [978-81-8482-373-8]ACK Tamil - Parkadal [978-81-8482-544-2]

Badri from NHM, confirms that they will continue to publish more titles of ACK in Tamil, in the new year 2011, and I for one, only wish that they make them available at a more affordable price range.

One among the possible slow moving factors, as I heard from fellow friends and Comikers, were the price tag of around INR 35, to buy a single comic. I doubt, what leeway NHM could have had in pricing their titles, as ACK’s original English versions get sold for the same asking rate. But considering that NHM can sell through their official site, a handsome discount will not only help it reach maximum fans, but also would push them to collect the entire series.

ACK Tamil - Stories of Arjuna [978-81-8482-515-2]ACK Tamil - Stories of Vishnu [978-81-8482-391-2]ACK Tamil - Harshar [978-81-8482-517-6]ACK Tamil - Asokar [978-81-8482-418-6]ACK Tamil - Chandragupta Mauryar [978-81-8482-540-4]ACK Tamil - Sivaji [978-81-8482-398-1]ACK Tamil - Purushotaman and Alexander [978-81-8482-542-8]ACK Tamil - Akbar [978-81-8482-419-3]ACK Tamil - Krishna Devarayar [978-81-8482-541-1]ACK Tamil - Tenali Raman [978-81-8482-374-5]ACK Tamil - Dear Friends [978-81-8482-390-5]ACK Tamil - Kullanari [978-81-8482-392-9]

Some of the titles, in the lineup have been published as far back as March 2010, which makes us question the publishing schedule. There is no official confirmation, on why these titles were held back from distribution for so long, as only after the Chennai Book Fair, we start to see them more regularly on the book stores.

But, now that it has happened, I can see that they are stacked prominently, to catch the shoppers eyesight.  Hope more readers would benefit to read their favorite ACK titles, again in a new avatar. After the Book Fair, I managed to get the complete ACK Tamil lot published so far by NHM, about which I would reserve a post in the coming days.

Continue reading our concluding Part of CBF 2011 coverage, where we Discover Vandumama and More…


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