I participated in the Bangalore comic con 2014, last month. It was a wonderful experience. Got to meet again lots of like minded people, Sold my art work, my books, some merchandise, etc.
I participated as an artist in the Artist Alley. Comic con also gave me a chance to launch my new comic series “Zikr”.
Another unique product that we had at our stall was a card set called “Warriors on Tips”. This card set is based on my book “Kurukshetra Yuddha”. It was like a set of trump cards for the warriors who participated in the war of Mahabharata. Each card had the art work of the warrior on one side and his description, warrior classification on the back side. I observed that the card set was a major hit among the visitors who came to our stall.
Comic con, being as lively and active as always, again proved to be a wonderful medium to get your stuff known to people. I have been participating in the various comic con events for past four years now and have observed the level of show and number of visitors increasing year on year.
Now, some observations. This year the Bangalore comic con was a paid event. Surprisingly, the crowd was even bigger. However, before the event I was checking some blogs and websites of comic book fans who had planned to skip the comic con this time. The reasons most of them gave was that there are more merchandise than comics in these cons.
I came across an interesting reason on one of the blogs. The author mentioned that comic book readers are traditionally considered as nerds. He was proud to be classified as a nerd. But the guy had a complaint that being a nerd is strongly becoming a fashion. His point was people are attending events like comic con to show that they are so “nerdy”. However, nerdy-ness is not something to show off. He points that young guys and girls want to look ‘nerdy’ even though they really are not. And what is the definition of being nerdy? Doing cosplays of a favorite character from comic books (even if they have not been following that comic book characters like crazy right from the inception of the character), and shouting on a high-piched voice when someone dressed up as their favorite comic book or popular culture movie character would come on stage of the event. This “nerd” did not want to come to an event which he supposed should only be confined to “nerds” and the reason was that there were so many “non-nerds” attending these events and pretending that they are “nerds”.
I also used to read comic books a lot in my childhood and have been recently re-developing that habit. I do not think that comic book readers are nerds. However, at the same time, I also believe that comic book reading teenagers are way different from those who are not reading them. But I will not call it “nerdy-ness”. There should be better word for people who want to live in an imaginative world, whose thoughts and creativity are nourished by the work of some hard-working story tellers and artists.
(I don’t know but somehow I can identify those who call themselves ‘nerds’ and are a big fan of all “Star-Wars”, “X-Men”, “DCs” and “Marvels” of the world. They would typically be thin, spectacled, disheveled hair, absolutely fluent in English and awesome in the grammar. They would know all the history geography of the comic book character(s) they follow. They could look intently at an art work for many hours. If its of their favorite hero/character, they will buy it no matter how much it costs.)
Those who call themselves as nerds, I call them proper fans. I believe that its one of the many pre-conceived notions a society develops towards these types of people. Typically things that are in a kind of secluded area of popular culture are deemed geeky. Comic books fall in such category. However, I believe that the scope of comic books are changing. It is less seen as a medium to tell story of super humans and more seen as actually a medium of telling thought provoking and unique stories with visuals. Its still a long way to go to change people’s mindset of nerdy ness, but I believe lots of artists and story tellers are trying to create innovative ways to tell their stories, original storyline, associated with Indian lifestyle and art work attached solely to the story theme.
I think it is important for comic book creators of India to stick to the Indian-ness while creating a comic book. You may be inspired by a Hollywood movie or a foreign comics, their art, etc. But unless our stories don’t resonate with Indian audience they will never going to like it. What customers we will end up with, will still be called “nerds”. Even If you copy some foreign stuff and try to Indianize it and still people are appreciating your work and stories, I congratulate you. But you are not creating Indian fan base, you are only promoting the “nerdy” notion in in their minds.
I met many creators at the event who focus on creating content more associated with daily life in India and I was glad to see that people appreciated their effort. If you make stories which have Indian-ness and Indian values at its core you do not need to worry about many things like; my story does not have anatomically right figures or voluptuous female bodies, etc. My advise to my fellow artists and those who like me want to be tell good stories through art must focus on stories and believe in that. The art must follow the soul of the story. Include action, sex, violence, bodybuilder guys only when needed. I confess that I, myself, am not adopting this practice properly. May be I too have some pre-conceived notions about art in comic books. But this is a field of art and art can never be confined within boundaries of any notion. I, therefore, will focus on creating good story and believe in it as I do not want ‘nerds’ to read my books but people who understand the values and concepts presented in those stories.
One Good event concluded wonderfully and more to come 🙂