As the Delhi Comic Con enters the third and final day, Business Standard brings you snapshots from the first two days of the annual comic fan’s pilgrimage.
Karan Vir Arora’s chicken-and-egg story
Vimanika CEO Karan Vir Arora is a staple at Comic Cons India events. As he points out, Vimanika was a sponsor to the very first Comic Con in the country. While the comic publisher sells many titles in these conventions, we are interested to know why we don’t see Vimanika or its present day Comic-book peers selling their titles at roadside book-stalls or Railways stations – a common practice for the first generation comic books like Amar Chitra Katha and Raj Comics. To this, Arora tells us that the market has changed. “While people are willing to dish out Rs300 to Rs400 on a words-only novel, they would not spend the same amount on a comic book or graphic novel which have a greater printing cost. While we do sell comic books at Rs 40, which hardly leaves any margin for us, it’s just not possible to sell a comic book for Rs 10, like in the olden days. This is also why distributors too are not keen to take up our products.” At a Comic Con then, what sells more – the merchandise or the Comic books? We definitely see more merchandise shops. “Merchandise and comics are like chicken and egg,” Arora tells us. “Today ignore either. Comic sell more in numbers, but merchandise have a bigger margin. They also help to bring back customers to our core product which is the comics. Once someone buys a T-shirt with a Vimanika character, they might get interested in knowing about the comics. And when the Comic book sales increase, merchandise sales will rise too. We would get a bit more help to cover our production costs.”
Sharad Sharma is here at the Comic con with his World Comics, an initiative in Comic-book journalism. World Comics ties up with major universities, NGOs, and educational institutions to enter far flung areas of rural India, where they help the people of these areas to create comics in their own language about their issues. The publication cost too is minimal, as Sharma points out, given that these comics are made on A4 sheets, and circulated as black-and white photocopies. “A farmer growing mushrooms is of no interest to the mainstream media. But farmers drawing comics to talk about the difficulties they face in growing mushrooms, is news. Our aim is to us comics as a catalyst in promoting the problems and concerns of those sections which do not usually get news-space. Comic con then is our way of letting more and more people know of these neglected sections,” Sharma says. World Comics have been coming Comic Cons for the past five years. They have books of Comic journalism, where they explain myriad and wide ranging topics, including ISIS, inflation, Mumbai Blasts and Godhra incidents among others, through comics. Sharma says they have also catered vernacular newspapers across the country with their cartoon strips, made the very people whose issues they highlight.
Joker is the man
Comic Cons are incomplete without Cosplay, and there were plenty of those in Delhi Comic Con this time. Incidentally the one character which seemed everyone’s favourite was Joker. We spotted at least ten of them – ranging from ‘Heath Ledger’s to ‘Jack Nicholson’s to ‘Jared Leto’s to random green-hair-white-face-purple-coats. The only character coming close to the number of Jokers, was the boy wizard Harry Potter, including one who had an uncanny resemblance to the onscreen version played by Danielle Radcliffe.
CosPlay is a serious thing
Cosplay is not a walk in the park. Comic Con will be featuring several Cosplay contests over the three days, and there are many who are vying for the prizes. Gaurav Ganguly, who dressed up as DC comics character Red Hood, said he had made the entire costume himself, including the guns, the mask and other paraphernalia. It took him an entire week, to arrange the required materials and perfect the design according to depictions in the comic books. Gaurav wasn’t alone. A particular Naruto and taken the pains of dyeing his hair golden yellow for getting the look right.
Hodor shall not speak
Kristian Nairn, AKA Hodor, from Game of Thrones was battered by questions about the upcoming Season 6 of the popular TV series, as soon as he took the stage. However, no matter how much he was coaxed and requested, the friendly giant did not say a word on the next season, joking that if he did, the show's directors might pop up and shoot him then and there.