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Comic capers for India

Comic book houses bring Indian stories and use Indian languages to lure comic lovers in the country

Photo: AP

Native tongue Thanks to Gotham, content has been localised

A few years ago, true believers in India were given perhaps the greatest surprise of their lives. Two men, Sharad Devarajan and Sunil Seetharaman, shared their passion for comic-books with India. Satiating the need of comic-book lovers, as well as op ening up a whole new world to the youth of the nation, Gotham comics brought home some of the most well-loved characters from the DC, Marvel and Dark Horse universe.

‘The Fantastic Four,’ ‘The Justice League,’ ‘Batman,’ ‘Superman,’ ‘Wolverine,’ ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ were some of the titles that were a major hit with kids and teens. Every month, Gotham Comics brought out the adventures of these superheroes in small 30-page digests at really low prices.

But perhaps the ultimate attraction from the Gotham stables were the giant super-sized specials that would come out every now and then. With rare collector’s titles like ‘Wolverine Origin,’ ‘Spiderman: Blue and Daredevil: Yellow’ and a cool comic-book poster to boot, it was a must-have for all comic-book fans worth their salt. The upcoming titles, aptly named ‘Collector’s Series,’ will boast of titles like ‘Hellblazer’ or more popularly in India as ‘Constantine,’ Batman titles like ‘Batman: Hush,’ ‘Batman: Year One’ – the inspiration of the film ‘Batman Begins,’ ‘Batman: The Dark Knight’ and the 2004 Eisner Award nominee for best new series ‘Losers.’

This is a bold step by Gotham Comics as nothing of this magnitude has ever been done for Indian readers ever before. “It is sad to see that these great comic-books are imported by individual agencies and sold at such high prices,” says Samarjit Choudhry, Vice President of Operations, Gotham Comics, referring to the classic comics and graphic novels that are sold in stores like Crossword and Landmark. These comic-books generally sell for anything in between Rs. 750 to Rs. 1,500. “College kids these days really can’t afford to shell out that much for a comic-book and I am hoping we can remedy that.”

Super-specials

These super-specials will be out in a matter of months with about two titles being released every month. “You can expect up to 25 titles a year,” he smiles.

The super-special digest format will be replaced by the original comic-book size format and its content slightly altered for Indian readers. The prices will also be lowered considerably but may not remain the same as the previous super-specials.

Virgin Comics and Gotham Comics have been really busy. Already having created the global phenomenon ‘Spider-Man India,’ they are back again with India-centric titles like ‘The Sadhu,’ ‘Snakewoman,’ ‘Devi,’ ‘Ramayan 3392 A.D’ and ‘Seven Brothers’ making it big in the market abroad, Virgin comics have helped establish India as a potential comic-book producer and story-teller. Shekar Kapur and Deepak Chopra are the masterminds behind most of the Virgin Comic titles. ‘Ramayan 3392 A.D’ is the epic re-telling of the Ramayan to a younger generation. Written by Shamik Dasgupta and with amazing art-work by Abhishek Singh, ‘Ramayan 3392 A.D’ is more of a graphic novel in its re-telling and aims to bring the ultimate story of the battle between good versus evil to the world.

A series called ‘Master-Blaster’ will also hit the stands some time soon.

Hero-Sachin

Based on cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, the comic-books will look at Sachin as a hero of the Indian people.

Gotham Comics also plans to launch these titles in Indian languages like Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and others. Ramayan will be the first title that will be launched in Hindi. Virgin Comics’ tryst with the silver screen has come at a very opportune time.

With Hollywood looking at comic books for its next super-hit, Virgin Comics has acquired its first major deal with ‘The Sadhu’ getting the silver screen treatment. Comic-book aficionado and star Nicholas Cage, has already signed up for the project.

Directors like Guy Ritchie and John Woo are now contributing their talents to comic-books with titles like ‘Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper’ and ‘John Woo’s 7 Brothers’ coming to stands too.

AKSHAY RAJMOHAN

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