Where would you see Altair al-La’Ahad, Poision Ivy, Two Face, Loki, Harry Potter, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Joker? The second annual Indian Comic Con. Here is a round up of day two of the comic convention.
A New Delhi taxi driver who usually drives to the famed Dilli Haat wants to buy toys from the pavement outside it. “Generally, these toys cost about 15 or 20 rupees but today they are saying that they will sell them to me for 200.” The driver, who buys the toys for his children, says that the vendors have raised prices because of the ‘fair’ being organised there.
The aforementioned fair is the Second Annual Indian Comic Con (check out our preview of the event here). If you haven’t read the preview, this year’s Comic Con can probably be touted as the most significant Comic Con that India might ever witness. The presence of influential and revered comic artist Robert Crumb; publisher and co-founder of The Comics Journal and founder of the Harvey Awards, Gary Groth; and publisher of the acclaimed anthology Drawn and Quarterly, Chris Oliveros will all be guests of honour at the convention. The presence of such prominent figures at an event in its nascent stage may shape the way comics are percieved and created in later years. Missing Day 1 due to train ticket reservations and delays, I left on Saturday, Feb 18 at about 10am for Comic Con. The Delhi weather which is generally intensely cold was mild enough for my Mumbai-based non-Viking genes to survive under the cover of one jacket. Reaching the venue, I realised I was a bit early but it didn’t matter.
On entering, I was confronted by an Odisha Arts and Crafts Exhibition but as I walked further in, I found the place I was looking for. Comic Con at 11am is not a very colourful affair. Mostly around me were people from the media who were looking for stories, not comics. People soon started coming in around noon, at which time artist Aakash Anand did a ‘live art session’ where he drew canvas designs that were relatively good looking as part of the launch of his ‘abstract’ comic book Untitled #1. There was some talk about how he wishes to promote the ‘abstract genre’ in India after which the sun got too harsh and I left the stage. The number of attendees had doubled by now and traversing the venue was becoming harder.
The Wonder Shop, ‘a magical toy and unusual gift shop’ turned out to be a start-up venture of a father-son team from Bombay who were interested in magic as a hobby and decided to turn it into a profession. The ‘shop’ will be an online store that will sell and teach people magic tricks.
When I wandered over to the stage, it was not a particularly exciting place due to the lack of anything even remotely interesting going on. What put me off the most was the spectacle of random children dancing on the stage and being asked to repeat it to a most asinine song about sheep and dogs and the jungle or something.
After this, I mostly wandered around talking to people about costumes. There were a fair few such as Altair al-La’Ahad from Assassin’s Creed, Poision Ivy and Two Face from Batman, Loki from Thor and Harry Potter. Comic Con regulars such as Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Joker were also around.
It wasn’t until the talk by Gary Groth that things really picked up. Groth spoke in detail about the rise of alternative and underground comics and about the rise of his own Fantagraphics Books. He also spoke in length about the kind of lawsuits they faced and how they managed to stay afloat by keeping low overheads. Groth’s talk was entertaining and peppered with statements like, “I wanted to be a burr in the saddle of mainstream comics,” and, “All awards are useless.” What made the talk especially priceless for me was two things – the fact that Robert Crumb was sitting about two chairs away from me (glee!), who was extremely disappointed with the questions people were asking Groth and a lady sitting behind me who pointed to Groth and asked the man next to her, “Does this man make comics? Why is he talking if he doesn’t?”
Day 2 of Comic Con India was extremely satisfying although nothing of major significance happened. I did speak to Gary Groth and said ‘Hi’ to Robert Crumb which made my day almost unbelievable. More from Comic Con soon. Keep watching this space.