Comic Con Express 2012, Bangalore was the first Comic Con held in the Garden City and from what we’ve seen, it won’t be the last.
Expectation. That’s what you get when you pull off an excellent event. Comic Con has started to become that alternative event which does more than what the name suggests, and because of that, the level of expectation for Comic Con has been significantly raised. As a convention for comics in India, Comic Con attracts some great comic book artists and publishers, but this convention is also a platform for many small businesses trying to push their quirky art-related products. So it was no great surprise to most comic book fans, when organizers of Comic Con, Twenty Onwards Media, decided to bring Comic Con to Bangalore on September 8-9.
Bangalore was all set to host its first Comic Con and we were told by a few Bangaloreans that it was about time this happened. Apparently, this city is home to quite a large number of comic book enthusiasts and more importantly, they have a large community of manga fans. We decided to take these views with a pinch of salt, because we wanted to keep our own expectations in check. As soon as we saw the venue, we realized that our speculation was unwarranted. The Kormangala Indoor Stadium in Bangalore was buzzing with excitement as the first few Comic Con Express attendees walked in. Stalls were hurriedly finished up and in no time at all, Comic Con Express 2012, Bangalore was in full swing.
Walking through the convention by yourself for the first time is always the best way to get a feel of how things will go. The first few stalls are almost always the biggest ones, and this time around Amar Chitra Katha and Bombay Merch were the first stalls in sight, and throughout the rest of the Comic Con, they remained among the busiest. The stalls that made a big impression right away were Wacom, Sufi Comics, Kuru Chronicles, Libera Artisti and Blaft Publications. All these stalls stood out for their eye-catching displays, clever/creative production values and their attentive staff. It was good to see plenty of new, indie comics publishers making their debut or improving upon their collections. Companies such as Chariot Comics, Rovolt and Pipe Dream Comics made people sit up and take notice. There were a lot of independent artists and businesses present as well, such as t-shirt company Leep, The Tap, Chumbak and Abhijeet Kini.
Comic Con was bereft of any special guests this time around, so we had no option but to check in on some of the workshops that were taking place. Holy Cow launched their new series Aghori with a trailer that was basically comprised of pictures that had the audience pause briefly, and then eventually lose interest. Pop Culture Publishing‘s big release this time was Payback, and the creators spoke about the research they put into the comic (which is about the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai). They had to do a lot of research about Pakistan, and the lengths to which they went to get things right was quite compelling. Nickleodeon did something with Dora the Explorer and Ninja Hattori which made the kids happy or something. A trailer for the animated feature, Delhi Safari, was screened and the quality of the animation was quite impressive, so keep an eye out for that one.
Day one of Comic Con Express also had some excellent cosplayers, with a remarkable Two Face triumphing over dozens of Batmen and Jokers. They weren’t kidding about the manga either, with Naruto, Bleach and Samurai Champloo characters making a splash with comic book fans that visited the venue. People took pictures with all their favourite characters, and trying to get around eager shutterbugs was one of the biggest challenges at Comic Con. The first day of Comic Con built up a fair bit of momentum and the second day promised to be even better.
Families gathered in droves for the second day of Comic Con. Sunday is always the big day at this event and Bangalore did not disappoint. There were plenty of launches on Sunday, such as Level 10 Comics’ complete Batu Gaiden graphic novel, Campfire Graphic Novel‘s Steve Jobs: Genius by Design, Pipedream Labs’ Dr Ajax, Sufi Comics’ Wise Fool of Baghdad and Rovolt’s Aveon 9. The launch of all of these titles only indicated the diversity that was on show at this Comic Con. Batu Gaiden is a fantasy manga about cricket (no, really it is) while Campfire offers up a biography of Steve Jobs.
Aveon 9 is a sci-fi epic that has stunning art and hopefully, a decent storyline, while another sci-fi/detective character Dr Ajax could be the surprise package of this Comic Con. Sufi Comics’ Wise Fool of Baghdad looks beautiful with Arabic-style illustrations and intricate calligraphy, delicately navigating across the page; the quality of materials used to make this comic are some of the best around.
At some point in the afternoon, the queue to get into the stadium stretched out all the way to the gate, and people were absolutely bouncing with anticipation. Inside, the place was beginning to resemble a pressure cooker, but nobody was complaining. Comics and merchandise were being bought, and the enthusiasm did not wane. Cosplayers came prepared even better on day two, and we spied some classics such as Thor and Mario, as well as weird one such as Jack Sparrow and The Dictator. The final day is when the winners of the cosplay contest are announced, and with a trip to Goa on the line, this is serious business!
A stall that perhaps did not receive as much attention as it deserved was Muthu Comics. Translating classic comics including Moebius-drawn Lt. Blueberry, European classics such as XIII, Lucky Luke and John Steele into Tamil is a labour of love and while nobody really gave them the time of day, they were perhaps the reason why Comic Con is so important in this country. We need to know what’s out there and while buying the merch and smiling for pictures is always great, new discoveries are the reason people will always come back for more. Comic Con Express, Bangalore came to a close with cosplay winners being announced, but it mattered little to the majority of smiling folk that left the stadium, comics in hand. More from Comic Con Express 2012, Bangalore soon.
Photos by: Devavrata Ambardekar