Writer Shamik Dasgupta shares with Ektaa Malik his inspiration for the fantasy comic book seriesThe Legends of Aveon. Chandrakanta and Steampunk are major influences
Remember the last minute hassled email that you sent off to your third cousin twice removed, the one studying some thing at some university in the States (you don’t really care ). You have begged him to get you the latest edition of Captain America comic book ? Also you have requested him for the 50th anniversary issue of the Amazing Spider-Man , with an elongated pretty please thrown in. And when the distant cousin comes back home without your prized editions of the comic book, haven’t you torn your hair is desperation and wished for an Indian comic book? One that is readily available and does justice to the kid within you, with its graphic and a riveting plot. Well looks like your prayers (and million others) have been answered. Finally we have a full fledged home grown comic book series. The Legends of Aveon 9, The Train to Vexadus (Rovolt) spells respite for many comic fans in India. Written by Shamik Dasgupta, its a rollercoaster ride into a land of fantasy, sci-fi, human/alien emotions, with action thrown in for good measure. Shamik, is no stranger to the graphic world, having previously written the Ramayan 3392 AD. “After Virgin Comics shut down in 2008, I worked with other comics. But after Ramayana 3392 AD, I missed fantasy” said Shamik. “I believe even the original one was also fantasy. Some things must have happened, but I don’t think a god like figure of Ram or the demon Ravan would have existed.”
Shamik then shifted his gaze to the Indian comic scene. “People would only want Avengers for kids kind of things. But we can’t beat Marvel and DC at their own game. They know their superheroes,” said Shamik.
The Aveon series has inspirations from Chandrakanta, the famous fantasy novel written by Devki Nandan Khatri. One also sees presence of the Western sci-fi element. The Lord of the Rings also sneaks in at times. “We — Abhishek Malsuni (the artist of the comic) and I were not interested in another interpretation of the Myths. We took the raw structure of Chandrakanta, and took the story to a much larger scale. The Steampunk, a sub-genre of sci-fi is also used,” shared the writer, who is a self-confessed Ringer. (The term used to denote fans of The Lord of the Rings)
Steampunk? Is that something to do with listening to Punk music while enjoying a steam bath? “No, replied Shamik thoroughly amused. “It’s a sci-fi genre which has intensive usage of steam power, and is usually based in alternative time period, like the Victorian era.”
The comic series is the story of Human settlers in Aveon. “The story is set in the future, the earth has long been destroyed. Aveon also has aliens, red skinned creatures called Gnorms, which are like the Red Indians of America. The Train to Vexadus is the first episode of the series. There are seven episodes in each series and 60 pages in each episode,” shared Shamik. The comic book has been edited by Ron Marz, the creator of works like The Silver Surfer and GreenLantern.
Shamik feels that Indian comics lack depth, and that is the reason for its stagnated fan following. “There is no evolution of the characters. Nagraj is still the same. He fights the villains, and its repeated in every offering. Whereas if you look at Spiderman or Batman, they have evolved with time, and it reflects in the story. Indian comics have been very feudal,” expressed Shamik.
The next offerings from the Aveon series has the villains surfacing. “They have their reasons to be bad, which might just be noble at times. You will hate to love them. The same way, Tez, the protagonist of the series, is an alien and a shape shifter. This offering deals with the journey of Tez and other creatures to the capital of the Kingdom of Vexadus. There the real drama unfoldz. Betrayal and love, both are on the cards,” added Shamik. He continued “That ways Tez is a very Indian Super hero. He is an alien but very human in his approach and character, with his conflicts and flaws. And this is the reason that Indian heroes work. That’s a global trend , you have had Batman and superman also becoming more vulnerable.”