Thursday, November 14, 2013

Jatin Varma

Taking comics seriously

By Jayanthi Madhukar, Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Nov 14, 2013, 09.30 PM ISTTaking comics seriously

Jatin Varma (29) Founder, Comic Con India
He was 22 when he decided to start the company Twenty Onwards Media in New Delhi that began its operations by publishing Random Magazine (of the Golden Kela fame that annually recognises the worst in Indian cinema). This soon transitioned into creating video content for weekly shows for TV channels such as MTV and Bindass.

However, Varma, an avid comic collector, had another idea. "I was envious of the Comic Cons happening in the US," he says. "It would cost Rs 3-4 lakh to visit San Diego's Comic Cons." So he did the next best thing — bring Comic Con to India. This, in July 2010.

After discussing the idea with two employees who were also comic fans, Varma zeroed in on Dilli Haat for its footfalls and ambiance. He ditched his first idea of India Habitat Centre as a venue. Although Varma felt that weather-wise December was the best month in Delhi for an event of this sort, he had to wait until February 2011 for availability at the much sought-after venue. India's first Comic Con rolled out to a great response.
Varma's only regret was that the pioneer of Indian comics, Anant Pai, fell sick the very day that he was to have been felicitated. "He died after a few weeks," he recalls.

Among the big names who attended the first ever Comic Con was the legendary Pran Kumar Sharma, creator of Chacha Chowdhury comics that Varma collected as a kid. Right from the age of 10, Varma has been collecting comics of Asterix and Tintin, his personal favourites. He had expected 2,000 people but 12,000 people visited the event. Of the Rs 14 lakh that was invested, part of it was recovered. "We were prepared for a total loss," laughs Varma who sees Comic Con making profits from the next year. Above all, he is glad to have brought the mecca of comic lovers to India.

Today, Comic Con events have been held in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. These are called the Comic Con Express which are the travelling versions of the Comic Con. At the first such Comic Con Express in Mumbai, sales touched Rs 35 lakh in two days.

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