Saturday, April 11, 2015

Super Indian

Greetings out there in the Super Indian Universe!
It’s that time again — the annual San Diego Comic Con. Now mostly known for the big Hollywood panels to promote movies and television projects…they do still feature comic books. We’ll be there to represent “Super Indian” and the Indigenous Narratives Collective.
Work is continuing on Issue #5 — “The Curse of Blud Kwan’Tum.” Many of you have been reading and enjoying the story and the “Twilight” spoof. Believe us — we have been enjoying the writing and art coming out of Rezium Studios. We’ve all got big smiles on our faces here!
Another project that we’ve been working on is the upcoming “Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers.”
At the Denver Comic Con, the Indigenous Narratives Collective’s Executive Director Lee Francis IV made a blow-up of the the cover of “Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers” that’s featured on the cover of “INC’s Universe #0.” We had so many people stop and ask when the book would be out that it was decided the stories should go into production. The project is still coming together, but Arigon Starr has already started work on her portion of the story featuring the Choctaw Code Talkers.
Here’s the original cover of “INC’s Universe #0.” Note the very small graphic of the comic book that the Grandpa is reading to his grand-daughter.
Cover of INC Volume One
Arigon said, “When I was designing the cover art, I knew that Grandpa would be sharing a very special story with his girl — something that might not be the typical horses, buckskin, feathers type of affair. I did make full size art for this, but really had to think ‘small’ because I knew the actual printed image would only be about an inch high.”
Here’s the artwork in a more viewer friendly size.
Tales of the MIghty Code Talkers Cover

Arigon’s Code Talkers story will be a 12-page narrative that will become a part of a bigger volume with stories of the efforts of many different Native tribes’ involvement with the program. “I know it wasn’t just Choctaw men who were in the program. Creeks, Meskwakis, Comanches, Cherokees…their stories have remained untold in comic form,” said Arigon.
Here’s a sneak preview of the artwork Arigon is working on for her Choctaw Code Talker story.
Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers Choctaw

More updates from the San Diego Comic Con very, very soon!

Is the comic ecosystem the next big thing in India?

Is the comic ecosystem the next big thing in India?

“Comic books have the power to transfer you to a fantasy world that is different from the mundane one you are living in, that feeling gives you faith and power,” said a DC Comics enthusiast at the 2015 ComicCon session held in Bangalore this month. For three days, the White Orchid convention centre at Nagavara had become a different universe peopled with comic aficionados, gamers, artists, and authors.
The three-day event had not only biggies like Amar Chitra Katha, Marvel Comics, and DC Comics participating, but also saw Graphic India make its comic con debut with the launch of their graphic novels. Mysore Lakshman Amarnath and Saumesh Suresh Patel’s Kamotsava introduced snappy tittles like Pavitra Paapi and Leo and Capri. “Indian has a vast pool of artists and writers, and over the past few years, it is great to see them on this platform as well,” says Jatin Varma, the organiser of ComicCon India. But does this in any way indicate that the comic industry is the next big thing in startups?
“What is driving the interest of the general population towards comics are the movies that are being released internationally. Many come to buy movie merchandise, whether it is the t-shirts or action figures. And they also discover Indian graphic novels and writers,” says Jatin.
Giving a perspective on the growth of the Indian comic industry, Jatin says that whereas 2011, had only about 10 comics, there are already 20 releases.” Several companies use comics as a medium of marketing and advertising. Anything that puts the focus on comic books just helps the industry and its artists grow says Jatin.”
However, this doesn’t even come close to what a DC or Marvel have. The international giants beat the nascent Indian segment with sheer volume and numbers. But today Indian publishers are working towards increasing their cataloguing and making bigger stalls. “International players beat us by the sheer volume and variety that d variety they have. But we are a growing industry,” says Jatin.
Elaborating further on the growth of the Indian comic book market Sharath says: “We are seeing marco trends happening simultaneously in India, which is giving a push to the comic culture here. A large segment of the audience is below 25, and is digitally connected.Ten years ago, fans were scattered all over, but now they can together, and build a flame from a spark. It is about building a community.”
Sharath believes that what the animation boom and Star Wars did for ComicCon in the US, animation and Indian graphic novels will do for the Indian scene.
Age of mythology
While we owe the increasing awareness and growth of the Indian comic book industry to theinternational film franchises or the digital age, the themes of most of the Indian graphic novels are in Indian mythology. Whether it is Aayumi Productions Kaal, Graphic India’s Devi, or the more recent Kamotsava by Saumesh Suresh Patel, all have mythical themes.
“Indian art is beautiful, Kamotsava has been inspired by temple architecture and erotica, which is a very Indian concept, and I believe we need to play with our strengths,” says Saumesh Suresh Patel. However, the use of mythology in the world of graphic novels and comic culture isn’t a new one. Mythology has always inspired fantasy writers, be it is Thor, Hercules, or Tolkien’s elves.
“India is a store house of stories; we grew up reading and listening to some truly beautiful and amazing stories. The western world of mythology simply cannot compete with what we have in terms of themes and style. And this is an added advantage we are trying to leverage,” adds Sharath.
However, there isn’t a character like a Harry Potter, Batman, or Spiderman in India that anyone across the world can connect to. “That is true, but we believe that the Indian characters can be equally strong and pull in a global audience, it is just about using the right levers,” We also need to reinvent Indian mythical stories he in modern context,” says Sharath.
Adding to this point, a representative of Aayumi productions says: “There already is so much happening in our stories; there is action, drama and sci-fi. It is just about using those as a base and leveraging it into something bigger.”
“The art is simply fantastic, there are some stories that truly look amazing and great, we might look at buying some of these,” two French nationals said, after the screening of Kaal by Aayumi Productions. “The 18 days of Mahabharata, sure looks fascinating,” said another European, after looking at some of the posters by Graphic India.
Initially, it was Korea, China, and Japan leading the charge with their characters, but many artists and publications believe that India can emerge as a challenger.
“I have received great reactions from foreigners when they look at our Mahabharata, it is an epic story and if you leverage that with a graphic advantage you have a winner,”says Sharath.
Comic books or merchandise
While there were several comic artists and upcoming writers, the ComicCon this year was filled with merchandise by LazyNinja, Bewakoof, Hysteria, ElleTee, Chokadi, and many others. “While I would like it to be only about the books, there is this growing demand for merchandise as well,” says Jatin.
Another publisher, who had got Game of Thrones t-shirts and other merchandise along with his books, says:  “People look for both; as publishers we might feel partial towards the books, but we cannot ignore the fact that people want both, and many just want the merchandise.”
“I have grown up reading these comics, and while I love the new Indian comics as well, I love anything that can associate me with my favourite character. So along with the books, if I get action figures, mugs, t-shirts, masks, and key chains as well, I would simply lap up the deal,” says a 26-year-old graphic books enthusiast from Delhi.
“It is about the whole eco-system. If people buy a t-shirt along with the book, it is equally encouraging to the artist and the writer. On the whole, merchandise just happens to be a part of the industry and we simply cannot ignore it,” says Sharath.
There were several artists and writers who were a part of this year’s ComicCon, “Publications like Bflat give artists and writers a platform to showcase their work and even make money out of it,” says a representative at the Bflat Stall. This year even saw the launch of a book by a 12-year-old writer from Hyderabad. “I have been writing since I was in the first grade; it’s nice to see publishers who want to publish my book. While many told me I was too young, there were few who were willing to bet on me and that’s why I am here today,” says the young writer.
The international celebrity push
With Game of Thrones Daniel Portman and Natalia Tena at this year’s ComicCon, several fans went rushing in to catch a glimpse of the actors. The actors never anticipated this kind of volume and fan following and the two were impressed with the artists and writers of the country. “I am completely overwhelmed and the thought that there is a huge fan following and comic culture, all the way here is completely heart-warming,” says Natalia.
The Indian comic ecosystem
While the number of people who attended the ComicCon this year was lesser compared to last year, the buzz isn’t dead. With the growing number of Indian writers, artists, and publications in the scene the market space is poised to grow. “At present, there is no pie; we all are here with just one goal, building a comic culture and ecosystem. We can think of cutting the pie after it has been made,” says Sharath.
“There are many people who have come in and enquired about our books as well, we see them carrying Marvel and DC comics, and yet they pick our books. It is very encouraging” said a graphic artist based out of Bangalore.
“Bangalore is a very open market, most artists and writers know that if something sells and works here, it will work across the country. And while I cannot say that the Indian graphic novels are doing brilliantly well, but they definitely are picking up,” says Jatin.
Many believe feel that this year’s crowd was serious. “There are people here who know things and have probably been reading comics and fantasy novels for ages now, they know their stuff and if they like your work it’s great,” said a young graphic designer from Ahmedabad.
Mysore Lakshman Amarnath the creator of Leo and Capri says: “Comics are picking up like never before now, initially it was restricted to children, now people of all age groups read comic books. There is a level of sophistication that is needed. I wanted to bring the beauty of the 2D comics I grew up reading, so I came up with Leo and Capri, and it’s nice to see positive response around it.”
“The graphic designers have the advantage of the digital age these days. They can compare work and see several different artists and learn, unlike in my time. It is great to see the growth of the Indian comic industry and market. The level is simply brilliant,” concludes Aabid Surti of Bahadur fame.

World War II soldier creates an Indian cartoonist by chance

World War II soldier creates an Indian cartoonist by chance

“Though I was born to a well-off family, my childhood was spent on the pavement, because our family had lost everything,” says Aabid Surti the National Award winning writer, cartoonist, and artist. Awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at ComicCon, India, this year, Aabid is known for creating the well-known Bahadur comic series. He is also a novelist, a playwright, and an environmentalist, running the water preservation campaign – Drop Dead.
World War II and the birth of a cartoonist
It was the India of 1943, and World War II was raging across different continents. The Mumbai dockyard had a train that would go up to VT station, and this train would take soldiers. “We were a group of children who would run with the train. The soldiers would throw chocolates, biscuits, and half-eaten sandwiches; which we kids would pounce on. One day, a soldier was reading a Mickey Mouse comic that he threw at us, and I got a page,” says Aabid.
That was the beginning of a cartoonist. In those days, there were no comic books in the country, and it was something new and different. “Looking at it I thought, this is so easy, I can do this. So I began copying it. I got the technique of using one head as a measurement, and I began making my own cartoon figures,” says Aabid.
People saw his work, and felt that he should sell it. But Aabid had no clue about selling, until a school event showed him the way. Aabid was a boy scout at school and as an activity for ‘Khari Kamayi Din,’ the boys had to earn the food they ate on that day. Recalls Aabid: “The scouts would do jobs like boot polishing, or selling flowers. I thought why not sell my cartoons. The Times of India office was close by, so I walked into the office and went to the editor. I placed my work on his desk and stood quietly. He picked it up and smiled, and I knew that the piece was sold.” Cartooning became a source of income for Aabid.
A broken heart a writer makes
Aabid’s foray into writing began with a broken heart. “I fell in love in college; it was young romance, which was unrequited. Being an introvert, I couldn’t tell anyone anything, so I wrote what I could not express. That is how my first novel, Toote hue Farishte, came about,” says Aabid. He was living in a chawl during those days, and his growing pile of written sheets was being eyed by a kabadiwala. Eventually, Aabid sold the heap of papers to the kabadiwala, who had a link with a publisher, and sold it. The novel was published by Swati Prakash in Hindi and Gujarati.
Soon writing became another mode of income, “During that time I saw it as a means of earning, and it helped me support my art. I realised that anything that was creative came easily to me, so I started concentrating on my creative skills,” says Aabid. Today, he has written over 45 novels, seven plays, and ten short story collections.
Though several magazines and newspapers ran his short stories, it was with Taranga magazine that he did a serialised novel. “The editor was a good friend, and asked me to give him a book that could be published in installments – a story to hook the readers”, says Aabid.
How film-making helped Aabid’s writing journey
To make ends meet, Aabid would do several odd jobs.And one such job was working as a spot boy for film shoots. It suited him as he could attend college and do the job. “One day, an assistant director saw me reading a Subhash Babu book and was surprised. When he learnt that I was a writer, I was made an assistant director. Later, I moved to scriptwriting and then became an editor. It was film editing that helped me understand the flow of story, and the way content needs to pass from one scene to another,” says he.
It is through scriptwriting that Aabid learnt the importanceof hooking the reader in the first ten pages: “This is very true for films. If you can’t hook an audience in the first ten minutes then you have lost them.”
Creation of Bahadur and the world of dacoits
During the Sixties and Seventies, there were hardly any Indian comics or characters, and several publications wanted one. “It was during this time dacoits were big in the country, so I decided to focus on them. I toured around the Chambal area: spoke to victims and tried to understand the modus operandi of the dacoits. I even met some fans of these bandits,” says Aabid.
Elaborating further he says: “The bandits would do small things and win several villagers over. There were stories around this. Through this they would get shelter and food. I did research on why they became dacoits and the reasons were varied, like injustice done by the police and zamidars.”
It was during this phase that Aabid read a book on dacoits by Taroon Kumar Bhaduri, and found the book informative.And this book helped him in creating Bahadur and the CSF.
Talking about the growing comic book industry Aabid says that he is pleased to see the graphic novel culture and the digital advantage of today’s technology. As a parting tip to writers Aabid says: “Learn  from script writing about how to hook the audience soon.”

Wham! Bam! Kapow! Comics Ahoy

Wham! Bam! Kapow! Comics Ahoy!

What would the world be without comics, manga and anime? Pretty boring we would say! They have shaped cultures, traits and been a source of entertainment for decades. Here at OnePlus, we love all things fictional or otherwise, people in “tights” and crazy powers! We recently had the opportunity to mingle with our fans at the popular comic convention extravaganza, Comic Con, held in the Silicon Valley of India from April 3 – 5, 2015 and were thrilled at having indulged in some pop-art extravaganza!
IMG_20150404_130634 2
May the Force be with OnePlus
Today, we list down some of the popular comic apps on the Google Store developed and conceived in India to be experienced on your OnePlus device :
Raj Comics : From the stables of Raja Pocket Books, the largest comic book distributor and publisher in India comes Raj Comics App, said to be home to around 5000+ titles. From Nagraj to Gagan and Bhokal to Bankelal, you can read about all your favourite characters with a flick of your finger anytime, anywhere!
Vimanika Comics : Indian history is steeped in mythology. The founders behind Vimanika hope to transcend geographical boundaries and culture by making their comic books and characters accessible to graphic novel lovers around the globe. Read about mythical characters like Karna, Hanuman, Shiva and more by downloading their app from the Google Play Store.
Honourable Mentions
ACK Comics : We have all grown up reading the “Amar Chitra Katha” series, one of the biggest storytellers created by Uncle Pai which involved traditional Indian folk tales, mythological stories and biographies of historical characters. Earlier last year, the company launched ‘ACK Comics’, their official digital comic app through which readers can access over 300 titles from the digital store. Do note that the app can presently be accessed via Android Tablet devices only.
Graphic India : The company was conceived as a character entertainment company focused on creating leading characters, comics and stories through mobile and digital platforms. Their popular comic series include Ramayan 3392 AD, The Leaves, The Sadhu, Devi and Chakra The Invincible to name a few. Sharad Devarajan, CEO of Graphic India recently hinted at launching “fully immersive” apps with e-book and video components built right in, to be developed on the Android platform first. Stay tuned!
Liked what you see? Did we miss anyone? Connect app developers and publishers with us and we just might feature them in one of our future posts!
- See more at: