Comic book artist and writer, Anupam Sinha, talks about his debut fantasy novel

When the little kid casually picked up his first Nagraj comic back in the 80’s little did he know more than 20 years later, he and countless other fans like him, would still be lingering in the creator’s mind. Anupam Sinha, the man behind Raj Comics and its beloved superheroes, Nagraj and Super Commando Dhruva, has released his first fiction novel The Virtuals, dedicated to his now grown up fans.

On his first book, Anupam distinctly steers clear of super-heroes. But apparently, you can take the man out of the super-hero but you cannot take the super-hero out of the man. Peat, the protagonist, is young, embarking on a journey and has a lot of enemies to face, namely the divided Gods or Virtuals as Anupam likes to call them. “It is like Artemis Fowl or even Harry Potter but in the Indian context,” reveals Anupam.

Growing up reading mythology – Greek, Roman as well as Indian, the Gods became revered for Anupam. Anupam, unwilling to disturb the mythological Gods, says, “I created my own Gods. So it became important that I infuse it with fragments of history to have a parallel storyline. In the same context, the ‘Monk’ can be compared to ‘Indra’, the King of Gods. They both indulge in mischief sometimes and also own the Kingdom of Heaven.

However he is quick to point out that The Virtuals is not just about mythology or science fiction. A blend of philosophy and fantasy is how he sees it. But a major part of the book is based on events happening in dreams or at sub-conscious level. In a post-Inception era, doesn’t he run the risk of being typecast? “When I was writing the book, the dream sequence was supposed to be just a small part. When Inception was released I had already written the sequence. But readers connected to it as a novel in a dream world. So basically, it became a story of the Virtuals, entering your sub-conscious to understand your thoughts and wishes. And truth be told, I had to watch Inception three times to understand it!” laughs Anupam.

He takes care though, to tread the fine line of not projecting his comic book heroes onto his protagonist. Even though, Peat and Dhruva have a few similarities both being orphans with no special abilities, Anupam is quick to point out that their characters are polar opposites. While Dhruva has always been a family man with strong attachments, Anupam creates Peat as a lonely, unsure young man. On the storyline itself, Anupam muses, “Every action is a collective effort of external actions. The television, news, media and even education teaches us to behave in certain ways. So whatever we do, is just a cumulative of all this. That is what I wanted to show – how we wish for something is actually because of our interpretation of data that has been put into us. And that is how our dreams and consciences are shaped up.”

Excited about his next book in the series, The Omni, Anupam calls it an extension of The Virtuals. “It is going to explore the negative side of the Virtuals, the Gods using their power for their own gains. These is a new breed of Virtuals which affects living entities, like we see possessed people or people who hear things,” signs off Anupam.

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