The heroes are handsome and muscular; the women are ethereal and curvy; the settings are grand and the action is graphic, a la Frank Miller style.
No, I am not talking about just another graphic novel with foreign characters, but an Indian one narrating stories that are rooted in our culture and hearts.
Vimanika, a two-year-old publishing house, specialises in bringing the tales of Indian mythological heroes in comic and graphic novel formats. Headed by young entrepreneur Karan Vir Arora, the Managing Director and Editor in Chief of the firm, Vimanika satisfied the market's need for indigenous products and stories.
In a chat with NXg Karan talks about his passion to promote Indian mythology, the comics and graphic novel market and how his age is in fact an advantage in this industry.
Karan who was a marketing professional, a certified Personality development trainer and now an entrepreneur, is surprisingly a Std X pushout. “I used my street-smart marketing skill,” says Karan who gave up the safety of a family business to start one on his own.
But why choose comics based on mythology to bet your professional future on? “I have a connection with mythology. It's in my blood. A lot of bedtime stories was read to me including the Lord of the Rings when I was small, by different people. Slowly I got curious and that curiosity got the best of me. When I was about 18, I started researching on mythology till I was 25 years old.”
His insight into the subject kindled in him a desire to make a movie based on mythology. But owing to lack of funds and experience, Karan settled for a different medium to tell his stories. “Comics based on Indian mythology are popular abroad. And I thought, if they can do it, why not I sitting in India take up the same job. This way I can save time, money and also present my stories in a cinematic fashion to the readers?”
Vimanika has so far come out with two titles — The Sixth: Legend of Karna and Moksha. The former narrates the story of the unsung hero of Mahabaratha — Karna, which runs parallel with a story of the return of Karna as a business tycoon in present times.
The latter deals with the interaction of the mythological characters Hanuman and Parashuram in settings that are familiar to today's readers. That's Vimanika's USP — contemporising mythology so that the readers can relate to the characters, the situations so that the values that they teach do not sound preachy or out-dated. “It's like a revival of values.”
“Those values can work even today. References from the Gita (Bhagavad Gita) are used in corporate training. Even in the West people are looking to our roots, culture in a big way,” points out Karan. Vimanika's latest releases are the Dashaavatar and Volume three of Moksha: The White Tiger and the Gift.
Vimanika has won the Golden Cursor CNBC TV 18 and animation awards for the Best Comics in 2009 and its founder/director Karan won the ‘Best Young Entrepreneur' award at the Third Indira International Summit in February this year.
Karan who is involved with the scripting and designing of these graphic novels and comics, along with a team of award-winning artists and editors, feels that even though there is a huge scope for comic books in India, people here lack the knowledge of the industry. “Books are a huge market. They are a source of education and entertainment,” says
Karan who is planning on producing an animated series or a full-length feature film on the legend of Karna. Talks are also on for making the comics available as digital downloads and web comics. (For more news on that log on to: www.vimanika.com)
For somebody who runs a business whose products are successful not only in India but abroad as well, age has not been a problem, says this 28-year-old. “On the contrary, people only get inspired by me. And dealing with a product that is considered young and cool it helps being one too,” he shares.
“It's always good to start young.” And Karan serves as a successful example of his statement.