There was a huge participation from publishers at the Comic Con, but it could have been organised better

This year’s Comic Con, held at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium over the last weekend, evoked mixed responses. Better in some respects, and worse in others. Better, because there was a lot more participation from publishers, merchandisers, illustrators, and writers alike. It was worse, because the venue was too small to accommodate the thousands of Bangaloreans who came in droves, jostling and pushing and enthusiastically, checking out every stall, clicking pictures with every dressed up comic character from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Shaolin monks and Scooby-Doo.

These were the best parts about the Bangalore Comic Con 2013.

Comics

There were quite a number of comic stalls, by both well-known and emerging names. Scholastics India had a range of comics for children and young adults. Campfire Graphic Novels offered original, classics, mythology. Leaping Windows, HarperCollins India, DC comics (Random House India), Marvel Comics (Hachette India), ACK Media, the house of Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle Magazine, Manta Ray comics, and Sufi Comics had huge, attractive stalls to which both adults and kids flocked. Cinebook UK publishers was another interesting stall. The manager of the stall, Jerome Saincantin explained about their comics: “We take the best of French and Belgian comics and translated them to English. Both countries have a rich tradition of comics. Among the most popular comics are Lucky Luke versus The Pinkertons, Iznogoud, among others.

Food

Café Dhiskyon served some yum vada pavs. A start up eatery in Bangalore, Café Dhiskyon serves authentic Maharashtrian cuisine in fast food form. “We want to make the vada pav an answer to the burger. I believe we will succeed,” says the owner.

Celebrity touch

While walking around, we found that a large crowd full of excited girls (and some guys) taking photographs had besieged Myntra’s Kook and Keech stalls. There was actor Kunal Kapoor. “I have been a comic and graphic novel fan for years and I have been following the Comic Con for the last few years.When I came to know it was happening in Bangalore, I had to come down and see what it’s all about,” he said.

What does he love about it? “It’s great to see so many titles and like-minded people under one roof. In the west the Comic Con is huge. It is also a place where lots of people launch their comics and interact with readers. It’s really big and interesting and I hope it goes there as well.

Any favourites? “Kook and Keech is really nice. Their posters and their art is great, their t-shirts are fantastic. Some stalls have comics, like the Hindi Phantom, which I haven’t seen in a long time.

Unusual Stalls

Though there were so many stalls, that it was easy to almost get lost in the sea of merchandise, there were some stalls that stood out. One of the most interesting ones was the vintage comics stall selling old Indrajaal, Champak and Diamond comics in Hindi. There was also the ‘I Wear Me’ stall selling organic fair trade cotton t-shirts carrying abstract, cool motifs in funky shapes. Another great stall, Collectors Heritage, was selling all kinds of memorabilia from fantasy series including the One Ring from Lord of the Rings, Wolverine’s claws, the sword of General Maximus, swords from films such as 300 and Lord of the Rings, even Harry Potter glasses. The Mario Gallery was a nice corner dedicated to the celebrated Indian cartoonist, selling everything from little books to framed cartoon sketches and mugs. Madhuvanthi Mohan’s Something Sketchy had some unique stationery, brightly-coloured posters, pouches and notepads.

Merchandise

Apart from an extensive collection of comic books from pretty much every comic publisher in the country, the Comic Con also had an extensive collection of colourful merchandise, from t-shirts, mugs, toys and collectables, cushions, coasters, magnets, posters to memorabilia. The Hysteria store was full of epic movie and superhero stuff, everything from little art cards to framed posters of cult movies like Pulp Fiction, Star Wars and Django Unchained to superhero/fantasy masks , superhero t-shirts and superhero toys (with wobbly heads too). The Lazy Ninja stall had some interesting t-shirts with captions from sitcoms, right from Joey’s eponymous How You Doin’ (Friends) to Sheldon’s ‘That’s my spot’ (Big Bang Theory). Apart from popular pop culture merchandise, there were lots of bright, desi pop culture merchandise. The Chumbak store had with everything from moustache-motifed t-shirts, funky neck pillows, mugs, shorts, tins and laptop covers.

Turnout

Even before the Comic Con started, it was decided that Bangalore will have its very own annual Comic Con. But wait till you hear the figures. This time, according Jatin Varma, Comic Con India Founder, there were over 62,000 footfalls. The figures have more than doubled this time, he excitedly reveals.

“This is almost the turnout of an IPL match. The Comic Con has grown beyond my wildest dreams. This kind of growth is phenomenal for one year. No doubt we will move to a bigger venue next time and we will come back, better organized, in a bigger way. I have been to a couple of Comic Cons abroad, but Bangalore has the best audience. I’m in love with them.”

Launches

This year’s Comic Con saw many launches of increasingly popular young, Indian publishers like Holy Cow, which released the third book in the Aghori series, this time with new characters. The finale, Holy Cow said, would be released in august. But they promised Aghori would be back next year. Campfire Graphic Novels launched their graphic novel Julius Caesar. Aadi, editor with Campfire Graphic Novels, made a dramatic entry dressed as a Roman lord. The launch began with a bang with visuals from the graphic novel displayed while Aadi interacted with the audience. For Julius Caesar, Campfire Graphic Novels, simplified the language and ensured the illustrations and art work are visually stunning, staying true to Will Einser’s philosophy of “speed of sight”. “The sense of setting is almost like a movie, instead of being only a spectator, you are also a participant,” says Aadi. There was also the launch of two of Manta Ray’s comics.