The mighty roar of indian comics
In a society that is yet to rise above its grievances of basic needs, an “Iron Man” is still a distant dream.
In a society that is yet to rise above its grievances of basic needs, an “Iron Man” is still a distant dream. Rewind to the era where every child owned a ‘Chacha Chaudhary’ and revelled in the adventures of this brainy old man and his compatriot, Sabu; throwback to ‘Shikari Shambhu’ and his rotund wife, Shanti, with a rolling pin, compulsively in hand, to whack her hubby; ‘Indrajal Comics’ contained ‘The Phantom Stories’, ‘Mandrake’, and later, Aabid Surti’s ‘Bahadur’, an Indian hero - “The ones still going strong have embraced the digital age," shares Nittal Chandarana, an avid reader.
‘Amar Chitra Katha’ (ACK), established in 1967 by Anant Pai was started with a view of acquainting youth with mythology native to the country. ‘Tinkle’, an offshoot of ACK, did brilliantly, too. With titles like ‘Fauladi Singh’, ‘Shaktiman’ and a host of international names, it is still doing incredibly well. ‘Nagraj’, ‘Super Commando Dhruva’, ‘Doga’… there is so much to catch up.
Cut to present, the number of superhero comics from India is unbelievable. The recently concluded Hyderabad Comic Con had launches of titles like ‘Fanboys’ by Abhijeet Kini Studios, ‘Aghori - The Lost Years’ by Holy Cow Entertainment, ‘Damned’ by Chariot Comics, ‘Rakshak’ by Yali Dream Creations, ‘Merjella - The Super Mermaid’ by Dream blooms Media, ‘Sirji Comics - Volume 2’ by Sirji Comics, ‘13 Days and Sagar’ by TBS Planet.
Commenting about the trend, Vivek Goel, the illustrator of Aghori and founder of Holy Cow Entertainments (HCE), shares, “The scenario is changing and improving for good. Now, there are takers to superhero genres in Indian comics. And venues like ‘Comic Con’ are places where these changes happen.”
‘Aghori’ revolves around the journey of an ordinary man Vikram Roy, who sets out to discover reasons behind the night his life turned into a nightmare. He leaves behind a world that was familiar and embraces a life of hardships in the Himalayas, and returns to his old life after twelve years as an Aghori – Vira.
“In last three editions, we completed two story arcs: Origin and Bloodlines, and released 13 issues in the Aghori series. ‘The Aghori Annual’ will be the beginning of the third story arc of the series: ‘The Age of Immortals’. It will be a mega 20-issue crossover featuring cameos from all characters, therefore connecting the entire series and forming the ‘HCEverse’,” says the author.
“The building of HCEverse will start with ‘Aghori Annual: The Lost Years’, which will come in two parts. The ‘Aghori Annual’ will fill up the huge gap of Roy’s process of becoming an Aghori,” he adds. Goel has teamed up with multiple writers and artistes to bring the stories of the lost years, which transformed Vikram Roy into the Aghori: Vira.
HCE is also introducing a new character, ‘Shaitan’ in a series with the same name. This is based on an Indian Black Ops, the British Raj, Freedom Struggle and includes elements from the death of Subash Chandra Bose.
“In the coming issues, we are planning to have multiple crossovers, like Marvel’s MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and that’s why we call it HCEverse. And all major characters- Aghori, Desh, Shaitan - will appear in the storyline, fighting each other; together against bigger threats.”
There are others like HCE, which tap on historical plots, mythology, creating numerous intriguing characters. This brings us to a common point; the future of Indian comic books is bright, indeed.
By Augustin Kurian