Comic Con India 2014

February 7, 2014. It is a day that will forever live in infamy. At least it will for me. The 4th annual Comic Con in Delhi began with such promise, and it ended in surprised disgruntlement. There is no reason this should have been, we had industry legends coming down to partake in the festivities, we had promises of 15 winners for Cosplay thus ensuring a more than healthy turnout of decked out people, we had professional Japanese cosplayers, and we had the promise of oodles of comics to whet our hungry eyes. We had Comic Con! But, after the 7th, I will never again be as excited as I was about an Indian Con.

All the elements were there, but something was still missing. Something not so intangible, and yet infinitely fleeting. Being an editor at Campfire graphic Novels meant that I was anchored to our stall most of the time, and getting on stage a few times at our launches of Magical Animals and World War One 1914-1918, but that didn’t stop me from exploring the rest of the massive venue. Comics! And action figures! Installations! A gaming hub! Comics again! T-shirts! Posters! Mugs! Fridge magnets! Ohhh! COMICS!!! Then wallets! Anime figurines! Dolls! Plushies! And then I stopped thinking in exclamation marks as I noticed that there were maybe 7 stalls in all that had books. And then my brain broke. Whut?!

Smaller publishers and independent comic creators were almost sidelined as they were relegated to dinky little booths that were engulfed by the massive tidal wave of merchandise that flooded the halls. They could not even begin to compete with the bling of the real sellers at these cons, the plethora of knick knacks that people consume at an almost unholy rate. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff as well. 14 inch statue of Batman, oh hell yes. Pirate Hunter Zoro T-shirt, most def! 300 sword and helmet key chain, shut up and take my money! But, and this is a but that would give Jabba The Hutt some serious competition, all this is secondary.

What is the essence of a comic con? Is it the bright-eyed fans clutching their new acquisitions? Maybe it’s that heady smell that is left after 9 hours of people tramping through the area, a potent mixture of sweat, leather, plastic, pulp, expensive food, burnt money and body paint? There are many flavours that make the tapestry of a comic con. But paramount, one would think, would be the books. The comics, the characters and their creators. And at times, I was struck by how many people were buying books, it was great to see so many people diving into new realms of existence, but at the same tie I was disappointed that most people don’t really venture into newer territories, but try stalwart routes. And those people that were buying books were outgunned by the many of the Merchandise.

I realise that if I keep griping, someone might get the idea that I didn’t enjoy myself. Not only would they be incorrect, but thems be fighting words! For how else can I not stay optimistic, and hope for a better day, a better dawn, a greater Con. Not the shady meaning of the word either, mind you. It’s just that this was a con where Mark Waid, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon get audiences of 50-75 people, 30 of them actually listening to words and nodding, laughing at little jokes; and an AXN event showcasing the screenshots from all the seasons of Sherlock got a gazillion people, a crowd that made crossing 20 feet take ten minutes, hooting and hollering their lungs out. And people might say that this is a con like any other. Then I ask them, what is a Con? There, not so easy is it.
Also, David Lloyd charges 600 for a sketch! Whut?!