Comic Conned

Go to the Comic Con they said. It will be fun they said. And of course, all for the love of comics, I decided to believe them

Driving towards the Koramangala Stadium one not so pleasant afternoon, I sat in a car fiddling with a part of a cosplay. Obviously happy about getting free entry into an awesome world of geekdom, when I reached, I was not prepared to see the scores of giggly women standing around, accompanied by even gigglier men (if that could even be possible) waiting to get a taste of the awesome union of geeks.

And of course, there was a dress code for these people. “Apparently the self-assumed license to attend comic con was to wear a Superman or Batman tee and nerd glasses,” states Kunwarbir Singh, a Bangalore based working professional and of course, one of the unfortunates present at the Con. And wrong he was not.

Cotton, cotton everywhere!

Disorder was the order of the day – packed in an overcrowded stadium with confused souls and no signs of relief of any sort, let alone comic, it didn’t take us long to realise that the star attractions of the day were: buying t-shirts and posing with anyone who flaunted anything that remotely resembled a costume. It didn’t matter if it was an elaborate costume or a flapping piece of limp paper.

Along with only one entry and exit to the con, a thoroughly confused MC, disgruntled fans, and a persistent stench, the biggest disappointment for people who went to the Comic Con in search of reading material were of course the scores of t-shirt shops that lined the auditorium. If you looked really hard, you could perhaps find a thing or two hidden behind prints that screamed out movies, television and everything but comics in the large BADABOOM font (not quite literally, no). Exactly what Manoj A Menon very aptly doodled!

With so much to complain about, Manta Ray co-founder Pratheek Thomas summed up the whole experience accurately for us in just a few lines. “I was expecting this. This is almost like the last Comic Con, though there were a few more comic publishers back then. This time,  comics became a niche within the ‘Comic’ Con itself. I completely understand that this has to be financially viable for the organizers, and many visitors come in because of the merchandise, which gives small comic publishers like us some visibility. However, what I felt lacking was the infrastructure – clean bathrooms, decent, edible food, better ventilation, and a good audio system (everything said on the stage was drowned in echoes). From a comics’ perspective, there has to be a better way to showcase them – like panel discussions, or one-on-one interactions, meeting the creators, or actual comic-making workshops, which could happen on the side-lines of the event.”

Comic Con Bangalore

But not all was lost at the Comic Con. They say, every cloud has a silver lining and for us, it was in form of a few books that we spotted when we could manage to squeeze ourselves past the gaps and the sweat drenched faceless bodies. Foraying into India’s coming of age in the world of comics and graphic novels, it was pleasantly surprising to realise that some promises of delivery were being duly fulfilled.

Manta Ray’s “Twelve Preludes”, a collection of twelve stories about twelve individuals all tied by the common vein of choice was a brilliant showcase of talent in both artwork and storytelling; Holy Cow Entertainment’s “Aghori Book#3” traced Vira’s journey down to hell with some impeccable artwork and a captivating story to match; Campfire Publishing’s “Julius Caesar” proved to us that the whole idea of adapting an adapter can be done just right in capable hands and it isn’t only about getting the speech balloons placed right and Antirax Media’s “The Caravan” also seemed to be intriguing with hushed whispers about it being inspired by ‘From Dawn to Dusk’ and paying homage to the Ramsay B-grade horror flicks in the spirit of Bollywood. A blast from the past, ‘Shikari Shambhu’ was also spotted among the new releases of the year.

But when hopes have been raised high and when expectations start to form, it is a sad affair to realise that most of the promises made were fake. It was an awkward moment similar to the one the pirates face each time they see the little Gaulish ship sailing away into the horizon, their own sinking. We knew this would happen. We were there last year as well. But what we didn’t prepare ourselves for was the utter commotion and unbearable over-enthusiasm that was called the Comic Con.