Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Indore and Comic Con, New Delhi

For the past 11 months I kept hatching a weekend escape from the everyday schedule. Honestly speaking, I had planned to keep my bags on wheels for a good amount of time last year but oddly the wheels never moved and my getaway playlist just kept me hoping. But, going to my friend Somany's wedding came as a pleasant excuse. Finally, the sweaters and jackets were out for some February winter of Indore. 

The cab ride from the airport to Nakhraali Dhaani (resort) gave a glimpse of Indore morning and the one thing that caught my eye was the word 'mishthaan' (मिष्ठान) and 'bhandaar' (भण्डार). It really added a homely touch to see Hindi signboards hanging all around. On reaching Nakhraali Dhaani I took a small tour of the resort and to my amazement found a humble water park, disco hall, video game parlour, toy train ride, camel ride, horse ride, goat cart ride etc. It also had open stage areas which in the evening were taken by magicians, acrobats, puppeteers etc. to entertain the crowd. I with my friends made a point to visit the disco hall only to give it up as we saw the hall packed with only the men pumping their cylinders on 'Bodyguard' soundtrack. Some had even picked up the cricket bat and stumps as props.

The food was pretty good there and you just had to give up your small plate meal idea when the people serving the meal would ask you to dig in for some more on the name of your sethaani (सेठानी). 


The acrobat putting his act during the evening open stage performance.
The wedding preparations taking place.




















































The wedding took place pretty well except for the part when the pundit went missing for a while. I had a good time there meeting friends, doing a cameo at the sangeet and exploring the weekend life of Nakhraali Dhani. 


New Delhi hosted the second Comic Con India and had invited the legendary Robert Crumb, Chris Oliveros (founder of drawn and Quarterly) and Gary Groth (founder and co-publisher of Fantagraphic Books). I was sent by my office to look after the Brainwave needs at The Amar Chitra Katha stall. The Comic Con had many familiar faces, some known from the time I was working on my personal graphic novel and the rest met over the editing days of Comix.India volume 4. Overall the work featured was mostly superhero comics milked on the Indian myths (just spiced with photoshop brushes). Sorry, but I have had enough of the same myths mashed and overlapped with other existing myths. I don't mind good adaptation but they are pretty rare. Although I understand that such comic conventions in Indian market can breathe only on the funds of big shots like Marvel, Disney etc. but an aggressive marketing repulses me. There were some good publications from Blaft, Comics Power.  Stalls of Libera Artisiti and Manta Ray gave a good relief in terms of visual style. 

Moving on to the talks for the three evenings, I did enjoy those sessions. Chris Oliveros spoke on the first day about how he started Drawn and Quarterly in 1989. 
Chris Oliveros























Chris spoke at length about the various artist they worked with and what gem each of the artist had in their work. Seth, Joe Sacco, Damniel Clowes, Charles Burns, Moomin, Chester Brown, Tom Gauld, Yoshiro Tatsumi etc. I met him after the talk and gave him my only copy of my book (The Remembrance of Loss)asking for some feedback on it. In return he gifted me a copy of 'Jinchalo' by Matt Forsythe and a copy of 'Pyongyang' by Guy Delisle. :)

The second evening's guest Gary Groth talked about his struggle in the 70s to keep the comic journal going on. He used to work as a typist for paying the bills and moonlight as editor. His work and intent was to let the underground comics grow thick and around where Marvel and DC were generating pulp readership. He shared work from Arcade magazine , the comics journal, Harvey Kurtzman, Wally Wood and many more. Another very important piece of information he shared is that the DC and Marvel comics market is slowly getting low and the movies are main source of revenue that is driving these companies.
Gary Groth























And here is the star of the show, Mr. Crumb. The old man walked the stage in his lanky figure and sung too for a while during mic checks. He started from his childhood days when he carried on with his brother Charles Crumb's passion towards comics and how it was his refugee from the football playing calls. Obsessed with sexuality and slowly getting into LSD with a very dedicated approach to drawing his work opened new realms in underground comics. Frtiz the Cat, Weirdo, Keep on Truckin', Janis Joplin album covers and the plenty of independent comic strips were suffixing his legacy very well. Except for his last work - 'The Book of Genesis', which he himself was not very sure why he drew apart from the monetary gains. Well, the talk opened many doors on his life, family, work, obsessions, music and suicide plans. You just had to be there to take it all. 
Robert Crumb





Thanks to Mr. Vijay Jodha for clicking this one.

I did a quick sketch of him which he happily enriched with putting his speech bubbles. Yes, Robert Crumb wrote in my book :) 


All the three evening sessions have left me wanting to get back to my book as soon as I can. It is one thing that I can't get rid off with every single passing day. For now, I am back in Bangalore after Kingfisher decided not to mess with the flight schedule. Did a few sketches on the airport and at Samia's place to keep myself going and getting ready for the drawing desk.
Theo, the hyperactive pup at Samia's place





Well, this one has turned out to be a long post. There is a Bombay trip lined up for the month end. Finally, the travel bag wheels are moving.

2 comments:

  1. That was an enjoyable post to go through. Great things happening in Delhi! Love the sketches too especially the one of Charles Crumb.

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    1. Thanks Priya. Ya, I wish such things take place in Bangalore too apart from the regular concerts.
      The sketch is actually done of Robert Crumb. I was taking notes too while sketching him. Charles Crumb is the brother of Robert Crumb .

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