Following Conventions

A Comic Con is about to happen in India. You may ask “Yeh Comic Con Kaun?” though I don’t think you will. I will tell you either way.

A gathering of writers, illustrators, publishers and readers of comics, at a large venue, with a sufficiently informal atmosphere (that’s important) – say like the Jaipur Literature Festival is to books.

I had heard of this event, funnily enough in some comics themselves. It became such an uncanny experience, that of seeing fictional comics characters interacting with real comics creators and being told how they made these comics. Talk of existential crisis! Move over Pirandello. Readers of Tinkle in India might remember a similar story where a busload of familiar characters visit the Tinkle office in Mumbai.

What became clear even then was that this is where the audience gets to meet the creators, and this is where the audience comes as their favourite characters.

The chance to meet so many practitioners of this medium is really the carrot. Meet the parents of your dear fictional friends, all. See the people who are celebrities to avid readers. Really, why would a comics-lover want to pass that up? And it works both ways, since it allows each side (the producers and the consumers) to reach out to the other. And since it isn’t dedicated to any one person, the atmosphere remains art-centric.

According to me, comics exude a closeness between the creator and the reader like no other. The creators work largely alone, without many magazines wanting to interview them, without a team that assists you. The reader doesn’t go to a large theatre, they don’t discuss them in reading groups.

And that’s good, in a way.

But it is important to get out of home once in a while, and what’s better than a sunny February weekend? Everything that is not benefit-driven requires a culture that values it, and it is the same for comics. It is probably no surprise that the sharp rise in comics production and studies came together with the rise of Comic Conventions in the USA, Japan and Europe in the 1970’s.

It is the same here, since comics are seeing a re-birth in India. It works perfectly for me, being at the right place at the right time, to get to know more about the talent and plans of the practitioners in India.

And yes, I look forward to the costumes, to the book signings, the workshops, talks, releases, awards, and everything else that is a part of this culture, because I am a part of it too.

Indian Comic Con

19th-20th February 2011

Dilli Haat

New Delhi

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