I must have come across as a hick when it came to public light that I wasn’t aware of Level 10 Comics. They are all the Rabhas it seems (Rabhas = Rage in Sanskrit, the relevance of the choice of word will only be evident to readers of their magazine).
Level 10 Comics, of Bangalore, have started a comics magazine called “Comic Jump” a few months ago. It is a monthly and has 7 issues so far. They carry 3 serialised stories, all with their own team of creatives and fan followings.
But, “Comic Jump”? What does that even mean? It seems to be a shout back at Weekly Shōnen Jump, which is one of Japan’s favourite comics magazine. But it seems an odd choice of name given that they don’t follow manga sensibilities except on their cover/poster art and some rare pages. It does give them an energetic vibe and a chance for the name to become iconic because of its sheer pseudo-jargon sound.
But it does indeed jump, because it is Indian comics like I have rarely seen. It is a world-class production. The art is like one will see in the newest DC-Marvel titles, and the script is refreshingly capable of sounding Gen-X/Y/Z, whatever it is now.
I was lucky to get introduced to the magazine when I did because I swooped in and bought the collected first 5 issues as a box set, which meant I didn’t have to wait in agony for a new issue every month. The first story arcs of “Shaurya”, “The Rabhas Incident” and “Northern Song” were completed over 2 days, and I am safely hooked to it all (though more to some than the others). I must give credit where it is due to the duo of Shreyas Srinivas – Suhas Sundar who bring out this magazine every month and also write some of the features. Starting and sustaining something so new is never easy.
I do get some vibes, though, that some of the fans of this comics magazine feel that Comic Jump is the only good Indian comics magazine around. Maybe this is because the stories are like the popular ones in the West (zombies, teen superheroes), or because the artwork is in the mould of the DC-Marvel schools, or because it is in good English (though editing errors abound). One fan wrote in saying that “An Indian comic is pretty good news in itself”, which made me grimace a little. It would seem that comics are not recognized in unfamiliar forms. I agree that it is one of the best I have seen, but it often lacks in originality. And as long as that is there, it will always aspire to stand apart. I cannot offer a solution, originality is something I have been seeking in my own life and every time I feel I have come close it darts out of my reach. So when I haven’t found it in over two decades, I cannot blame someone for not finding it once every month.
The true Jump will come. And it will come after a long run-up. Indian comics readers needed a splatteringly good zombie story, a good-looking bunch of superheroes in Mumbai, and a good medieval hero story. This is the need that has been fulfilled here.
Some glimpses below (photographs, so please excuse the quality)- Shaurya (note the NY-ish Mumbai skyline), Northern Song and The Rabhas Incident