Mumbai Comic Con returns with a bang; exhibitors and fans leave with a smile on their face

Comic Con India marked its 10-year anniversary with an extremely successful return post-pandemic starting with Bengaluru in November 2022, followed by Delhi in December and finally in Mumbai. The recently concluded Mumbai Comic Con which took place on 11 and 12 February witnessed a huge turnout of fans, comic artists, publishers, creators, exhibitors and others.

Unlike its previous editions, this year the pop culture convention was held in a brand new location at the Jio World Convention Centre, Bandra which received mostly positive feedback from everyone. Many opined that though the space felt a bit too crowded and small compared to the earlier venue (NESCO, Goregaon), the new space gave more of an international feel and had better internet connectivity.

Be it comic book, gaming, anime, manga, cosplay enthusiasts, or a curious attendee, there was something or the other for everyone. The event witnessed special book launch sessions by publishers such as Bakarmax, Bullseye Press, Yali Dream Creations, Abhijeet Kini Studios, River Comics, Cinemic, Endwars, Sufi Comics, and Half and One Comics. Along with the book releases, there was stand-up comedy, music performance, and let’s not forget the Cosplay competition. Fans could also meet international comic artists such as Dan Parent and Yanick Paquette at the con along with international pro cosplayer Taryn. 

Like every year, people were flocking the merchandise stalls and the various experiential zones created by Meta, Maruti Suzuki, audible, Crunchyroll etc. While Warner Bros. was promoting its movies like Shazam 2, Barbie, along with Cartoon Network characters, we also witnessed Marvel promoting Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

As for the gaming enthusiasts, they were seen exploring the various gadgets and games offered at the Lenovo, Intel, Microsoft, Logitech booths. Like every year, we could see people grooving to Ubisoft’s Just Dance game.

Coming back to comic book publishers, the con observed a massive stall by Raj Comics followed by Amar Chitra Katha. Be it indie comic book publishers or established ones, all were happy with the turnout and the reception. Some of the publishers even managed to sell out 60 – 75 per cent of their stock on the first day of the Mumbai Comic Con itself. 

Here’s what the industry has to say:

Abhijeet Kini Studios founder Abhijeet Kini said, “Mumbai Comic Con is much better for us than Delhi one and the crowd response that we got here, both for merchandise and comic books, was good. We sold out a few titles on the first day itself. We also launched a collected edition of Bombay Rhymes.” 

Known for Archie comics, artist Dan Parent said, “For me all the Indian Comic Cons have always been great. The Mumbai Comic Con in the new convention centre has been bustling.”

Talking about the adaptation of Archie into an Indian live-action project directed by Zoya Akhtar, he said that he is creating promotional artwork for it where Indian characters will be incorporated.

Holy Cow Entertainment founder Vivek Goel said, “While the Mumbai Comic Con was good in terms of crowd and venue as it has good connectivity, Bengaluru was great as 75 per cent of our stock got sold out on the first day itself.” He shared another exciting news that their latest title The Last Asuran has been optioned and may soon get a live-action treatment.

Bullseye Press publisher Ravi Ahuja said, “We received a good reception from the crowd in Mumbai just like Bengaluru as opposed to Delhi because it was a three-day event making it slow-going.” Talking about his company’s sales, he said that after Covid-19 their sales graph is going up on a daily basis as opposed to their expectations and he also mentioned that people are more appreciative of art.

First-time attendee at Comic Con India, Happy Fluff Comics illustrator Akshara Ashok said, “It has been an amazing experience for me. Mumbai and Bengaluru were good but Delhi was a bit disappointing in terms of crowd.” Talking about the kind of content Happy Fluff offers and future plans she said that at the moment they have funny comics but they are venturing into creating comics based on serious topics like mental health, sex education and others.

Sufi Comics co-founder and creative director Mohammad Ali Vakil shared, “Mumbai has been good, we sold out almost 80-90 per cent of our stock on day one. There’s a difference between the Mumbai and Bengaluru crowd but it turned out well as per our expectations.”

Acid Toad graphic artist Gaurav Basu said, “It has been a great experience at Mumbai Comic Con but Bengaluru Comic Con was crazy.” Talking about his work he said that although doing illustration is his side gig, he has commercially worked for other comic creators and now he is in the process of creating his own comic which should be released in a year from now. 

Corporat Comics creator Shubham Khurana commented, “We had a good experience in Mumbai Comic Con and the people here are buying our newly launched calendar which we first introduced at Bengaluru Comic Con. I have been a part of previous Comic Cons as well and I observed and found genuine and much-informed people in Mumbai and Bengaluru who know about comics and art, and it’s the same this time around.” Talking about other plans, he revealed that they are currently working on two games which they will be launching soon and apart from that the publisher is also planning to launch an anthology comic in the coming year.

Among all the fun and chaos, the Mumbai Comic Con was a memorable experience for many attendees and it was also good sales-wise for the exhibitors. The artists and the fans were especially happy to be a part of it because they were able to meet each other, exchange a few words, buy signed items and click pictures together as Comic Con India made its comeback on-ground after the Covid-19 pandemic. With Bengaluru being the top favoured con of many comic book publishers, followed by Mumbai, the publishers are hoping for the Hyderabad edition to be announced soon. 

Comic publisher AfterShock files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Days after charges made by AfterShock regarding the non-payment of creator royalties went viral, the comics publisher filed for bankruptcy protection. AfterShock Comics, LLC, the comic firm’s parent company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday. The business listed assets between $10 million and $50 million when it submitted its paperwork with the District of Central California. The identical amounts are reported under the company’s liabilities. The parent company of AfterShock’s division for developing films and television, Rive Gauche Television, also applied for bankruptcy protection.

Numerous creditors are cited in the filing paperwork, including Imprimerie JS Printing, a Canadian printer, who is due approximately $400,000 in total. There are also dozens of creators listed, some of whom owed unpaid royalties around $20,000.

Since Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a reorganisation bankruptcy, the business can carry on as normal while it deals with the fact that it is presently unable to pay all of its creditors. Marvel Comics is the most well-known example of a famous company that has gone through Chapter 11 and came out on the other side. However, numerous businesses have failed to emerge from bankruptcy.

Former Negative Burn editor Joe Pruett and former Marvel and DC editor Mike Marts, along with Lee Kramer, Jon Kramer, and Michael Richter, established AfterShock Comics. The Chapter 11 filing was signed by Jon Kramer. Marts earlier this year departed from AfterShock to take the position of editor-in-chief at Mad Cave Comics. Brian Cunningham, a former editor for DC, took over for Marts.

Have a good night sleep with ‘Sleepsutra’

WonTolla brings to the readers the stories about ‘Sleep’. Yes! Possibly the most relatable and pleasurable emotion in any person’s life. At least one third of our life is spent sleeping, and Sleepsutra unravels the states of consciousness we drift in and out of from the day we were born, with our parents watching over us, to sleeping alongside spouses, lovers, companions and friends, to the times we have slept by ourselves, alone!

It also sees one through sufferings on hospital beds, getting run over on pavements, and nodding off in bathtubs. What exactly are the undercover adventures captured in Sleepsutra? Chaitanya Modak, an indie comic writer and publisher and co-founder of the Indie Comix Fest sheds light on the stories of sleep. With around nine books penned down by Modak, the last two included Be a Man – How to kill what you eat without using a knife (in less than 30 seconds) which looks at the aesthetics and politics of killing for food and Saturday Comix, stories by first-time comic creators from a municipal school in Dharavi.

This comic is different from other comic books in all aspects, including the way the words and pictures flow, interlocking each other and also the peculiar size it comes in. What made Modak create a comic dedicated to sleep? Says he, “Nothing can be more refreshing or life-giving than sleep. It’s like any other basic needs of any human being. In fact, one can survive without food for a while but it is impossible to survive without sleep.”

Sleep is a state which recharges us and keeps us ticking! Sleepsutra covers all the sleep you ever will sleep or all the sleep you ever have slept. Sleep is nature’s antidote to the craziness around humans, a switch to pull when there’s overload. This book highlights things that happen to humans every day in dreams, while being awake and when in a deep sleep state. These incidents have precision and regularity but that does not make them normal. “This sense of intrigue that readers are left with, is what they have found appealing. Also, the minimalist aesthetic of both, the content and the form of the book, has drawn a lot of appreciation,” added Modak.

Being an independent self-funded comics publisher, Modak intimately looks over the entire production process. The funds acquired from his previous project helps him to support the production of the next project. Released in September, Sleepsutra has been sold directly to the viewers at comic and zine fests around the country. And Modak happily states how the book has already sold about 50 copies in the first couple of months.

Sleepsutra has resonated with a large number of people and I have been getting messages from readers who’ve told me that it’s helped them overcome sleep apnoea to people who have identified with sleep patterns and incidences in the book congratulating me over depicting it exactly as it happens,” concluded Modak.

After Sleepsutra, WonTolla is coming up with another comic, Disturbing, which is a series of concrete or shape poems on love, loss, longing, hate, hurting and healing. We will wait till Modak gives all the readers another quirky read and something more to resonate with.

Modak in his own way has made the basic human need, sleep, a hero. With an offbeat take on sleep, this is his ode to those adventures under the covers!

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