About this blog

And here I am, adding yet another blog to the long list of blogs that I seem to be miraculously managing amidst all my daydreaming. This one, however, is for the mundane day to day happenings

Saturday, 6 October 2012

From Marcus to Dragonmill - My story so far

With all this talk about dark matter and the dark energy keeping stars from plummeting off to oblivion, one is left with the rather unsettling thought that perhaps Mr. Darth Vader is in charge of the universe. At least when he is not having asthma attacks or playing dice with God. Contrary to what Einstein remarked, I do believe that there is a rather dicey game of dice involved in the running of matters. Why else would there be so many drastic paradigm shifts (clichéd as the term might sound by now) regarding the way we perceive our world among every sect except may be those of His chosen ones?

It has now been eleven months since the Mumbai Comic Con 2011 which incidentally was also our(Libera Artisti's) first, and I can't allow myself to procrastinate writing this any more. Not because I feel that eleven months is too long a time period - maestro of procrastination at your service here- , but because we all feel that the recent Bangalore Comic Con has been the first true milestone in the hitherto non existent comic history of India. Now don't give me that condescending look. Yes, I am very aware that comics have existed in our nation for over half a century now, but let's not fool ourselves into believing that our grown ups took them seriously and wouldn't have minded being caught dead with one all these years. Let's all first admit the fact that it was not until recently that our readers started considering comic books as a something beyond just picture books for children. Good! Now that we're all on the same page, let me get down to business

That would take me back to the oh-so-clichéd paradigm shift. But this time, the world in consideration is that of panels, artwork, and speech bubbles. It was in 2008 that I got the nerve to look at my two year long corporate career and say:

“F**k this s**t! I’m gonna quit and do something serious!”

 “Like what?”, they asked

 “Like comic books!”, I said

This was followed by a long silence and then a sinister remark that went:  “He’s quitting his job to make one of those magazines with dull-witted stories about grown men in tights”

That was the scene just four years ago. And yes, for the first two years it did feel like we were stuck in the wrong end of the world when the Grant Morrisons, and Neil Gaimans(Gaimen??) of the world pranced around in green pastures.  But we continued through the dark tunnel looking for the light at the other end. The first ray of dawn fell upon my sunken panda-eyes when The New Indian Express decided to publish my comic strip – Marcus and More.  Soon afterwards I was mentioned, rather prematurely, in the Sunday Guardian article titled “Pioneers of the Indian Graphic Novel Scene”. Though I am fully aware that I deserved no such mention this early in my career, it did get us some much longed for exposure, and very soon, someone extremely nice and generous started funding our first ever full length graphic novel. And thus “Autopilot” took off, with me writing the story, Sinu doing the art, and Rosh the colors. Later on, we got Aditya Bidikar and Merryn John to do the lettering and graphic design respectively, for the first volume.

With the first Indian Comic Con, the scene started changing. People started taking comics seriously once some light was thrown onto the tip of the iceberg that is the full potential of this medium of storytelling. With more players entering the scene, there was now the much needed healthy competition that would fuel the desideratum for quality. Though we did not take part in the first Comic Con, it reassured us that we haven’t chosen the wrong means to earning our daily bread and compelled us to work harder and give it our best

In the meantime I started doing three other comic strips on my own – “The Urban Yogi” for FWD magazine, “The Blue Hamster Chronicles” for MTV’s Noise Factory, and the ongoing “Inappropriate” for The Indian Express  - All fun projects that really helped me unwind and keep things light. It also helped me avoid the frustration that could’ve resulted from having to sit and write while Rosh and Sinu got to do all the fun stuff 

The Mumbai Comic Con was the first that we attended and we did not have much to offer at our stall except a preview of what was to come.  But the crowd was kind to us and encouraged us by buying our commissioned sketches and other promotional material featuring characters from the then upcoming comic. It was also the first time that we got to see so many people dressed up as our favorite comic characters walking around as though they truly belonged to our otherwise mundane world. Thanks to our friends who had dropped in to root for us, we had an amazing time, and we all came back loaded with the goodies that we bought from the other stalls

 In Feb 2012, at the Delhi Comic Con, we finally brought out the first issue. I can’t thank our publisher, Dragonmill, and the men behind the mill, enough for the phenomenal launch ceremony that was organized for Autopilot. 

The response was overwhelming. We sold 572 copies in three days, and none of us had known till then that signing so many books back to back could be so much fun. We thought that we had seen the best of our days…

...until, in September, Bangalore happened and blew us away

 The Bangalore Comic Con was by far the best of the lot! Never before had we seen so many comic-lovers gathered under the same dome. We had two days of ultimate fun.

By the second day we were completely sold out. We also got to screen three animated short films by our super-talented boys at Dragonmill Media.

And what could have served as a better culmination to the event than our very own Cocoboy winning the best-costume award!

I am currently scripting the 7th issue. It’s going a little slow, now with the tv series (a spin off series based on one of the characters that appear in Autopilot) happening in parallel. Intellectual Property Rights is sometimes harder than rocket-science for us to comprehend. But thankfully, our publisher/producer – Dragonmill, is taking care of all that for us. There is a lot more from us (Libera Artisti and Dragonmill) in the offing; but for now, it’s time to say au revoir!

Photo Courtesy: Rosh, Sinu, Andy, Praveen, and Pramodh

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Hocus Pocus...

It happens to the best of you. You sit there caffeinated, staring at a big blank white screen waiting for the words to magically pop out of nowhere, but it just won't happen. Then you declare, 'today is just not the day', and that 'writer's block is a bitch', and that you should perhaps just sleep it out; or maybe just go watch some tv, or a movie, or read a book. This lasts for days. Then the days add up to weeks, and weeks to months, and you eventually return to that screen that is still as white and as blank as you had left it many months back and could not possibly go any whiter or blanker. You suddenly realize that you don't have anything that you want to write about or that you know what you want to write about but you still lack the drive. It's like having the girl of your dreams right before your eyes and for some inconceivable reason, you just can't seem to get it up, even though deep down you know that you still want her. And you wonder what's wrong without realizing that you have once again fallen prey to your routine. You, my friend, have become a routine potato

Step out, travel, go skinny dipping, watch the stars, chase a dream, fall in love, get drunk, get foolish, get your heart broken,… and when you come back, let your craft tell us all about it -the good, the bad, and the ugly. Write it down while it's all still fresh. Paint us a picture. Write us a song. This, comrade, is the magical cure for even the most acute case of creative impotency

Picture courtesy: freefoto.com, Merryn John

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A long overdue thank you note

A month and a half post the book launch, I have finally earned myself the time to settle down on a cozy couch with a steaming hot cup of Jo and type my heart out. Outside, the rain does a soothing pitter patter. Right next to me are two tiny little fur-balls, the first of Jinx's litter. Aisling and Keira - Dream and darkness; so distinct, and yet so totally intertwined. It's a bliss to watch them sleep so peacefully, dreaming perhaps the 'dream of a thousand cats', if you are familiar with the story from Sandman - Dream Country

Without any further ado, let me express my sincere Gratitude to Dilli Haat for making the graphic-novel pre-launch such a huge success. We never thought that signing 472 copies back to back would be so much fun and we hope that this is only the begining

I thank ...

...Dragonmill, our publisher, from the bottom of my heart for making this dream come true

...All our near and dear ones for standing by us throughout the journey so far and for continuing to do so

... All Libera Artisti fans for their love and support

... all our beloved readers who wrote in to let us know how much they liked the first installment of our book, Autopilot - A traffic novel

... and also all of you who have picked up a copy

There are a few copies remaining with dial-a-book and in case any of you want to buy one, here is the link to get the book sent right to your doorstep at a 10% discount


Alternatively you can mail us at contact@liberaartisti.com to have a signed copy sent to you at... well,... a slightly higher price

If you don't know what autopilot is all about, Here is what the back-blurb says

"Set in an alternate Kerala where masked vigilantes still fight crime and protect the civilians from mythical creatures, Auto-pilot tells the story of Suku, an auto-rickshaw driver who ends up having to play chauffeur to Yamaraj, the Indian God of Death. Armed with a rather misplaced desire to be a super hero and an immediate necessity to win back the heart of his dream-girl Riya, Suku embarks on an unusual quest that takes him all the way from the pothole infested roads of Kerala to the magma-dripping pathways of Yamapuri and beyond. Join Suku and Yamaraj in this crazy ride as they win the battles they can,try to con through the ones they can't and fight to bring back order in Yamapuri, the land of judgement"