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A tale of words and pictures

Rohini Kejriwal, October 1 , 2012

Graphic novels

There lies a fine line of difference between the world of comics and story books. That little space is now being filled at a rapid pace with graphic novels, essentially comics with a more mature or serious story to be told.

The combination of words and pictures seem to be creating a new breed of readers among the youngsters in the City, with more and more people taking to this form.

Sreejita Biswas, a 26-year-old writer, shares that she discovered her love for graphic novels almost a decade ago.

“There’s been no looking back since. Every time I step into a bookstore, I need to buy one, regardless of whether or not I can afford it,” she says.

Unlike other readers though, she has been obsessed and writing about them long enough for her to want to take this passion to another level.

“A couple of friends of mine and I conceived ‘Strip Tease’, an online magazine about the world of comics and graphic novels. After getting people to give us articles and work for us, we are all set to launch by the end of October. I'm not entirely sure if this will work out well or not but it’s worth a shot. We are looking for like-minded people to join the team and help us in whatever little way they can,” declares Sreejita.

For any graphic novel fans out there, this may be the best opportunity to do something with their love for these books.

For others, the fascination is more recent and is based around the look of the book itself.
“In the recently concluded ‘Comic Con’, I met a whole bunch of Indian graphic novelists and they’ve got some great concepts and terrific artwork. All we need now is more of these novelists and more content,” notes Jaideep Khare, a young professional.

“The problem with the graphic novel scene is that it is still majorly underground. It needs to make up for that by churning out volumes,” he adds.

Graphic novel publishers, ‘Manta Ray Comics’, seem optimistic about the growth in the comic scene.

“Everyone is trying their own thing — mythology-inspired titles, superheroes, fantasy, thrillers, adventures, Sufi stories. But it will take some time before the field matures and real trends emerge,” says Pratheek Thomas, co-founder.

Their debut title, ‘Hush’, created by him, is a short story that deals with the subject of child abuse and tells it purely through pictures with no words.

He is happy that it has received positive responses from all kinds of readers, not only the comic fans.

“One of the other reactions that we got was that ‘Hush’ is expensive,” confesses Pratheek.

“But the truth is that we have made almost no money from the book. ‘Hush’ was never a commercial project for us and the entire team worked ‘pro bono’. With the pricing we had, we barely covered our print costs of the book,” he concludes.

The fact that there is no money in it for the creators of such works of art reflects the primitive nature of the field.

One can only hope that sooner than later, it becomes a self-sustained part of the mainstream culture.


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