New Delhi: Remember pacing through your favourite comic book with a torch tucked inside a blanket? Indian comic book aficionados can now relive those moments at the country's First Annual Indian Comic Convention here next month.
An excellent combination of fun and serious business, the event will be a landmark for the industry in India, claim organisers. It's the time to get reacquainted with old favourites like Nagraj and be introduced to new ones.
A line-up of the world's leading comics, unreleased animation movies for preview, workshops by leaders of the industry, contests and the National Book Trust launching its first series of comics... the convention promises to be an all-round celebration.
Organised by Twenty Onwards Media -- also behind the Annual Golden Kela Awards -- the fair will be held at Dilli Haat Feb 19-20.
"It is an effort to celebrate our love for comics and give a boost to the industry. It'll be a platform for all publishers to come together to showcase their products and meet new talent," Jatin Varma of Twenty Onwards Media told IANS.
"All the artists, writers and comic book fans will have an awesome time. The convention includes everyone involved in the comic book industry in every which way," Varma claimed.
There are over 20 major annual Comic Cons (conventions) held across the world, including in the US, Canada, Britain, France and Italy.
"Comic books have been here since a long time. But midway the industry suffered because of a sudden change in the market with the influx of foreign comic books. However, that only made it better because there was a lot more competition and the work coming out is great," said Varma.
There is a big disconnect among fans and they are spread out, he pointed out.
"The biggest problem for Indian comic publishers is the inadequate distribution mechanism. An event like this will let people come across everything involved in the industry," he added.
Asked about the Internet pulling down comic sales, Varma said: "You know... it is very easy to download a comic online, but the experience of reading it in hand is completely different."
The convention includes a book fair featuring the biggest publishers from India and abroad. Various artists from across the country are expected to attend the gala. There will be interactive workshops, fun-filled sessions and a costume contest.
Existing publishers like Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) Media, Diamond Comics, Raj Comics as well as new entrants like Vimanika, Level 10, Campfire and others are expected at the event.
A nationwide contest for artists and writers is also under way.
"Also, we are inviting a number of animation movie for previews. We also hope to do something with movies like 'Ra.One'," said Varma.
The convention will also see the launch of two comic books - "Retrograde" and "UbiMA" - as well as a graphic novel "The Itch You Can't Scratch".
Merchandise will be up for grabs as the famous Avenger Toys will be setting shop at the event.
Sanjay Gupta, studio head of Raj Comics, told IANS: "The Indian comic industry today is worth not less than Rs.100 crore."
Added Samir Patil, chief executive officer and founder of ACK Media: "The growth of the comic industry is touted to be around 30-40 percent annually."
Raj Comics has come out with more than 3,000 titles during the last 25 years and currently publishes a minimum of 80,000 copies every month for four titles. Their existing regulars include the popular "Nagraj", "Super Commando Dhruv", "Doga", "Bankelal", "Bhedia" and "Bhokal".
While Amar Chitra Katha has sold more than 100 million copies over a span of 40 years and has over 500 titles uncer ACK alone. Some of India's most-loved brands, including "Tinkle", "Karadi Tales" and well-known characters like "Suppandi", are part of the group.
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