The universe of Indian comics collectors and geeks is expanding ♦
This article is part of a cover package on new directions in Indian comics
“I had about 5,000 comics when I stopped counting,” said Mayank Khurana. “That was about ten years ago.” In his library, Khurana has shelves organised by country and publisher, figurines and framed posters. His glossy DCs and Marvels are in sleeves, but his original collection of Indian comics is stacked up in thick, dusty piles.
“I started with Diamond and it snowballed,” he recounted. “I got to know that comics abroad are superior – that a lot of Indian comics are directly lifting from there. I kind of got disillusioned and moved towards foreign comics. But it was hard to find them at that time.” All that changed with the Internet. “In ’96, I had a TCP/IP account… I was massively researching on the net,” he said. Social media also made it possible for Khurana to connect with other enthusiasts. His library is headquarters for Comic Addicts, a website and fan club he started last year. The project began as a blog, but soon Khurana started “recruiting” fellow enthusiasts. Most contributors live in Delhi, but Comic Addicts has over 3,000 Facebook fans and about 25 core members from all over India and abroad. Publishers now send them comics to review.
The Delhi members meet about once a month to go over the latest arrivals from the US (Khurana has standing subscriptions), plot events and generally geek out. At their “mini con” at 1 Boulevard in November, about 250 people walked in for screenings, gaming competitions, live sketching and music. The community is growing, and becoming closely linked with the world of comics creation. “Every single fan wants to do one single comic before they die,” Khurana said, “even I have that.” For now, he’s content to collect. He showed us his first original art aquisition – a page of Level 10’s Daksh drawn by a 19-year-old fan, freelance artist and Jalpaiguri student, Devmalya Pramanik.
Delhi has at least a couple of serious comic art collectors too. Dipyaman Sanyal and Aparajita Bhattacharjee got hooked with Tintins, ACKs and Bengali comics, but have since amassed a respectable portfolio of original art, including work by Will Eisner, Michael Zulli (Sandman), Bob Kane and old newspaper strips. “We know lots of people who would like to [collect], but things are not available here,” Sanyal said. “First, we were just looking online. And then we bought one or two,” said Bhattacharjee. “The expensive ones we would gift to each other.” Sanyal added that he’d like to collect Indian comic art, but there’s no market for it. “It’s exactly what happened in the US 50, even 30, years ago – people threw them out,” he said. “I would love to buy a cartoon by Mario Miranda, but I don’t know who I can call. Even Pran – I don’t think it’s great art, but I would buy it for nostalgic value.”
If the fandom keeps growing, he may have a bit of competition. But as Comic Addict Rohan Parti pointed out, fans share only the friendliest of rivalries. “At the Jaipur Literary Fest, if celebrities came, there was controversy; if celebrities didn’t come, there was controversy,” he pointed out. “But we don’t have that kind of shit in Comic Con. Just straight ahead comic love.”
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Published: February 17, 2011