Dailybhaskar.com | Last Modified - Jun 30, 2012, 09:46 AM IST
New Delhi: At a time when The Amazing Spider Man is making news in India, Sharad Devarajan, the man whose publishing house Liquid Comics brought Spidey in Indian Avatar for the first time has some good news for Indian Graphic Novel buffs. Stan Lee, the creator of Spider Man is creating his first Indian Super Hero 'Chakra-The Invincible'.
It is exclusively designed and meant for the Indian readers. For this, the legendary comic book creator has joined hands with Liquid Comics. Devarajan talked to us on various topics related to Graphic Novels and graphic novel art, his films, and how this US-based comic book publishing firm is trying to promote and provide a strong platform to new Indian talents...
# What are your views on Indian comics industry and its market- past, present and future? Also, kindly express your views about preferences of Indian readers preferences.
Our mission is to transform the perception of India from an 'outsourcer' to 'a source'. We believe that the way Japan, Korea and China have exported their Anime, Manga, Manhwa and original styles of storytelling to the world, India too has the potential to become one of the biggest creative exporters in the years ahead. The next JK Rowling, Steven Spielberg or Stan Lee is sitting somewhere in India and our responsibility is to find such young talents, nurture them and give them the training, resources and belief in themselves to take their ideas to the world.
Over the last few years, artists, writers and creators have begun to realize that comic books and graphic novels are a powerful medium to create stories, characters and imaginary places regardless of the genre or demographic. In the earlier part of the last decade in India, comics were still perceived as "kids products" whereas in the last five years a new generation of world-class Indian creators have begun expanding the boundaries of the medium and transforming its perception within india as a viable foundation to create compelling stories that are not defined by age or genre, just like other visual storytelling mediums such as film and television. We have begun to see a creative renaissance emerge in the country and many of the artists we have been fortunate enough to work with at Liquid Comics, such as Jeevan J Kang, Edison George, Mukesh Singh, and Saumin Patel, are developing tremendous interest around the world and these Indian creators are highly respected as creative partners and collaborators by some of the leading talents in the international graphic novel industry. Indian audiences have begun to reassess what they perceive as a comic book and start taking the medium as a serious platform to explore very contemporary themes way beyond the "Tights and Capes" of the traditional superhero genre.
# What are your plans for the Indian market? Is Liquid Comics planning to join hands with Indian publishing houses or Indian film production houses?
In the recent development, we have joined hands with legendary creator, Stan Lee, co-creator of some of the world’s leading superhero characters (Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Daredevil, Hulk, Thor, etc.). Together, we will be launching an original superhero for the Indian market by the end of this year.
Lee, will develop the new superhero with a team of Indian artists already working in our firm. It will initially be launched as a series of downloadable web and mobile comics. These comics will be distributed throughout India on Liquid’s recently announced ‘Graphic India’ platform and www.graphicindia.com website.
Created by Lee, “Chakra - The Invincible,” will be the first Indian superhero created by Lee in collaboration with local Indian artists and writers. Chakra tells the story of the young Indian teenager, Raju Rai, a technology genius living in Mumbai. Determined to use science to unlock the secrets of human potential, Raju develops a technically-enhanced suit that activates the mystical Chakras of the body, unleashing newfound abilities and powers.
We are also putting in place a number of initiatives specifically focused on the Indian market to be launched towards the second half of the year. These will include both key strategic tie-ups and partnerships to expand the distribution of some of our existing books and properties as well as new content tie-ups to create a number of new
stories specifically launched in India first. At the core, we intend to focus our efforts much more aggressively on enabling users to experience our stories through digital platforms versus traditional print. The "Liquid" in Liquid Comics is derived from our belief that the future of publishing exists far beyond paper and traditional print and is about creating compelling stories that seamlessly engage users across a variety of digital platforms.
# If given a choice, which is the preferred market for Liquid Comics- the West or Asia? And, why?
In today's world of content creation, I think its becoming harder to define ourselves in the same regional boundaries as we used to. Compelling content transcends race, religion and culture and speaks to audiences worldwide. We don't think of Spider-Man, Batman or Harry Potter as western properties as much as we see them as global properties. Even games like Farmville have quickly amassed global audiences and we find these audiences in the world today actually have more in common than they do differences when it comes to content. In the end our goal is to create great stories and characters that are relatable on a very primal level to audiences worldwide. Hopefully, in time, those stories will begin a natural migration to audiences regardless if where we initial market and introduce them. While North America has
certainly been where we have been focused on introducing much of our content initially, we are finding an organic global curiosity and interest emerging, evidenced by the number of people reading our free digital comics on our website and through our Scribd.com/Liquidcomics community.
# Virgin and now Liquid Comics has played a significant role in providing a launching platform for Indian artists (Jeevan J Kang, Saumin Patel, Mukesh Singh and Abhishek Singhian). Is there any plan to set up training centres or a school for comic book artists in India?
No plan for a training school as of now, but we would love to partner with a few existing universities and develop courses that really help train the graphic illustrated arts. The success and brilliance of artists like Jeevan, Mukesh and the other artists we have had the privilege of working with at Liquid is not in their drawing ability, but actually in the way they think and see the world. They create and innovate as "artists" not as "technicians." With the rush to capture so much of the outsourcing dollars,
schools and studios should not place a disproportionate emphasis on technical skills as in the end its the unique thinking that an artist brings to his work that makes it a success. We would trade a thousand artists who can color within the lines for one artist whose not afraid to color outside them.
I would encourage young creators in India to focus on being an artist not a technician ¬ there are plenty of studios which will teach you how to provide the back-end services for the next outsourced film project, but very few studios that will teach you how to create the next Shrek or Pokemon ¬ make sure you are working for a place that encourages you to be different, think different and create different, otherwise whatever natural skills you have will quickly deteriorate as you become a cog in the machine. The longer you stay ³in the box² the tougher it is to think outside of it so the first few years in your professional life are the most important in anchoring your
mindset and creative thinking.
# Indian institutes like National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, train many talented artists every year in graphic designing and comic book art. Any plans to collaborate with such an institute in India?
We would love to - NID is one of the best schools in the country.
# With Marvel you created Œ-Spider-Man: Indian), a series which was much acclaimed as the industry's first trans-creation. Are there any plans to trans-create Indian mythological characters in foreign setting? Which will be your next comic book/graphic novel project featuring Indian characters after Buddha?
For me, the idea of Transcreation (vs. Traditional "translations") is about collaborating and evolving new paradigms of creativity between the east and west with creators who can work together across borders and across cultures to produce a new creative spark that transcends any individual region. I am a great fan of what Amar Chitra Katha has done and grew up reading their books. They have managed to tell a compelling, more traditional version of the classic Indian myth that every child continues to read to understand and learn from. However, our goal at Liquid Comics is to go to the original source material and create new epics that would be inspired by the originals but are definitely not a literal retelling. In the same way artists, sculptors and poets have looked to the Mahabharata and Ramayana as a source of creative inspiration for thousands of years; we want to allow this generations greatest creators to find their own unique way to communicate this story using modern mediums from comics to video games. For example we just released a new book based on The Mahabharata, called '18 Days.'
18 Days takes one of the most enduring tales of the East and places it in the adept hands of Grant Morrison, one of the greatest comic book storytellers of the West. Combined with the visual spectacle of superstar artist Mukesh Singh's brilliant art, this is a book that goes beyond myth, beyond generations and beyond borders, paying homage to the story's origins while also showing the world a dynamic new vision of gods and war. Think Lord of the Rings meets Avatar and then times that by ten! When people around the world see the international quality of the artwork in our stories created by our Indian artists, they will continue to realize, that over the
next decade India¹s young creators are poised to challenge and captivate the imaginations of the world. After all, despite the success of Avatar, the myths of India are the originator of the blue-skinned hero and we need to show the world the great creativity and rich mythic storytelling of our culture.