The Indie Comix Fest is a platform for comic artists to access their target customer base directly. It is an opportunity for fans to meet creators and get to know their work. After a successful run in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru last year, the Indie Comix Fest will be travelling to more cities this year, including Pune. Chaitanya Modak, a comic creator who will be participating in the festival, says, “We felt the need to expand the Indie Comix Fest to places where comics exist as a culture in local languages (for example in Malayalam, Bengali and Marathi languages). Hence we are exploring Kochi, Goa, Kolkata and Pune as venues. Pune, especially, has a long history of comic and cartoon creators with stalwarts like Mangesh Tendulkar, S D Phadnis and R K Laxman.”
Bharath Murthy, another participant illustrator, talks about how comic creators would like to listen to the voice of the younger generation, and an event like this provides the best setting to do so. “Pune has a large community of artists and readers. You can expect to see new stories, new voices, the self-expression of youth, and talks and presentations on comics as an art form at the fest,” he shares.
There will be over 25 comic book artists, writers, illustrators and self-publishing labels displaying their publications with exciting offers on anthologies, serialised floppies, hand-pressed zines, fold-pot comics, screen printed comics, posters and a lot more. Other events include a presentation of Five Years of Indian Politics — A Cartoon Journey by Sunil Nampu, Gekiga: A Guide to Alternative Japanese comics by Bharath Murthy, Making Comics in a group with the Comics Jam by Chaitanya Modak, a session for upcoming comic creators by Vinay Brahmania, and a two-hour live sketching session with Urban Sketchers Group.
To be held at TIFA Working Studios, tomorrow, from 10 am-7 pm, the convention will give fans a chance to learn how to make their own comics, how to release their work through self-publishing and more. Talking about the rise in popularity of comics, Modak says, “There has been a rising interest in the idea of content that is a mix of words and visuals. Creators have started using social media to put out their stories. Older formats like zines have seen a major revival, especially with the rise in the number of design schools. It’s a small start, however, we are slowly but surely starting to understand that it’s not just a medium for children, or just about superheroes and mythology, but a serious and evocative medium with exponential capacity to communicate simply and directly.”
Murthy adds that the indie comic circuit is presently “a tiny scene.” “Hopefully with more exposure and more original stories and art we’ll get more readers,” he adds. But it is conventions like these that help the indie comic scene grow and flourish. “These events help in building a readership base and getting instant feedback from readers, but, most importantly, meeting other artists and having a sense of community. The fest is all about artists and readers talking to each other face to face,” he says. Modak believes that these events expose readers to a large variety of work and help discover new artists, and individual creators are also able to retain 100 per cent of what they make by selling their work.
Murthy believes that the first thing you need to do before you consider self-publishing is to find your own voice and draw without censoring yourself. Modak elaborates about a set of choices one needs to make. “Firstly, you need to decide if this is a passion project you’re doing on the side or whether you want to take it up full-time. Do you have a gig on the side that can take care of your bills or a rich relative, or maybe a kickstarter campaign and patrons ready to finance you? Then comes the actual creation. Comics are a mixture of words and pictures, design and layout, lettering and colouring — all requiring some level of expertise before you can have the final outcome,” says Modak, adding, “The next step is to understand how you are going to release the comic to readers — print, digital, or a mix of both mediums? Are you going to release it as an instacomic, or have a webcomic hosted on your site, or will you release it as a physical copy?”
But before you get into the business feature of this, you need to master the creative aspect. Talking from his own experience, Modak says, “I am an independent bookmaker and publisher. Since 2012, under the moniker Won–Tolla, I have created nine ‘co-mix’ including two anthologies of stories by first-time comic creators from Dharavi. The narratives are all true-to life stories that present multiple realities and points of view. Meant for mature audiences of all ages, the ingredients for the perfect Won-Tolla comic are a slice of life, a meaty story (backed by a ton of research), a dash of wit, stunning visuals and a memorable aftertaste left to personal interpretation.”
His latest publication Sleepsutra, has stories of sleep. “At least a third of our life is spent in sleep, and the Sleepsutra unravels the states of consciousness we drift in and out of from the day we were born with our parents watching over us, to sleeping alongside spouses, lovers, companions and friends, and then to the times we slept alone. It also sees us through suffering on hospital beds, getting run over on pavements, and nodding off in bathtubs. This is an ode to all those sleeps,” describes Modak who is currently reworking a series of poems on love titled Disturbing.
Murthy’s works have been largely autobiographical, wavering between fiction and reportage. “My first full-length comic published by a mainstream publisher is The Vanished Path, which is available on Amazon. For the Indie Comix Fest, I have a few short comics compiled into a book,” he says.
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The Indie Comix Fest will be held at TIFA Working Studios, 12-A Connaught Road, Sadhu Vaswani Circle, on November 18, 10 am-7 pm