To all my fellow desi comic readers,
I’ve been pondering for years now and am still unable to answer certain dilemmas as a member of the India-indie-comics-scene and part-time publisher, so I’m putting it all out to you, the readers, and want to see what your reactions and thoughts are on these matters.
BUT before I get to the more specific queries, there’s something I would like to put to all the comic enthusiasts out there – TALK TO US!
Why don’t you? It is a never-ending grouse of publishers in India that no matter how many years pass, Indian readers have nothing to say online except the sycophantic “sahi hai!/badiya!/you are god!” comments you see on social media that honestly mean nothing in the end. Those same fans will join hordes of others on deep, intense discussions on forums, boards, websites/news-sites and such about Batman or Superman or X-Men or Valiant Comics or Image – but do they have anything at all to say about the Indian comics all around them? Not really. No.
What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? Do you prefer colour or black and white? Are the comics too expensive for you? Why can’t you write a one para review of a comic you bought at comic-con? Did you like any artist or writer over the rest? Was the quality of something better or worse than others? What is most important to you in comics? Why do you not comment on publishers blogs/social media with anything substantive?
To this end I’m adding a first poll to kick things off at the end of this post. Like anything else, if there are comments or votes here, I hope to do this again and try and get more debate going with all of you out there because believe when I say that I want nothing more than to tell good stories that you would want to read with all the wonderful writers and artists I’ve had the privilege of knowing in the desi comic scene because without your help it is all going to disappear before you know it.
FAIR, POLITE AND HONEST DISCUSSION REQUESTED!
(Vote as you see fit)
THE BIG QUESTIONS:
Despite the HUGE variety of comics that have been coming out the past few years in India, the massive creativity from the many, many small publishers and the huge sales of comics in general (though primarily the imported/foreign ones) that have in fact increased by leaps and bounds over the last 3-5 years…
- Why do only Hindu mythology based comics seem to attract immediate, rabid support and love despite quality of comic/story no matter what and,
- Why do you think that despite the literally thousands and thousands that attend comic conventions and can now buy comics online delivered right to their doorstep from multiple sites, smaller publishers (pretty much all of them) struggle to break even on print runs that on an average would not exceed 2-3000 copies off an issue even after over a year after printing it?
Given the buying power, interest, enthusiasm visible across social media and at events and such, I do feel like there is something that we are missing between the publishers and the readers that could rectify this, because this situation has created a vicious circle where publishers can’t afford to produce fast enough because money invested doesn’t come back fast enough and the result is people lose interest which in turn affects sales and awareness and market presence which slows production and so on and so forth…
The Indian comic scene is struggling with itself despite having AWESOME and energetic fans whom I’ve seen buy whole catalogues from local publishers at a go and come back year after year for new comics, yet somehow the total sales in a given year are so low that many of the publishers that jumped into the fray 5-6 years back (when I was starting out as a comic writer in this comic scene no one took seriously and just before the first Indian Comic Con) have all either packed up or phased out their comics and moved onto other business at events or are dangerously close to shutting shop if things don’t improve.
If we could understand what it is that the interested Indian reader is willing to pay, what kind of comic they want, what we are doing wrong – maybe we could find a middle ground that would suit everyone better?
And readers, do consider that your expectations might also be a tad over-zealous – if you expect a DC/Marvel quality of print, paper, art, story and volume of content, then you can’t shy away from paying for it or taking a chance on it as you would with an American publisher you heard about from a friend, that’s just fooling yourselves and helping nail shut the coffins of the Indie folks here who want to give you what you want if you can just help us out a little.
Consider this an honest query from a comic loving geek who wants comics in India to succeed more than anything and has first-hand seen how hard the indie creators in this country work for how little return and the support of dedicated fans who all want the same thing.
That’s it, long meandering post over, I’m out, let me know what you guys think.