The first annual Bangalore Comic Con (a follow up to last year's Comic Con Express) was held on June 1 and 2. The National Games Indoor Stadium in Koramangala was packed with over 60,000 fans awestruck by comics, merchandise and yes, superheroes.
There’s nothing usual about Comic Con.
Spandex and face masks meet-and-greet painted faces, fake beards and ridiculous head-gear. Interestingly, it’s the ‘normal’ people who find that they are the minority during this crazy and creative event.
The Comic Con Express held last year in Bangalore witnessed around 35,000 people with 65 exhibitors selling comics and merchandise. The Comic Con this year clocked almost a double of last year in terms of crowd turnout (over 60,000 people) including comic fans and a large number of the general public as well.
Speaking about the Comic Con this year, Jatin Varma, the founder of Comic Con India said, “We try to bring retailers, publishers, merchandisers, writers, artists, illustrators etc., from within the comic, animation, gaming, movies/studios and related communities together and give them a common platform. We are overwhelmed by the response we have been getting at all Indian Comic Cons. We were extremely fortunate to have speakers, both from the Indian comics industry and veterans from outside the country who came especially for the Bangalore Comic Con.”
Varma was right.
While wading through zombies, superheroes and supervillains, we came across several people who had flown in from several parts of the country just for the Bangalore Comic Con.
Sumit and Grishma, a couple from Mumbai flew down early Saturday morning and flew back Sunday evening. “We both love comics and the whole hysteria around it. This is what we do!” said Sumit as he dragged his wheeled suitcase out of the gate. We also bumped into Themos, who had flown all the way from Romania just for a day. His itinerary? “Airport - Comic Con - Airport!”
The venue was packed and a lot of fans complained about the lack of space to move around and the overbearing heat.
Merin George, who was dressed as Catwoman said she didn’t mind if an entry fee were charged, but there should be air conditioning at Comic Con.
Raj Frederick Paul, a student in Rochester who was on a vacation told, “Clearly people were much more aware of the event this year. I’m sure it will grow. That said, the Koramangala indoor stadium is just too small for an event of this magnitude!”
Participants of Cos Play (dress as a comic character and win prizes) were unperturbed by the heat or crowd. Nadir, whose Iron Man costume won him a Goan holiday on day one explained that he made his costume from foam and then hardened it with rubber adhesive. He stayed in character throughout the day and took off his mask only for a brief period to wipe off some sweat and to say, "This (sticking it out through the heat and jostling) is what it’s all about!"
The winner on day two was Arun Sharma who dressed as (and looked uncannily like) Mr Tumnus from The Chronicles of Narnia.
Do those who don’t really dig comics, think it's all kids' stuff?
Not quite, going by what one observed at the Comic Con. There were more adults than children. 63 year old Mr Sheshadiri who had brought his grand-children to the Comic Con said, "I like reading comics because they are fun and also have some message in them that children can learn from. I passed on my interest (in comics) to my grand-children!"
Kids at the Comic Con were totally in the know about all the characters, quizzes and trivia.
14 year old Mohana told this reporter,“I want to be a graphic novelist when I grow up so I came to get some tips.” We don’t know if she got her masterclass, but it tells us that the Indian comic industry is set to grow and people are looking at it as a career choice.
There were 75 exhibitors at the Comic Con who had comics, merchandise and food for sale. There was visibly more money being spent this year, in comparison to last year’s Express.
Ashwin and Hina Palkar, co-founders of I Wear Me, a brand that makes 100% organic cotton t-shirts said, "I Wear Me was a great success. Lot of people appreciated the kind of work that we do and it was heart-warming to hear this. Being the co founder of the company, it was amazing to be present there and witness our products fly off the shelves. Our sales clocked around the Rs 200,000 mark and this was the highest among all the editions that we did so far. We sold close to 300 t-shirts. Apart from on ground sales, we also got a lot of online orders too."
Pratheek Thomas who heads Manta Ray comics said that the crowd turnout and revenue was higher than last year. He wasn’t comfortable sharing the amount of money Manta Ray had generated though.
Speaking about Bangalorean comic fans and coming back next year, Varma (founder of Comic Con) said, "I am extremely happy as we have received a grand response from fans and artists from across the world. Bangalore fans are fantastic; there was so much love for comics and pop-culture in the air! We are so looking forward to be back next year and every year as Bangalore now has its own annual comics convention!"