Saurav Mohapatra - comic book writer

author, artist and bona fide geek

Month: April 2007

Telling stories aka why I get such a kick writing INDIA AUTHENTIC

I spent the last year on sabbticcal in India and one incident that happened sometime in the first two three months kind of stuck with me.

Every freakin day for a week I would drive into my apartment complex n Hyderabad, India and find this huge Toyota mini van parked in my slot.

I got so flustered one day I stuck a note under its wiper politely saying Dear owner of minivan, the slot you are parked in is mine, would you mind moving your car so that I can park my measly little 800cc car. I also gave my cell number and parked as usual in the open.


The next morning an over apologetic man called (He turned out to be my landlord :) ). Long story short we got our parking woes straightened and towards the end of the talk, he politely inquired if in future I would not leave him stuff in writing and he would prefer it if I talked to him in person in case of any issues.

Now that is a very interesting point. India and Indians in particular are more familiar and comfortable with a conversational interaction than in writing. Much of our history and myths are an oral tradition too. This is a wonderful tradition as children have their elders tell them stories of days gone past, of kings and queens, of gods and demons. But for someone who does not know the language, much of this is lost. As a storyteller in a nation of storytellers it pained me a lot to think that there were but a mere handful of persons outside of those in the know who were aware of how rich and vibrant this tapestry of tales was.

Fast forward a month. My wife Preeti e-mailed me a link with a note, You will love this.It was an article in an Indian newspaper about something called Virgin Comics :) I took one look at their site (especially the cover image of Ramayan Reborn) and I knew I had my answer. Reading the preview issue, I felt the art lent a bit of familiarity to those who have no idea who Rama (not the cylindrical space ship but the blue skinned warrior :) ) or Hanuman (no relation to a certain Kryptonian ) to immerse themselves and enjoy what we for generations have come to cherish. Finally the Gordian knot has been slashed open, the answer my friend is comics.

In the forthcoming series INDIA AUTHENTIC we have tried to forge passage through the seemingly impregnable walls of geography and language and are trying to bring to an international audience the splendor of some iconic myths and legends of India complimented with edgy art. The themes in the tales are something everyone is familiar with, even though the dramatis personae might not be known to you, the primal fury of Kali, the benevolence of Ganesha or the single minded vengeance of Parshuram. We hope that the medium and presentation provides the lovers of tales of epic grandeur all around the globe their very own rosetta stone to enjoy this kaleidoscope.

Looking forward to writing for you
mohaps

Update

INDIA AUTHENTIC #1 / Ganesha hits the stands on May 9th 2007

Google Analytics added to mohaps.com


I added google analytics code to better track the hit stats on www.mohaps.com., which shall help me identify the traffic pattern on this site.

I upgraded my plan with my hosting service to support better bandwidth and am planning on adding a section with a daily comic strip that I am writing and drawing right now sometime in the next month.

So watch this space and keep visiting. :)

As of now the hit stats (collected from the Simple PHP blog stat counter) are:

Total: 23,012
Today: 6
Yesterday: 296

Desi Kapow – Comic Books and India


Foreword

Last year I had gone back to my hometown of Bhubaneshwar in India and the annual book fare of which i have many fond memories was on. There was one stall where a notice kind of stood out at me. It said basically if you are a “writer” please sign up and receive a copy of a directory of other writers / publishers based in Orissa, my home state.

With my heart racing I approached the grim looking gentleman at the desk and our conversation some what went like this

ME: Hi, ummmm … I am a writer.
GRIM LOOKING GENTLEMAN: So?
ME: well… nothing much… the notice…err…says to sign up …
GLG (makes a face like he has just smelt a turd which had been mellowing since the days of Mohenjadaro-Harrappa): What do you write?
ME: Well.. I write for Virgin Comics
GLG (starts laughing like i told him that i have three tits): He He! Sorry serious writers only!

So that got me thinking about something i had posted on my blog long ago. Hence I decided to put it here on my new blog.

This is a reprint of a post from my old blog on sulekha.com. It was first posted on Aug 3 2006 5:28PM, so please keep that in mind while reading this. :)Also this was prior to me being aware of something called Virgin Comics

DESI KAPOW – Comic Books and India


A Funny thing happenned while I was trying to post this. I could not find a category suitable to post this in. So I chose to go with the positively ambivalent Books/Other.

That kind of illustrates the point i wish to make. We in India have embraced every other form of literary expression be it blogs, hardcore music, gritty filmmaking but we have still a long way to go in terms of our adoption of the Graphic Fiction and its ilk as a mainstream story telling medium.

I loved comics ever since i could make sense of colors. I grew up with Amar Chitra Katha, Chacha Chaudhury , Phantom, Mandrake etc. being duly provided to an indian audience by a diamond comics or an indrajal comics.


There were the high end stuff like Archies, Disney stuff and i think one called Dalton Comics which republished DC characters like Superman / batman and superboy

then one day it all vanished. All you could find were the uber expensive Asterix and Tintin comic books on newsstands. Could it be that the market for comics vanished overnight.

I think not. Raj comics and its hindi heartland panderings to ripped off Marvel/DC characters still sells. We have Gotham Comics picking up the slack where Dalton Comics left off. Aha! we also have Spiderman India :)

But seriously what does the public think of comics as such. Would an indian ever view Art Spigelmann’s masterpiece “Maus” as a serious work of literature or marvel (pun not intended) at the magnificience of storytelling of “Sandman : Preludes and Nocturnes”

We still view comics as banal. May be the canteen frequenting / gold flake chhotta smoking budding intellectual is ashamed to be viewed as someone who still reads the purile juvenile stuff… aha! there in lies the conundrum. I have been an indie comics creator for around two years now. I have never experienced a medium that gives you so much freedom in storytelling be it serious or humorous

In my mind comic books / graphic novels get the best of both worlds in terms of books and movies. On one hand you have the leisure of a novel writer to pace and set your characters just where you want them and on the other you have the added advantage of a movie maker to put visual clues (refering to the age old maxim a picture is worth a thousand words :) )

I buy indian comic books whenever i can find them. Recently i picked up an issue of Bollywood : The Chase from Orchid Graphics. The product was visually slick but suffered from dearth of content depth. It featured a saif ali khan look alike for a hero who did everything but sing and dance. I shall still buy the next one though :)

For example, we invented the brooding angry young man and RGV Film Factory produces much grittier stuff every mnth than Frank miller can think of in a lifetime.. still we have no graphic novels in that mode. It pains me a lot. How would I love to pick up a comic book based in India with Indian characters and featuring the same depth and diversity of content as do our films and books. There is much room here for creativity.

If you are like me & like the escapism and fantasy that comic books offer, do take a moment to raise your voice and be heard. It is high time india got its own in terms of the graphic story telling medium. If you are a creator do think about doing your next piece in this medium and I would love to hook up with an artist for some ideas I am kicking around…

till next time

Biff! Zap! Kapow! and up up & away!

mohaps

Worklog Updates


Work has been good last week.. working on DEVI #11 and #12 and couple of new issues for INDIA AUTHENTIC (#3 and #4). Juggling the issues and even managing some cycles of downtime for writing other stuff.

started work on a novel, more updates on that later.

till next time

cheers
mohaps

Gmail Paper… Google's new april fool's prank… :D i think

For those of you who missed appointment in Google’s moon base couple of years back..

there is GMail Paper :D

Even April Fool’s pranks (at least that’s what i think this is) from Google are so innovative… hats off to them.

update:

Is google going for a double blind? this one looks like the obvious april fool’s joke :)

Google TiSP

Damn you Warren Ellis ( for making Transmetropolitan so goddamn addictive :D )

nope this is NOT an april’s fool day prank. I spent the last three days running back and forth to the shrewsbury public library trying to return and rent TRANSMETROPOLITAN tpb’s since they have a max. two books by author limit.

TRANSMETROPOLITAN imho simply Ellis at his acerbic best. It hit me hard, i mean literally. You know sometimes after you have read or watched something, you get that feeling in your gut like Muhammed Ali just rammed his fist into your guts?

Last time I had that feeling was when I had watched the movie THE INSIDER by Michael Mann starring Russel Crowe, that one made me quit ciggies for three whole days.

Transmetropolitan is a work so sublime and powerful that it really makes you think… It is something that should be made required reading as soon as a kid makes the age for the mature book, but then that would go against everything the book stands for.

To sum up, Transmetropolitan is the epitome of the manic anarchism that seems to peek through every single one of Ellis’s works, but this time he manages to fire away with all cyllinder’s blazing.

PS: I read TPB’s 1-8 and am desperately hunting the system for the last 2 (9 and 10 in case you are from spider jerusalem’s world and have not received the trait for basic arithmetic :D)

UPDATE:

I have managed to secure the 9th and 10th issues of TRANSMET from my library and boy! the ending is SPECTA-FREAKIN CULAR.

Warren Ellis, your mental amps go all the way to eleven!