Saurav Mohapatra - comic book writer

author, artist and bona fide geek

Category: India Authentic (page 1 of 5)

Deepak Chopra presents INDIA AUTHENTIC

Blast from the past and other updates :)

I got my first big break writing comics when I cold pitched Gotham Chopra, EiC of Virgin Comics in 2006 after reading a news article on his foray into India themed comics. Luckily, he liked my spec script (what’d later become INDIA AUTHENTIC #2 – KALI) and signed me up to write a series of Indian mythological stories with forewords by Deepak Chopra. Somewhere down the line, I was offered DEVI and THE SADHU and then onward to some stories based on characters and storylines I cooked up (e.g. MUMBAI MACGUFFIN and JIMMY ZHINGCHAK – AGENT OF D.I.S.C.O.. It was a work for hire gig (meaning I don’t own the rights to any of the stuff I created), but it was great fun while it lasted. I got to work with industry legends like Ron Marz, built up a decent sized portfolio and got to work with some awesome artists like Sid Kotian, Saumin Patel, Dean Hyrapiet, Abhishek Singh and Shounak Jog etc. I also became friends with other writers/artists working on the Virgin titles like Samit Basu, Mukesh Singh and Vivek Shinde. The Virgin editorial staff consisted of seasoned industry hands like MacKenzie Cadenhead (WOLVERINE: SNINKT) and Mariah Huehner (LUCIFER), movie industry veterans like Seth Jaret and a bunch of young energetic first timers like Sana Amanat, Michelle Gomes and Gaurav Sikka.

Then came the event that we, the Virgin Comics alumni, jokingly refer to as “The Great Deflowering” and just like that, Virgin was no more. The founders of Virgin Comics, namely Sharad Devrajan, Suresh Seetharaman and Gotham, effected a management buyout of the Virgin portfolio sometime later and came back as Liquid Comics. I did a few more work for hire gigs for them and also branched out to doing one off gigs for Moonstone (PHANTOM), Top Cow (WITCHBLADE). Vivek and I went on to create our creator owned project MUMBAI CONFIDENTIAL and I had some hijinks/misadventures with some other Indian publishers on work for hire projects.

All in all, I look back very fondly of my time spent with Virgin Comics and I greatly appreciate Sharad, Suresh and Gotham giving me the chance to write comics (I mean write freakin’ comic books and get paid doing it! :) ). My dayjob (as a co-founder of the web conferencing startup Dimdim) started taking more of my time as did my two kids – Ayan and Adya. So I dialed down the writerly activities a lot in 2010 – 2011 and regrouped. MUMBAI CONFIDENTIAL started gaining traction (in no small measure because of Vivek’s fantastic art) and I also started working with Siddharth Panwar on DHURANDHAR – a modern day magic realism tale set in small town India.

So, I was pleasantly surprised recently when Liquid Comics launched Graphic India – a digital comics platform aimed at India. Featured were two of my books – MUMBAI MACGUFFIN (an action-adventure-comedy caper which was co-created with Saumin and inspired in no small measure by Guy Ritchie’s movies SNATCH and LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS) and MYTHS OF INDIA (a repackaged INDIA AUTHENTIC). I always considered the old Virgin Comics gang kindred spirits who wished to bring kick-ass comics to India and Graphic India is a great reinforcement of that belief. So I wish them the best of luck. (Do check out Samit and Jeevan Kang’s UNHOLI – an original serialized digital comic book exclusively created for the site).

To top off the week’s great news, Times of India posted their list of notable Indian comics and turns out two of my books – DEVI and MUMBAI CONFIDENTIAL made it to the list. So that was just delicious icing on the cake. :)

INDIA AUTHENTIC Returns

My very first comics gig for Virgin/Liquid was a series of one shots titled DEEPAK CHOPRA presents INDIA AUTHENTIC. IA dealt with stories from Indian mythology and each issue featured a story about a member of the Hindu Pantheon. Deepak Chopra provided a lead-in/write-up about the featured story.

I wrote 15 issues in total and it was a fun gig while it lasted. I like to think of IA as “Amar Chitra Katha on steroids” :) IA #15 KRISHNA, my last issue, was kind of lost in the turmoil surrounding the demise of Virgin Comics, or so I thought. Looks like the whole IA line is now available from as MYTHS OF INDIA. The issue #1 GANESHA is a free read and others are a dollar each.

And GANESHA has been featured on scribd.

For handy browsing, here’s a collection I made of all the issues I could find.

K.I.S.S. Me, you fool!

My fingers tap on the typewriter keys – a staccato clattering like a spastic with a tommy gun, in perfect cadence with my stuttering thoughts. There it all is – a symphony made out of the slow start building into a crescendo as I feel clarity and then the pregnant pause as my mind lulls.

Blah Blah Blah!

Well, I could’ve just written, “I’m typing as I think.” Somehow couldn’t resist the temptation for “Purple Prose”. When I started writing comic books, my first break was INDIA AUTHENTIC, a retelling of Indian myths and legends preceded by a foreword from Deepak Chopra (yes, THE Deepak Chopra). Given the subject matter and Deepak’s reputation, my first few issues I veered towards high and haughty sounding words and phrases. The pieces were caption heavy and I tried my best to make sure they sounded lofty.

During that time I had the good fortune of working with Ron Marz (GREEN LANTERN, WITCHBLADE, SAMURAI : HEAVEN & EARTH) and as I’ve mentioned before I learned a lot about the craft. Ron is a great believer in K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid!). One of my titles that he edited was THE SADHU, about a British soldier in colonial India in the 19th century who has a spiritual awakening and becomes a mystic warrior. My story took James Jensen, the protagonist beyond the realms of the physical on a journey that eventually ended within himself. I used James as the narrator of the series and my first draft carried on the style of my first few INDIA AUTHENTIC books and I thought myself to be the Cat’s Pajamas.

But after a few discussions with Ron on the first draft, I realized that I was actually making a title that was kind of alien to the American reader in the first place, further obtuse by my purple prose. Obscurity is often mistaken as profundity in this world of ours, and frequently dropping words like Karma, Dharma, Cosmic Synergy does not equate a tale well told.

Less is always more. A comic book in particular has the assist of the visual storytelling of the artist, so the writer can counterpoint that by using simpler language that don’t cause the reader pause breaking his suspension of disbelief. Simple doesn’t equate to flat storytelling. Hemingway wrote magnificent works of literature and perhaps the best display of dialogue based narrative. He rarely used the so-called Million Dollar Words. His language was simple, accessible and had a cadence of its own. Elmer Leonard’s novels and the narrative techniques he uses are based on simple building blocks, yet he crafts a masterful body of work from those ingredients.

In comic books, perhaps the best example of simple language creating an unforgettable mental image is the opening of ALL STAR SUPERMAN by Grant Morrison (DC). We’ve been told the origin of Superman so many times in different media, but Morrison is downright majestic in the way he uses four simple phrases to sum up eight plus decades of mythos. (picture below)

“Doomed planet. Desperate Scientists. Last Hope. Kindly Couple.”

Try and beat that!

Till we meet again,

Toodles!

mohaps

UPDATE
Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing – aka Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodlehttp://www.kabedford.com/archives/000013.html

Repost from my previous Nine Panel Grid column at Comics Waiting Room.

Belated Find : Some radical India Authentic love

Well, I think I found this a year or so too late. http://nenena.livejournal.com/126717.html

Thanks for the kind words, Nenena. It is much appreciated. These are the moments a writer lives for :)

An excerpt:

The modern heir to Amar Chitra Katha, India Authentic comics are effing fantastic: A combination of spiritual lesson, high adventure tale, and artgasm after artgasm. All are fronted by Deepak Chopra’s poetic introductions. But the best part is the writing by Saurav Mohapatra. Mohapatra gets inside the heads of the gods and gives them voices that sound all-too-human; which is exactly what the Hindu gods, flawed and imperfect as they sometimes are, should sound like.

Read the whole post

Read India Authentic #1 Ganesha and #2 Kali for Free

Liquid Comics has put India Authentic #1 GANESHA and #2 KALI online at Issuu.com. It came out back in 2007 and was my first ever gig :) so special place in my heart.

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India_Authentic_%28comics%29

DEEPAK CHOPRA PRESENTS INDIA AUTHENTIC is a series of one shots reimagining Indian myths and legends for an international audience.

Issue #1 GANESHA
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Issue #2 KALI
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Mumbai Confidential cover

So here’s a cover mockup for Mumbai Confidential

About Mumbai Confidential

Mumbai Confidential is a crime noir comic book series created by writer Saurav Mohapatra (DEVI, SADHU, MUMBAI MACGUFFIN, INDIA AUTHENTIC, JIMMY ZHINGCHAK) and artist Vivek Shinde (PROJECT: KALKI, SNAKEWOMAN) set in (of course!) the Indian city of Mumbai.

a lovely blog post about India Authentic

Google Alerts popped up a link to this blog post about India Authentic vol 1. Book of Shiva.

http://becomingicha.blogspot.com/2008/07/im-in-love.html

Interview by Venetia Ansell of "Sanskrit Literature"

I was recently interviewed by Venetia Ansell, who runs the “Sanskrit Literature” blog, about India Authentic and the retelling of ancient Indian myths for a new generation.

Here’s the link to the full interview.

Sequential Tart Interview

I was recently interviewed by Rebecca Buchanan of Sequential Tart. Here is the link to the interview.

NYCC documentary

While attending NYCC ’08, I was approached by Luis Medina, a filmmaker who was making a documentary about [sic] “People of color in comics”. While I made my views clear on that “classification” (the only part that made it into the final cut is at 02:06 on the video), it was kind of interesting to discuss about the role of race/ethinicty in the kind of stories we tell.

I stand by the views I expressed in the documentary i.e. a writer is not defined as an Indian writer or a latin american writer or a caucasian writer. There are good writers and then there are bad writers. :)

Watch it with an open mind and hope you enjoy it.

Video Link

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