BuzzFeed recently compiled a list of “21 Indian Graphic Novels That Should Be On Your Reading List” and four of my books (including two books I wrote for Virgin Comics) featured on it – Mumbai Confidential, Moon Mountain, Devi and The Sadhu.
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. 🙂
Last time I was there we were all sitting at pretty much the same table and this time around the seating order was not much changed. I haven’t had this much fun just shooting the breeze since college. 🙂 So thanks guys, look forward to next time.
Also managed to sell some stuff : DEVI vol 3 TPB, Sadhu Silent Ones TPB and the Mumbai Confidential Preview. As usual, the conn drew a pretty comics savvy crowd and it was a real pleasure chatting with the fans.
Towards the end, I walked around and traded books with other pros attending. Mark Holmes gave me a smashing print that I shall be scanning and putting up on the blog soon-ish. Jackie drew me a DEVI pinup that she couldn’t complete on time, so looking forward to receiving that in mail sometime soon (will post scan as soon as I have it). Paul Harding also sketched a mean Punisher for my con sketchbook.
Below are some cellphone snaps I took while the conn was going on in no particular order.
When i started writing comics, I’d make short photo collages to help visualize the page/panel layout and caption spaces etc. these were rough visual guidelines, which I’d then translate to a script.
click on the images for larger versions
Shown here are pages from DEVI #11 (W: Saurav Mohapatra / A: Edison George / E: Ron Marz). I never send these roughs to the artist. But Edison George’s final pages came pretty close to what I had visualized. With experience I have learned to keep the visualization phase completely in mental space, though from time to time, I do try to draw either stick figure layouts or do a photo collage before scripting the page.
It is my belief that a comic book writer should never enforce their view of what goes in a page to the artist. That is simply a very stifling experience for the artist and not a true collaboration. But sometimes if enough thought and TLC is put into the page design by the writer, most probably the artist would come up with the same or very similar solutions to the layout. After all it takes two (both writer and artist) to make a comic book 🙂
Mumbai Macguffin is sort of like Three Days of Condor meets Slumdog Millionaire meets Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 😛
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Writer: Saurav Mohapatra
Artist: Saumin Patel
A high-octane adventure through the never-before-seen underbelly of Mumbai, ace CIA operative Ike Flint finds himself out of his element and out of his depth when tasked with recovering a downed NSA satellite deep within the biggest slum in Asia. None of his experience can prepare him for the wild and dangerous characters his salvage uncovers: a wheelchair-riding gangster kingpin hooked on John Wayne westerns; a brilliant bar dancer who can solve calculus problems before breakfast; a trigger-happy cop who shoots criminals with the same nonchalance as if he were grocery shopping; a religious cult that will do anything to protect its phallic totem; and a crack team of Jihadists searching for the very thing Ike is seeking.
I recently did an interview with Mukesh Singh (DEVI, Gamekeeper, Shadow Hunter) for Comics Waiting Room.
Mukesh was the artist for issues 1-5 of DEVI for Virgin comics and then moved on to Gamekeeper and Shadow Hunter. He was a Russ Manning award nominee for promising newcomer artist at San Diego Comic-Con 2008.
Currently he is working on the concept art for the MBX webisodes scripted by Grant Morisson.
On a personal note, even though I never directly worked with him, I’m a big fan of his work and believe that the comics world will be hearing more of his name in the near future.
The interview is online now and can be read here.
Saumin Patel, my collaborator on Mumbai Macguffin and Devi has posted a lot of the behind the scenes type artwork showing the evolution of the concept visually. Do check it out at his blog/portfolio site – http://pictorialcinema.blogspot.com/
He also has the art of one of my favorite DEVI stories (the KRATHA short from DEVI #11). Scroll down to see it.
[digg-reddit-me]I received my comp copy of DEVI vol 4 TPB collecting issues 16-20 of Virgin Comics’ DEVI (created by Shekhar Kapur and your truly as writer) in the mail yesterday. It feature a cover by Luke Ross (SAMURAI : HEAVEN and EARTH). G. Willow Wilson (CAIRO, AIR) was kind enough to write a warm foreword. (Thanks, Willow!).
It should be available in comic book stores and shall be available for purchase at Amazon.com and other retailers soon. In the meanwhile it can be purchased from the Virgin Comics Store
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.