Tales from SDCC (Part 2) – Wonderful Willow Wilson and Magnificent M.K. Perker a.k.a My Life as a DC/Vertigo comic book character

Another day, another Tale from SDCC. 🙂 As I mentioned in my previous post about Phil Hester at SDCC ’06, I have some wonderful memories of the convention in the three years I’ve been there. As I get ready to attend my 4th straight year, here’s something that actually made me feel pretty special.

One day while we were chatting over IM, G. Willow Wilson (CAIRO, AIR, BUTTERFLY MOSQUE) fired off (what looked to me) an “unusual” query.

“Is Saurav a common Indian name?”

Hmm, considering I knew about 8 Saurav’s (different spellings included) during my school days and about 30 odd during college, my answer was the obvious.

“It’s common enough.”

I didn’t think much of it. Willow had then just released the critically acclaimed “CAIRO” with DC/Vertigo (with artist M.K. Perker) and was penning a (as of then) “secret project” (also to be drawn by MK) that went on to become the Eisner nominated ongoing series “AIR”. I read the first few issues of AIR and loved it. But that particular year was an “interesting” one for me not the least because I was slowly plunging into the wonderful world of fatherhood. Reading comics kind of percolates down to the bottom of the TODO list, superseded by more mundane tasks like changing diapers, midnight feedings and reading daycare brochures.

So fast forward to SDCC ’09. Willow is always a pleasure to chat with and She also did give me a most wonderful foreword for the DEVI vol 4 TPB too. Thus, I make it a point to swing by the DC/Vertigo booth at least once a day when she is signing to say “hi”.

So now wiser after my Phil Hester experience of SDCC ’06, I arrive at the DC/Vertigo booth armed with my sketchbook and as luck would have it MK was doing free sketches. I had never met MK before personally (though I’m a big fan of his work including the OGN “INSOMNIA CAFE” that he wrote and drew). So as Willow was doing the intro, she said something that blew my mind away.

Willow: Saurav, meet MK. MK, Saurav
MK: Ah, How do you spell your name?
Willow: Hey, you should know. Saurav is a character in AIR.

Wow! What? Did I hear that right?

Turns out, the reason Willow asked me if my first name was common enough earlier, was to include it in a line of dialogue where she needed an Indian first name. Heh, she had made me immortal, an eisner nominated DC/Vertigo comic book character no less. 😛 Here’s the panel in question.


click on the image for the full page scan

Heh, as I held my gaping jaw in place, MK then proceeded to draw me a sketch of Blythe from AIR (pictured below), with a nudge nudge wink wink reference to my fleeting fame as an off panel character.

So, thanks Willow and MK for making SDCC ’09 a special one and once again, thanks for the coolest thing ever. 🙂

As an aside, guess what’s the first thing I did when I came back home? Scoured my copy of AIR vol 1 TPB, to find the exact page where my name was mentioned, of course.

comic books I read – a (non-comprehensive) list

I usually read comics spanning quite an eclectic range and one rule that I have is picking each book based on what I feel about that particular story. Though that being said, I’m much more likely to pick up a issue #1 by Ed Brubaker, Warren Ellis or Greg Rucka blindly :).

So when someone asks me what books you like to read, it’s pretty tough to just say one or even five/six names. Currently my pull/read list consists of THE BOYS by Garth Ennis, AIR by G. Willow Wilson and UNWRITTEN by Mike Carey. Some of the other comics that I’ve read and really enjoyed (listed in no particular order) :

  • LAZARUS CHURCHYARD, TRANSMETROPOLITAN, PLANETARY, AUTHORITY and FELL by Warren Ellis and his run on Ultimate FF and IRON MAN : Extremis
  • PLANET HULK by Greg Pak
  • WOLVERINE LEGENDS v2: MELTDOWN by Walter Simonson
  • SWAMP THING, TOM STRONG. SUPREME and TOP TEN by Alan Moore
  • WOLVERINE: SNIKT! by Tsutomo Nihei
  • WALKING DEAD by Robert Kirkman
  • HITMAN, PREACHER by Garth Ennis and his PUNISHER run (especially WELCOME BACK FRANK)
  • THE PATH by Ron Marz
  • WAY OF THE RAT by Chuck Dixon
  • LUCIFER by Mike Carey
  • Frank Miller’s run on DAREDEVIL and DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN
  • Ed Brubaker’s run on DAREDEVIL and his work in CRIMINAL
  • Grant Morrison’s run on ANIMAL MAN
  • WHITEOUT and QUEEN & COUNTRY by Greg Rucka
  • MARVELS, SECRET IDENTITY and ASTRO CITY by Kurt Busiek
  • EMPIRE and KINGDOM COME by Mark Waid
  • POWERS by Brian M. Bendis
  • MIDNIGHT NATION by J. Michael Straczinsky
  • MARKED by Steve Ross

DEVI vol 4 (#16-20) TPB out

DEVI TPB vol 4[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

"Graven Images" and "Graphically Religious"

Yay! Attended the “Religion in Comics” panel hosted by BU as part of their “Graven Images” conference yesterday. Had a whale of a time with fellow panelists Mark Smylie (writer – ARTESIA, Publisher – ASP comics), G Willow Wilson (CAIRO), Steve Ross (writer/artist – MARKED). The panel was moderated by A. Dave Lewis (writer – LONE AND LEVEL SANDS, SOME NEW KIND OF SLAUGHTER).

We had a pretty hearty discussion about how religion is portrayed in comic books and the challenges that lie in writing comics with religious and spiritual themes. One of the most interesting parts of the conference was getting to know about the reaction to India authentic in academic circles. It makes all my efforts worthwhile when people walk up to meand tell him that they really liked the INDIA AUTHENTIC stories and that it is being made into required reading in south asian studies programs 🙂 (details to come).

Later that day, I attended my first ever signing at the BU Barnes and Noble where we continued our earlier discussion in more casual setting as part of the “Graphically Religious” author meet at B&N. Here is a photo from the signing (more to come).

Barnes and Noble signing
From left to right: Dave, Your truly, Willow, Steve and Mark
Graven Images panel at BU
From left to right: Me, Mark (photo courtsey : Dave Moran)
Graven Images panel at BU
From left to right: Willow, Dave, Me, Steve and Mark (photo courtsey : Dave Moran)