Indian Decade

“Cool India” Embraces ComicCon

Indians used to grow up relying on Western sources for comic inspiration. But that’s starting to change.

The Indian demographic dividend – the disproportionately large number of young people making up India’s population – definitely has huge policy and economic implications.

Culturally, too, this demographic dividend is manifesting itself in a myriad of fun ways. And there’s definitely a confident “cool India” vibe about today’s school and college students.

Take the ComicCon held in Delhi this weekend. Homegrown graphic novels and comic books have become a buzzing segment of publishing in India, and a clutch of independent publishing houses and comics companies have been crafted to cater to this trend.

ComicCon, essentially a convention of comics, was started last year by Jatin Varma, himself a creative entrepreneur. I managed to visit the convention last year and again this weekend. It’s easy to see the growth – exhibitors, new launches, interactive sessions and audiences all seemed to have more than doubled since the first edition last year.

What was most heartening about the convention this time around were the unique Indian tales and characters that many of the comic book publishers and graphic novels seemed to focus on, and even revel in. More than ever before, there seem to be a growing number of Indian characters and stories – drawn from a vast treasure of Indian mythology – that have been adapted for young children and adults.

Certainly, among the young children at the convention, the stall that was most popular was the one that sold merchandise from a TV show called Chotta Bheem. But I was more interested in picking up a Sufi made simple kind of graphic novel that apart from being wickedly irreverent is also totally Indian in the English metaphors it uses.

Growing up, our TV fix was limited to cartoons from the United States and Enid Blyton’s many books. It’s wonderful that young Indians today have great fresh stories of their own to enjoy, too.