What does one do when faced with terror? Well, if you are a superhero in Mumbai, you gang up with fellow citizens and take on the terrorist. Set against the backdrop of the Mumbai terror attacks, the opening chapter of a comic series, Shaurya, unites a group of mysteriously ‘gifted’ young Indians to take on the might of a globe-spanning terrorist organisation.
The five teenagers, coming from different parts of the country, also have to overcome their personal differences and emerge as a unified front against the ubiquitous presence of terrorist organizations.
“The series is intended to reverberate with the youth of India... rebellious, at times anti-social and definitely flawed. The opening episode has a larger-than-life feel to it as our heroes gather to face off against an enemy who has sworn to see them destroyed, in a battle that will set the course for the epic saga that lies ahead,” says Shreyas Srinivas, partner-business operations.
One book, three stories
Shaurya is part of the 80-page monthly comic anthology magazine called Comic JUMP, which aims to merge seamless storytelling with world-class visual art. The magazine, which belongs to Level 10 Comics (a division of Level 10 Studios) is the brainchild of Shreyas Srinivas and Suhas Sundar. The venture is self-funded for now, but the partners are on the lookout for silent partners.
The first edition of the series, which was recently released across India, comprises three stories: zombies in Bangalore, superheroes in Mumbai and demon hunters in ancient India. “At the onset, some themes may seem familiar, because we didn’t want to launch with something esoteric. We decided to take popular themes and set them in an Indian context. If the market responds, we’re very open to doing something completely over-the-top,” says Srinivas.
The format of the magazine is largely inspired by successful comic anthologies from across the globe such as 2000AD from England, Pilote from France and Shonen Jump from Japan. These anthologies carry multiple stories in a single magazine and their serialised format, that appears every month, engages readers for a longer period of time. However, there are some flaws.
“Serialised storytelling in comic format is unexplored, at least in India. The obvious disadvantage is that fans have to wait for a month before they can get the next issue. But it’s a format that’s worked across the globe and it’ll be interesting to see if it works here,” says Srinivas.
All stories are fictitious, though there are references to real-life events. “Shaurya is set in a B-School in Mumbai. So Mumbai will definitely play a very important part in all our issues. I personally did my MBA in Mumbai and worked with Hindustan Unilever in the city. So it is very close to my heart,” says Srinivas.
For future editions too, the duo are on the lookout for ideas that are unique or at least presented uniquely. “There have been too many retellings of Hanuman and Mahabharata, and though these epics present a treasure trove of stories, we’d like to explore something beyond that,” says Srinivas.
What to expect
JUMP will be a monthly anthology. Each magazine will have 84 pages and will be priced at Rs 60. The magazine will comprise of three distinct genre titles/stories, each having 22-to-25 pages of content.
For example, the first edition has a mythological story set in ancient India, a superhero story set in Mumbai and a zombie story based in Bangalore. Each storyline will be episodic in nature and will continue over 5-6 issues to make a complete season.
Collaborators can send their ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org . “Regardless of their background or age, we just want ideas that are unique or at least presented uniquely, “ says Srinivas.
The partners also intend on engaging fans right from the go. The online community is a big part of that. Srinivas adds, “We want to hear from them about what worked for them and what didn’t. This is one of the reasons why we have included a feedback voting mechanism on our website. We don’t want to force feed our concepts of what stories are good and what aren’t.”