Fans interact with a person dressed as the eponymous protagonist from alan Moore’s graphic novel, V for Vendetta.(Aalok Soni)
Fans interact with a person dressed as the eponymous protagonist from alan Moore’s graphic novel, V for Vendetta.(Aalok Soni)

From DC to Marvel to Ravana, Mumbai Comic Con 2018 is a most ambitious crossover event

Will Conrad, an artist who has worked with two legendary comic houses, and Cosplay Queen Yaya Han are the international stars this time
By Ramakrishnan M | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON DEC 23, 2018 12:36 AM IST

Walk into the eighth edition of Comic-Con in Goregaon and you can expect to see Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy, Wolverine from the X-Men, The Mask, Minions and Japanese manga’s Inuyasha.

Fans try on a replica of the glove used by Thanos (the villain from the last Avengers movie) and gather to discuss Vivek Goel’s Ravanayan, a graphic novel take on the Ramayana with Ravana as its protagonist.

Cosplay artist Yaya Han interacts with fans at Mumbai Comic Con 2018 (Aalok Soni)
Cosplay artist Yaya Han interacts with fans at Mumbai Comic Con 2018 (Aalok Soni)

There’s a significant international element this year too — Yaya Han, a Chinese-American dubbed the Queen of Cosplay, poses and waves in her blonde wig and Barbie getup. The comic-book artist Will Conrad, who has worked with both Marvel and DC, is here. And so is 44-year-old Sergio Simão, a visa officer with the Brazilian consulate in Mumbai.

Simão’s been in Mumbai for four months and, as he does in each posting, is using his Instagram account (@s.i.mao) to promote local comic art talent. “I’m a big fan of the genre,” he says. “The language of comics is universal and free of form.”

Conrad talks about how he used to think comic book artists drew all their panels in the size they were published. “These guys are insane, I thought. I didn’t know all of them were drawn on a bigger frame and resized.”

Will Conrad at Comic Con Mumbai. (Aalok Soni)
Will Conrad at Comic Con Mumbai. (Aalok Soni)

From being inspired by Michelangelo’s representation of the human form, to Norman Rockwell’s faces and expressions, Conrad found his own niche pencilling and inking panels for Buffy: The Vampire Slayer with comic book writer-turned-director and producer, Joss Whedon. Conrad’s big break came in 2007, through a TV reality show called Who Wants to Be a Superhero? hosted by the legendary co-founder of Marvel, Stan Lee. Conrad went on to create comic panels for everything from X-Men to Black Panther.

In India for the first time, he says he’s surprised by “the number of geeks at the venue”.

Mumbai, India - 22nd December 2018:- Visitors and cosplay participants at Comic Con Mumbai. (Aalok Soni)
Mumbai, India - 22nd December 2018:- Visitors and cosplay participants at Comic Con Mumbai. (Aalok Soni)

Outside artist Sumit Kumar’s stall, Simão points to one frame as an example of how similar the satire is to Brazilian humour. In his free time, he adds, he records Mumbai’s graffiti in photographs.

“I find comics offer more meaning because they free you from the pigeonholes of everyday routine,” he says. “And I try to record things painted on walls because they might not be there the next day.”

Navya Rao, 16, and Shripad Pradhan, 17, two first-timers at Comic-Con already have their hands full with merchandise and cannot stop bobbing their heads at the overload of geekery. “It’s much better than we thought,” Pradhan says.

For Rohit Bhatia, 28, who has been a regular for four years this is the one place where comic nerds and people with similar pop culture tastes can congregate. “But there’s definitely scope for improvement,” he says. “It used to be more about comics than merchandise before.”

Gaurav Basu, 31, a graphic artist from Bengaluru has been a Comic-Con attendee since 2012. This time around, he has his own stall selling books and posters donned with his artwork. “It has definitely come full circle,” he says.

(Comic-Con is on at Nesco Exhibition Centre in Goregaon on December 21 and 22. Passes cost 499 per head)

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