At the Comic Con, Some Found Comics, Some Got Conned
Was Comic Con Delhi 2015 just a shopping extravaganza?
What’s the difference between Comic Con and Sarojini Nagar? Not much at all.
At Comic Con Delhi 2015, there were a lot of shops, crowds and costumes. There were artists, writers and one or two firang celeb types. But all of them were dwarfed by the sheer, dare I say it, crass commercialism of the whole enterprise.
It wasn’t about the comics, no sir. It was all about the ‘merch’andise. And for the most part, we aren’t talking about rare collectibles. Stall after stall was crowded with people buying generic, mass-produced clothes clearly on a mission to look like a character out of The Big Bang Theory.
Perhaps this is what all Comic Cons are like. Having never been to one in the US, it is difficult to say. What was missing here though, was the convention aspect of the event. Fundamentally, the event is a place to be seen and to shop. It is not a space for connoisseurs.
But there were two silver linings, that made the event a huge success.
First, the section of stalls with Indian artists. It offered a chance to meet people like Sumit Kumar, author of Amar Bari, Tomar Bari, Naxalbari, a graphic novel that takes an irreverent, often hilarious look at the Naxal movement.
Or Dalbir, the creator of Sikh Park, an online comic that takes visual inspiration from South Park but is basically a series of seriously clever puns that will have anyone who is Punjabi, or knows Punjabis, laugh and say, “so true! I am always saying that.”
The stalls selling books were not crowded, not compared to the shops selling clocks and badly made t-shirts at any rate. But the people there were mostly children and teenagers, and they knew their stuff. They were buying more than just comic books about superheroes. These young people were into everything from Star Wars to LOTR and even somewhat adult books like Habibi and the works of Joe Sacco. Many of them were precocious and pretentious, as people passionate about reading and art can be.
That was the best part of Comic Con Delhi 2015, and the reason that the event can be so awesome. That, and the fact that I got to meet Hodor.
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