CBAM Summit: Are kids still leaning towards physical comic books?

Evolving is the key to sustainability. Many are living in the myth that Comic books are dying. But is it? Factually, even today people are reading them or consuming them in another kind of format, so comic books definitely still have an audience. Even after that if someone is not convinced, all they need to head to comic books conventions.

CBAM Summit session, Forever Young, moderated by FICCI chairman of AVGC Forum and Punnaryug Artvision founder Ashish Kulkarni along with panellist Tinkle editor-in-chief Kuriakose Vaisian, Press India managing editor (Children’s publishing division) and co-founder of The Bridge Richa Shah, Mayapuri Group CEO Shekhar Chopra, Diamond Comics advisor Bharat Gauba and Diamond Comics director Aanshul Verma discussed how comics is evolving and what will be the way forward.

We need to understand why people are thinking that comics are dying? The very first thing comes in mind how fast the digital life is transforming and since comic books is an old school concept, many people are thinking that it is dying and it will be unable to sustain in the digital zephyr.

Speaking of the challenges, Chopra shared, “Over the years we have seen kids of metro cities, like Delhi and all, are having real issues reading out or consuming good content in Hindi basically. They do read English magazine or something but reading habit in journal for comic books have gone down. This is where we are struggling to reach the young readers.”

Talking about the crucial challenges in the comic books market, Vaisian expressed, “In India the most challenging thing is to acquire new readers. I do feel the market is still there, the challenge might be reaching out to the kids on devices that they are comfortable with. Paper might not be the way to go.”

As we all know content is the king, the same goes with comics. For a successful comic books venture, colours, visual representation of the storyline are important as well as the storyline and the characterisation. Since audience reach drives the number of sales, therefore, narrower targeted audience will result poor sales. Therefore for the comic book publishers who have the wide range of targeted audience irrespective of age group, they will reach more audience and sales will maintain the consistency.

Verma shared, “As our companies tagline goes aath se aassi saal k bachhon ke liye (for kids from eight to 80 years) which means our comics are read by a wide range of audience irrespective of age. I disagree with the fact that comic books are dying and sales have gone down because the reality is that we are the only publishing house that has been afloat for all these years and not even a single day has gone when we haven’t been churning out comics and we are very periodically systematically releasing comics every month.”

Shah shared that since Champak has been a magazine which is more focused on stories rather comics therefore audience were more driven towards the storytelling, the emotion of the storyline than characterisation which they bring out to the children.

Gauba being the investor in the sector shared, “I do not see much comics in prints. Digital is evolving commercially but it will take time. Being into investment I do smell good money in IP and licensing. Comic books are kind of amusement, so, I feel if there is amusement then there is money (maaza hai to paisa hai).”

Overall the  session was quite insightful. The panelist discussed various aspect like how challenging is it to sustain solely on printed comic books in the digital age and also to acquire new readers, and how readers attention is going down. They also mentioned that if the comic content is entertaining and eye grabbing enough, it will earn good traction and profit. The eminent speakers also highlighted the fact that digital comics will be the way forward.