Exclusive: Comic Con India founder Jatin Varma shares his vision for CCI’s Publishing house

The convention that was started out as an experiment back in 2011 in the capital city of India – Delhi, Comic Con India, celebrated its 10 years journey in the month of February. Over the decade, Comic Con has grown by leaps and bounds becoming one of the biggest pop-culture events taking place in India where everything related to the comic world could be seen; right from comic books to cosplayers to merchandisers and more.

To celebrate this milestone, Comic Con India (CCI) showcased various videos of all the creators and partners that participated during the first ever show held in 2011 along with its behind-the-scenes moments. Legendary creator and writer Aabid Surti (Bahadur, Dabooji), Amar Chitra Katha executive editor Reena Puri, Vimanika Comics founder and publisher Karan Vir Arora, Raj Comics co-creator Sanjay Gupta are some of the creators who were a part of the video commemorations. 

Furthermore, as part of their 10th Anniversary New Initiatives, CCI announced the start of Comic Con India Publishing. To know more about this initiative, AnimationXpress got in touch with Comic Con India founder Jatin Varma who is spearheading this publishing unit along with CCI’s content team.

Jatin Varma

Talking about what made CCI venture into the publishing world, Varma says, “This was something that was part of our plans for a few years now and we had discussions around this with many creators. Finally, with our 10th year kicking off, we decided to start this off.”

This gives the creators the opportunity to focus on getting the comic ready while Comic Con will bear the rest of the expenses like getting the comic published and distributed. It will be a “rev-share” model for everyone involved. 

Over the years we have witnessed many artists venturing into the comic space and not being able to sustain themselves. Explaining the reason behind this and how CCI will be addressing it, Varma comments, “Publishing is a hard business and the same is applicable for comic book publishing. Unless a creator has signed on with an established publisher, it is difficult to get published and distributed in the regular trade. Obviously, digital publishing is always an option, but even then publicising and marketing your book remains difficult. With our resources, we felt that we could make a difference and help.”

CCI plans to publish at least three to five comic books/graphic novels in the initial calendar year 2021.

Now the question arises is what kind of content works the best in the Indian market? Varma states, “Honest answer – no one really knows, because other than comics for younger kids, no one has published a variety of local content consistently. We are hoping we’ll have some data on this in the coming years, once we have published a variety of genres.”

Compared to 10 years ago, Varma mentions that the current Indian comic industry is certainly in a better place. There is consistency in publishing new content and there is also a group of dedicated creators which helps new entrants take the plunge.

“What has happened over the past few years is that creators have understood that their characters and stories have to go beyond just the physical book,” notes Varma. “They have to learn how to leverage their IP and in the past few years, we have slowly started seeing licensing deals being cracked and live-action adaptations of Indian comic books being attempted. And everyone is now trying to move in this direction.”

Will we be witnessing Comic Con this year? An optimistic Varma says, “As of now, all I can say is that we are hopeful that large scale live events will be allowed back. Our industry was the very first to be shut down and we always knew we would also be the last set of businesses to be allowed back. We are hopeful that with the pandemic ebbing down and vaccinations starting off, we may have the ability to host our events if not later this year, then early next year.”

We congratulate Comic Con India on this new initiative and wish the best to the upcoming comic book/graphic novel creators.