Yesterday, the Indian comic book industry lost a true gem. The industry is shaken and so are we at AnimationXpress. World-renowned artist Dheeraj Verma took his last breath on 7 June. He is survived by his wife and two young daughters.
He was suffering from pulmonary fibrosis and was undergoing treatment at Max Hospital Saket, Delhi. He tested positive for COVID on 21 April and was in the ICU for 39 days.
Being hospitalised didn’t dampen his spirits. He kept creating sketches and shared his artwork on social media handles. He was a true fighter and his demise has shocked many.
He was born on 22 October 1967 and spent more than 25 years creating great art in comics. He joined Raj Comics in 1993 where he created the famous and iconic wolfman character Bheriya. He is well known for his illustration works in Wolfano, Grahano, Lazy, Tilangey and many more which were huge hits of the time. In 2004, Verma winged his way to America and made his entry into the closed cabal world of American comics – and is often credited as being the first Indian to take that leap. Some of his famous works include: Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Escape of the Living Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Plague of the Living Dead. He also did the variant cover for Marvel Comics’ Iron Man 2.0 #1. His website states that Verma has worked on over 350 comics and has a record of 100,800 working hours.
On 10 April, AnimationXpress had the opportunity to work closely with him while organising the CBAM Summit. He was a part of the advisory committee and took a master class during the summit. He talked about his plans on how to propel this industry further and mentioned that he would like to establish a comic books association in India to bring talented artists and creators together and get the industry to attain its rightful place under the sun.
It’s hard for people to believe that he is no longer with us. “I woke up to a shocking news today that Dheeraj Verma – my close friend is no more. Just unable to come to terms with this news. Dheeraj was a great human being and artist par-excellence. He always held the Indian Comics Art flag high. His comic art, style and expressions were liked and respected by global legends too. India has lost one of the greatest artist of contemporary comics art form of the era. Dheeraj was a man of few words, but his art and big smile expressed everything. He will continue to live in our hearts forever,” expressed Punnaryug Artvision founder Ashish S Kulkarni.
Fenil Comics founder Fenil Sherdiwala shared with us, “It’s very sad news for the Indian comics industry. In one sentence, we lost a gem. I have been reading comics since I was a kid and he has illustrated one of my most favourite Indian characters, Jangaroo from Fort Comics. He was also a good mentor and friend of mine. He was the one to suggest that we buy publishing rights of foreign comics and publish them in Indian languages. I lost my mentor. We regularly discussed the future of Indian comics once or twice a month. Sad news. Om Shanti.”
“I remember the time when I met Dheeraj sir in the first Comic Con India 2011 during the launch of Ravanayan comic book. I loved his works as I have read the books with his amazing art style. I wanted to take a picture with him and when I approached him, without any second thought he said ‘yes’. I also remember how I fumbled while talking to him and he just laughed. He was a very humble and down to earth person. His works will always be an inspiration for me,” said indie game developer and comic book artist Yogesh Pugaonkar.
“Dheeraj had a dream that the lot of Indian artists needs to be raised,” said AnimationXpress India founder, chairman and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari. “He wanted to do so many things for the comics book industry. We had heard he was recovering and we were looking forward to working together again on training talent on the finer nuances of comic art and illustration that are so important when working internationally, as well on an association for the industry. I regret that he will not be there in person to see those and other dreams being realised. Indian comic books publishers and artists should however go ahead and see what had been planned to its logical conclusion in honour of Dheeraj. Om Shanti!”
The Beast Legion creator Jazyl Homavazir shared, “I never met him in person, but despite that, every chat we had, he was always super enthusiastic and supportive.” He has also shared the artwork done by Verma on his Instagram account (shared below).
Dheeraj Verma is truly a legend gone too soon. We offer our sincere condolences to his family.
View this post on Instagram