CBAM Summit : Day 2 of the summit witnesses the brighter and expansive side of comics industry

The second day of the CBAM Summit began with Animation Xpress CEO and editor in chief Anil Wanvari welcoming the attendees and panelists for another day long insightful sessions and roundtable conversations. 

Moderated by writer and Podcaster Vijayendra Mohanty, the panel on the The power of India’s diversity & languages included Fenil Comics founder Fenil Sherdiwala, Chintoo Comics co-creator Charuhas Pandit, ComicsbySatra creator Satrajit Choudhury, Graphic novelist & Illustrator Harsho Mohan Chattoraj and Amar Chitra Katha executive editor Reena Puri.

Speaking about his journey, Sherdiwala narrated, “At the age of twelve, I had created a superhero called ‘Faulaad‘ From designing and illustration, I had done everything. Every fan has a wish to create a character that they can present to the public. I took it seriously in year 2010 and launched my first comic book. A lot of people objected saying why I released it in Hindi. 2010 was the year when I started Fenil Comics; creating 6 superheroes. I also started a superhero named Prince in which I portrayed myself.”

The panel’s emergent theme was that the digital sales are working to the advantage of comics. Puri has worked with Amar Chitra Katha for over 30 years, having joined in the year 1991 with Anant Pai. She recounted, “At the time I was looking after Tinkle and it was being brought out in three languages. Mr. Pai was already getting it translated because he believed comics have to reach every child in the country. We did the biography of Manik Prabhu which was done in English but later translated into Kannada, Marathi and Telegu. We create the original content in English and side by side get it translated into regional languages. We recently did Mahabharat. Our original content is our heritage.” The panel echoed that the digital medium has indeed opened the gates of opportunities insofar as the proliferation of comic-verse goes.

Next session was an enlightening masterclass on “Comic Art & Writing” by International Comic Artists and Creator Of Bheriya Dheeraj Verma delved into how the story is moved with writing, characters, visuals and font style. 

This was followed by CBAM Summit’s next session The rise in cosplay industry moderated by game designer and cosplayer Vijay Sinha with panellist Filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist Sameer Bundela, professional concept and game artist Medha Srivastava, AltF4Cosplay lead costume design Stephanie Vander Heyden, Super Sugoii co-founder Rachita Saha, veterinarian and cosplayer Dr. Tanya Shringarpure to pour light on various aspects of cosplay. The panellist discussed about how they were introduced to Cosplay, what has been the challenges, how Covid19 impacted the cosplay market, trends and so on. The also share that showcasing the cosplay artistry should be the focus of cosplay artists as it helps to reach out and engage people even faster adding to that brands could identify and acquire for campaigns and promotion.

It was followed by that Kross Komics co-founder and CEO Thomas Kim who shared his viewpoints about the Korean and Indian comics market in Augmenting the Kross Culture. Kim mentioned that 90 per cent of Korean comics market has transitioned to digital with webtoons becoming a sensation and being a billion dollar+ industry. Kross Komics have 100 titles and 2mn downloads as of now. We’re looking at having 5mn downloads by the end of this year.

Kim further announced, “We will do more marketing in India and look forward to collaborating with local Indian comic artists in the mid to long-term. Webtoons are read vertically and it may be a challenge for Indian artists to get used to. Usually, webtoon titles are comprised of 50+ episodes, and readers can read episodes on a weekly basis. So the storytelling becomes important.”

Up next, moderated by Abhijeet Kini, Webcomics – Raising independent Voices, saw illustrators, animators and comic artists Bob & Bobby, The Beast Legion creator Jazyl Homavazir, Zal comic strip creator Cyrus Daruwala, webcomic artist, children’s book illustrator and storyteller Srishti Sharma, sharing their thoughts on how can budding artists leverage the power of social media to expand their craft, and how well does the web platform serve the comic book creators.

“Social media exposure and algorithms helped in the wider reach of webcomics as one creator could promote on others’ pages,” shared Jazyl while Sharma as well as Bob-Bobby opined that these algorithms also force creators to post content frequently and that takes away the artists’ freedom. 

The twin brothers also added, “Digital comics are easily accessible, and all but u can’t feel them, smell them which is very important to us, so that experience is irreplaceable.”

Satirists and political cartoonists have indeed been the bastions of free speech. Keeping the establishment in check through illustrations, they have indeed dissented in style. The Indian Express chief political cartoonist E.P. Unny shed light on the thrills and challenges of a political cartoonist. He shared a glimpse of his workflow, “My typical day basically starts by reading news online especially on Twitter as a lot of breaking news come there and also watching the news. I have to cover a lot of things in my small column and try to tag in the latest news so that the readers can connect with it” Unny expressed. He also said there are a lot of challenges a political cartoonist faces in his/her career. He added, “No cartoon will be infinitely freer than an average citizen of the country. There is a general atmosphere of a sense of suppression or oppression and also people take offence; not just the person in power, someone from the social organisation, even part of the same society, people start getting offended very easily.”

Comic Book Adaptations have ineluctably proved to a recipe of success with countless examples demonstrating the viability of this model. Rakshak writer/creator Shamik Dasgupta, Indusverse CCO Alok Sharma, Toonz Media Group techno-creative consultant (animation & VFX) Hari Varma, Priya’s Shakti creator Ram Devineni and Yali DreamWorks co-founder Vivek Rangachari will be exploring this subject and discussing what sort of content is suitable for adaptations.

Comic book adaptations have been extremely successful in many cases. Taking inspiration we’re adapting Rakshak as a film, Code Name Alpha as both film and series, Caravan and Village as webseries. We are making regional films & regional comics as well. Cinema is language agnostic and digging deeper in the South as it is our new arena to explore,” shared Rangachari. 

Devineni added, “Priya’s Shakti was inspired was 2012 gang rape. It’s an augmented reality motion comics. We are adapting it in animation and a film soon with Vidya Balan and Mrunal Thakur. We’re trying to create something unique and different with this. The animated short we created had $83,000 (US) budget.” 

With a starry convergence of pacemakers and industry veterans, the CBAM summit ended with a promise to be even bigger and better next time.