The convention that was started out as an experiment back in 2011 in the capital city of India – Delhi, Comic Con India, has spread its roots in other major parts of the country like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. After successfully having a strong foothold in four major cities in the nation, the convention decided to move ahead and began spreading in other parts as well. And as it completed five years of its existence, Comic Con India kick started 2016 from ‘The Oxford of The East’ city- ‘Pune’ on 20 and 21 February. The city witnessed the Express edition of the comic convention and boy oh boy! it felt as if it’s a full fledged comic convention taking place over there. Held at Deccan College Convention Hall, the single day ticket was priced at Rs 250 whereas the super fan V.I.P pass was available at Rs 400. The exhibitor stalls were located inside the air conditioned hall whereas the main stage and food court were located in the open ground covered by the shamiana. Apart from that, at the entrance itself a photobooth was placed by Comic Con India’s partner, Ola cabs, for selfie lovers and comic fans. Inside the hall, being an Express edition, there were about 40 stalls including merchandisers and comic publishers. The two day con observed many comic enthusiasts as well inquisitive minds who wanted to know what’s the whole buzz about. Puneites were in for a treat as for the first time in Comic Con India Express edition, international guests; author of Marvel Comics’ Secret Invasion, Deadpool Team- Up and Wolverine: Rot, Ivan Brandon and artist of Batman Arkham Unhinged, Peter Nguyen were called in for interaction with their fans. The famous Marathi Chintoo comics, author, Charuhas Pandit was also called in to have session with the guests. Apart from these, the comic lovers got the chance to be the first to get their hands on the exclusive comic book titles that were launched during the two days- Speech Bubble Entertainment released Taranath Tantrik – City of Sorrows – Part 4 and Holy Cow Publishing’s finale comic to their best selling series, Shaitan Issue 04. As Pune has many students staying, many geeks and comic nerds were observed who wanted to know more about the Indian comic industry. This was observed as Abhijeet Kini’s Angry Maushi comic was sold out in the first day itself followed by ICBM’s Aniruddho Chakraborty’s Chariot Comics which went out of stock by next afternoon. Apart from the indie comics, ACK’s Tinkle comics, DC and Dark Horse comics were hot selling. As for the merchandisers, they were happy with the kind of response they were receiving. Vista Tech Solutions director, Ashish Shah who’s the distributor of HUION products mentioned, “Pune has an informed crowd and we are happy with the response we are getting.They are aware of our products and are inquisitive to learn more about it and how they can use it in their academic courses and professional lives.” However being a student city, not many were having cash in handy. Many were carrying plastic cards and since there were network issues and ATM machine not being fully functional, sales of higher priced products were being hampered which was a bummer for both merchandisers and comic sellers. Holy Cow Entertainment’s founder, Vivek Goel said, “This is the first time at Comic Con India that I am not happy with my sales as it’s the lowest till date. Many buyers couldn’t purchase our comics due to the unavailability of cash due to which we lost some of our valuable customers.“ Commenting on this issue, Comic Con India founder, Jatin Varma said, “Though we expected this kind of turnout for the event, we weren’t aware of the scorching heat of Pune. Having said that, we couldn’t have done anything about the dysfunction of ATM machines as it’s not in the hands of anyone. It’s being taken care by the bank itself.” An important aspect of any comic con along with comics is the cosplayers. Pune didn’t disappoint when it comes to cosplaying. Keeping in mind that the con took place for the first time in Pune, a decent number of cosplayers right from kids to students were seen dressed up in their favourite superheroes and comic characters costumes. The winners of the Cosplay competition were given a ticket to Middle east Film and Comic Convention 2016. There’s another important update for the indie comic publishers as Comic Con India finally came out with a plan on how to get them onboard for every con. Jatin said, “Indie comic developers will have to release 3 new titles every year and in return we will provide them with free stalls, promotion and branding at all Comic Cons taking place in India. This plan will be put to action from Hyderabad Comic Con.” Comic Con India already has Holy Cow Entertainment, ICBM, Shamik Dasgupta (who represents Speech Bubble Entertainment and Yali Dream Creations) on board. Having said that, there are certain rules that the indie comic publisher will have to meet in order to fall under this bond. They will have to an existing relationship with Comic Con India and should not have more than 15 titles under their hood. And if any new player wants to be a part of it then they will first have to publish a title, show it to Comic Con India people and if they feel they are serious about their work then they would be brought on board as well. This year won’t experience any other express editions, nonetheless Jatin says they are looking to to test waters at Chennai, Kolkata, Shillong and Ahmedabad in the upcoming years. As for the next Comic Con, it will be held in the later half of the year, most probably from September when the weather is pleasant and Jatin promises that many cool things can be expected from the upcoming cons.