Comics and sports don’t normally go hand-in-hand. But they sure find a significant place in our lives at varying times. At Chennai-based Sportwalk though, the two entities are more than just in chorus, for they come together in a unique vertical to celebrate the passion of sports through the mania of comics. Started as an initiative to build fan communities of different sports by Divakar KS and Adheedhan, the sports-merchandise-sports blog has tapped into the comics sphere recently with the launch of The Wall, a graphical novel on ace cricketer Rahul Dravid to celebrate his forty-fifth birthday. Sportwalk digital media lead Abhranil Roy explains the motivation for touching upon this new segment- “Comics were an inseparable part of every Indian kid’s life in the 90s, be it Tinkle or Chandamama or some other publication. However, over the years they have become less popular due to the advent of digital media and we wanted to revive that lost charm. At Sportwalk, we try to imbibe great content with great designs and that is how the idea of venturing into comics came up.” “Our love for comics is eclipsed only by our love for sports, and what better way to celebrate them by merging them together in the form of a comic book,” he further added. Their new publication is a humble tribute to the former Indian batsman that entails his best moments on the field; something that Roy describes as “15 moments from his career that made us fall in love with him and elevated him to a truly great icon.” Not only elucidated with shrewd descriptions by writer Himanshu, but these glorious moments are also re-created through deft sketchworks by Adheedhan that bring alive those episodes of history. “Dravid was the embodiment of “The Gentleman’s Game” and he is easily one of our foremost sporting idols. The idea was to celebrate his birthday by paying a humble tribute to him in the form of our first comic book project.” He may have rode into the sunset long ago, but Dravid’s legacy continues to shine bright. And the buoyed response to The Wall stands a solid testimony to the same. An ecstatic Roy says, “We have been blown away by the response so far! Cricket lovers from far and wide, not only in India but also from USA and South Africa have ordered for their copies.” “We are also featured on websites like The Scroll, MensXP, BBC Tamil, Times of India among others,” he further adds. The official offline launch would take place at the next Sportwalk Huddle, a local gathering of sports fanatics, on 20 January 2017 in The Backyard, Huddle, Chennai following which the shipment to the customers would begin. However, one can order their own copy of the book from the Sportwalk store on the official website of Sportwalk. But even before that, Sportwalk has already set sights on its next release that’s based on the Premier League behemoths Manchester United, chronicling some of their indelible memories that are cherished by a Mancunian even to the day. “Manchester United is one of the biggest sporting brands in the world and our next comic book project will be on them. The format will be the same as that of The Wall, but the number of moments will be more,” explains Roy. “We are looking to launch it at the start of the 2018-19 season.” Last year, Sportwalk also became the first sports comic brand to exhibit Comic Con India tour when they set up stalls at the venue, and the fanfare apparently was overwhelming. “We were initially a bit unsure about whether people would like to buy only sports-related designs, but the response at Hyderabad cleared all our doubts. Mumbai and Bangalore resonated with the same frequency, flocking our stalls in numbers and we were completely overwhelmed.” Suffice to say, Sportwalk did have a resounding debut at the Comic Con, and are now chomping at the bit to experience it all over again this year. “It was one helluva experience and we can’t wait to do it all over again. We are looking to attend more Comic Cons this year and hopefully they go as well as they did last time.” Amen to that.