The year of 2018 would be the one set in stone for Chariot Comics. With as many as four different titles lined-up, Aniruddho Chakraborthy and co. are all set to take the Indian comic sphere by storm. It has been a long time coming, but the VRICA: Dawn of the Wolf writer recollects the rough and tumble they’d been through last year to bring it all about. “To be honest, 2017 was a relatively slow year. We spent most of the year on developing the titles we are looking to launch this year and taking a back seat on rushing the production. We also spent the year scouting around for talent, both new and old, to expand the boundaries of the storytelling that we are doing.” A harbinger of new series in Chariot Comics is AISHA: Of Children and Monster #1, dedicated to the kids and young adults fan base that’s a “segue from the usual mature reader titles” and aims to present something “fun and bright” to the same. It is slated for an October release, during the time of Hyderabad Comic Con. Having cast an uncanny spell on its readers in 2016, the dynamic duo of Anga and Morphuz are ready to pack another hefty punch in their upcoming edition, Damned: The Madness/The Shadows Part One. Joined by a third member in Karki, these meta-humans embark on an all-new journey that sees them come to terms with a new set of resources. However, there’s a twist in the tale as the government has now formed a meta-human and mystical black-ops division, endangering their existence, whereas Anga contorts the case further with an agenda of her own. The second chapter in the Damned saga builds on the sleeper hit Vampire Monks of Piyang, to which Aniruddho adds, “We debut a new penciller in Amit Kumar to our line-up with this issue. We loved his raw, untrained and weird artwork style and thought it works perfectly with the Damned title.” “We are targeting a Mumbai Comic Con release, which maybe in November.” Alongside, the year would also witness two new editions of (here’s the big one) VRICA, which apparently holds a special place in his heart. Their most successful publication, Team VRICA marks the end of an era with their third and the final chapter Descension Pact, and Aniruddho could literally sum up the mood at its launch – “As a creator, I’m probably going to be crying on stage when it launches at Delhi Comic Con. So you’re welcome to see me cry!” The penultimate edition of the title, VRICA: Nightstalker, releases around the same time and would be narrated in the form of short stories introduced by a new writer. “We have roped in someone who has done some very good work in the Indian indie comic book scene with other publishers and we are hoping to make that official announcement sometime soon.” Barring this one, Aniruddho takes the writing credits for the other three titles. So the plans are firmly in place, but what stages of development have they reached? “All the titles are in different stages of completion currently. While Ayesha is nearly complete and should be ready in the next one month (fingers crossed!), Damned is now being pencilled/inked. We have finished the story for VRICA: Descension Pact and should go into the production stage soon, while VRICA: Nightstalker is in the early stages of development for now.” Almost three years have gone by since the last VRICA title; that’s exactly how long the fans have been clamouring for the new edition. But Aniruddho is mindful of it and has a reasonable explanation for the delay in the releases. “Obviously we have disappointed some people and loyal followers with the time we’ve taken between the last VRICA title and the latest one – but that’s a conscious decision. I honestly, didn’t want to rush it and wanted it to the best story we could come out with for the series. The VRICA series has been our mainstay and our most popular, and it also remains to the closest to my heart. As the creator, I’m willing to delay it, if I know what comes out eventually is the best shot I could have taken at it.” As the VRICA trilogy sees a culmination, the writer has made several indelible memories on the road, which he gleefully reminisces – “Out of the many, there are three incidents that stand out though – and a lot of them pertain to Ascension Protocol. When I was writing it, I was personally in a very weird place – and I guess it somehow reflected in the story I was writing. So, I remember having a very good laugh when my friends Vineet and Soubhik, who had read the early draft of the script, both called up individually to ask me if I was alright and if needed help. I thought that was a pretty great validation of the places we had gone to with the second one.” “The second memory I have is of Jatin Verma, the founder of Comic Con, reading it and giving me a one-line review ‘I liked it, but you might have Snydered it a little bit.’ That was a such an honest review at so many levels. He was right in the sense that it was edited too tight as a comic – and given the math of comic book production in India, that was a damning indictment on the limits that exist to expansive storytelling in comics books in India.” “The last memory that stands out is hilarious. I once had a teenager buy the first volume once because his ex-girlfriend was named VRICA! He went on to tell me that he wanted to buy it since the violence shown in the comic was reflective of their failed relationship! Kids these days, I tell ya!” he further stated. With the four launches, 2018 marks their busiest period since the provenance of Chariot Comics in 2012, but has absolutely no qualms about it. “Since we’ve had a head start, like I mentioned, by using most of 2017 for pre-production – I think we are in a comfortable space in many ways. You want to be busy and having fun making things, and I think 2018 is going to be just that!” And finally, here’s what he expects once the comics are out – “Let’s be honest, more you put expectations on something, more you may tend to be disappointed since not everything works according to your best laid plans. So no concrete monetary or numerical expectations per se. That’s because we are in a comfortable position in terms of numbers and sales rotation in general – both online and on ground. However, with AISHA, we are really hoping to give the kids something relatively meaningful yet weird, wonderful and fun to read.” “Damned is slated to be our platform to expand the Chariotverse, so let’s see how that goes. With VRICA: Nightstalker we are aiming to get a new voice to our storytelling and with Descension Pact, we hope to provide the epic ending that the series deserves,” he concludes.