This isn’t going to end well…
With a bigger and friendlier venue, Comic Con came back to Bangalore this year and its message was loud and clear: there’s no qualification required to geek out; everyone’s invited. The convention went a long way towards dispelling the misconception that the spheres of pop culture are the realms of just a handful, limited to a certain demographic. Attendees represented a fair spread of the city’s residents, and there were people from five to fifty cosplaying as their favourite superheroes, villains, and omnipotent beings.Though a good deal less crowded and intense, the first day still managed to see some great cosplay, and the Skype chat and Q&A session with Neil Gaiman that it ended with was the highlight of the weekend. Moderated by Samhita Arni, the session lasted for over an hour as Gaiman had the audience enthralled with everything from stories of his time with Syrian refugees in Jordan to his admiration of Indian mythology. He discussed the idea of new Sandman material, hinting at where there was room for the series to expand and explore, and shared his optimism about its upcoming big-screen adaptation. He also fondly recollected what it was like to work with Terry Pratchett on Good Omens, and clarified exactly how much of a role George R. R. Martin has played in the success of his career. He ended with some great advice on how to develop as a writer and an artist.
There were a couple of issues with the Skype call, but besides that the session was pretty great
The second and third days saw the convention center packed till it was overflowing, but with the crowd came an amazing energy and excitement. The number of cosplayers doubled and then tripled, and you couldn’t help but stop every few feet to tell someone how great their costume was, or at the very least flash them a big grin and a thumbs up. Each day ended with a display of cosplay, with contestants taking to the stage to see who would win the coveted prizes – Xbox Ones and tickets to Chicago Comic Con 2015.
The Collectors Heritage stall was a little armoury in the middle of the convention with dozens of replica weapons
It cannot be said that there was a lack of merchandise and art to buy, but the biggest issue the convention faced was the lack of variety, or more accurately, the amount of repetition – especially among the t-shirt stalls. As pop culture expands in both the city and the country, vendors will hopefully start catering to more than just the largest fandoms – this year every other stall seemed to be trying to jump onto the Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad or Big Bang Theory gravy trains with dozens of uninspired knock-off tees… not that there’s anything wrong with Batman or Tyrion Lannister, but you’d at least expect a bit more than what your kid brother could put together in five minute using a font that you’d expect to find on a history report – and definitely not half a dozen stalls full of them! There was some great art though, some completely original, some that paid worthy tribute to the artists’ favourite TV shows or books.
Sameer Hazari and his stall of colurful art
It was nice to see indie game developers set up stalls not too far from giant Microsoft and still manage to draw large crowds. Microsoft let people play around with the Xbox One which it is launching in India later this month on September 23rd. Custom Technologies showed off the beta for their game Urban Vikings, and the collective of indie devs were a big hit as they demoed their games, holding contests and challenging people to beat each other’s high scores. There were also educational institutes like VanArts and 3dsense Media School that were spreading awareness about animation and game design and scouting possible talent. Though limited, hopefully the presence of some game-related content will lead to us seeing more at future Comic Cons.
There was a treasure trove of amazing Indian-made comics and artwork, and it was here, speaking to the men and women who had painstakingly written, illustrated and in many cases self-published their work that I felt the best stalls were. Many of these comics had their launches over the three days, with titles including Love Me Like A Psycho Robot and Robots of Dharma.
Sana Amanat on being female and Muslim in America, and how it was reflected in her superhero Ms. Marvel
Opposite the large, walled-off section that was devoted to Amar Chitra Katha, people queued up interact with well-known figures in the comic book industry like David Lloyd (V for Vendetta), Dan Parent (Archies Comics), Peter Kruper (Spy vs. Spy), Rob DenBleykar (Cyanide and Happiness) and Sana Amanat (Marvel Comics). Yes, the sketch that Rob DenBleykar did for me did involve a butt. They each had a panel as well, during which they interacted with the audience and discussed their craft.
The best part of the convention was the feeling of acceptance and respect for each other as the city came together to hang out enjoy the pop culture that it loves. With last week’s announcement that Comic Con India will be pairing up with Reed Exhibitions (organizers of New York Comic Con and the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo) it seems like the event is only going to get bigger and better. I, for one, will definitely be looking forward to see how it grows and spreads the joy of all things geeky.
Scroll down for more cosplay from the event