Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Shanti Pirate Queen in Flintlock by Steve Tanner

DESIblitz speaks to Time Bomb Comic’s Steve Tanner about his comic book series ‘Flintlock’ featuring a South Asian Pirate Queen called Shanti.
Birmingham-based artist Steve Tanner is the editor, publisher and owner of Time Bomb Comics.
His latest comic series Flintlock features a South Asian character called Shanti. Set in the 18th century, Shanti is a Pirate Queen from India.
Shanti is actually one of the first regular South Asian characters to appear in a comic book.
Besides Kamala Khan’s Ms Marvel series, seeing a South Asian character on the cover of a Comic Book is an extreme rarity.
In an exclusive interview, Steve Tanner tells DESIblitz about his company, Flintlock and Shanti as well as his thoughts on South Asian under representation in the industry and diversity in the indie and mainstream worlds of comic books.


Saturday, April 2, 2016


A peek into the world of comic book-writing in India, a contribution that often falls through the panels

Meandering through the panels, text boxes and speech bubbles, your average comic book writer is quite the unsung superhero. A comic book writer is a mysterious creature. Straddling the realm between written words and visual storytelling, he/ she toils to bring to life stories, characters and worlds that can put reality to shame.

So what is comic book writing, we asked a few members of the breed. "Writing comics means designing efficient missiles that deliver this payload," says Jai Undurti, of Hyderabad Graphic Novel Project fame. Anirrudho Chakraborty, (the writer of Vrica) offers a poetic explanation. "The world is a vicious and cruel place and comic book writing is about allowing a temporary, joyous escape from that, nothing more, nothing less," he says with a smile. For Vijayendra Mohanty (he worked on Ravanayan), it involves becoming one with the reader and developing feelings for characters on colourful pages before the artist has put his pencil to paper for the first time". Short comic writer CG Salamander (The Big Picture) believes it "gives you the rare opportunity of reaching into your reader's mind and guiding their imagination".

Akshay Dhar, founder of Meta Desi Comics and comic book writer, offers: "Comic book writing is just an extension of writing. That in turn is an extension of one of the most basic hallmarks of being human and of our civilisation: storytelling." To those who look down upon it he has a few choice words. "Kindly go and fornicate with your own self because your opinion means as much to me as the contents of the two -ply parchment I used to cleanse my buttocks this morning," he says. Ouch.

In an ideal world, we would have had the chance to read more comics written by them. But in reality, writing comic books comes with its fair share of woes. "The pay isn't all that great, so most comic writers often do other things. Readership is low, and it can be quite challenging to get your comic out there," admits Salamander.

So is multitasking. "I would love to stop at writing and sit back and see the magic take place and be a part of it, but with such little money, I need to do too much on my own apart from writing... including storyboarding, colouring, lettering and the book design," says Chakraborty, who also is the founder of Chariot Comics.

And for others, there are cons of a more personal nature. "Parents find themselves incapable of telling relatives what you do. Relatives find themselves incapable of giving a damn, and you spend unhealthy amounts of time in imaginary worlds," says Mohanty in all seriousness.

Though they work miles apart from each other, they remain united with the rest of us thanks to the sheer force of love. Love for making comics.

But while they are given the grave responsibility of creating pocket-sized universes, they are often overlooked when it comes to appreciating a comic. More Indian artists have a better social media and PR presence than their writer counterparts. But sadly, overwhelmed by standalone artworks and unwilling to read comics or graphic novels in its entirety, Indian fans have started questioning the relevance of a comic book writer in our times.

"We have remarkably little interest in the writers in India," agrees Dhar. "Literary writers get love from the "literati" who mostly look down on us lowly comic-scribes and from their fans. But except for a couple of comic writers who have developed a cult following most of us are relatively obscure to the bulk of the comic reading market," he concludes.

In recent years, artists have begun shunning the need for a writer and have created mind-blowing comic books on their own like Appupen's Halahala trilogy as well as Harsho Mohan Chattoraj's latest supernatural mystery, The Ghosts of the Kingdoms Past . What does that mean for the writers? Undurti says it best. "A world without comic books writers? This looks like a job for Superman!"

The author is the co-founder of StripTease the Mag, a magazine about comics and graphic novels from all over the world

Thursday, March 3, 2016

7 Indian Comics

7 Indian Comics That Are Tackling Social Issues

Animated cartoons, creative illustrations and comics have been constantly used as a medium to communicate a message of social change. From promoting the importance of hygienic surroundings to education of girl child, comics have gone a long way in taking up serious causes.
In recent times we noticed comics, graphic novels, webcomics that work towards spreading information on lesser known topics like identifying abuse, sex education, mental illnesses, menstruation and more. Here are a few that caught our eye:

Priya’s Shakti

Depicting the adventures of a girl from rural India, who invokes the power of Goddess Durga to battle eve-teasers, the novel also carries stories of four girls who were survivors of rape and their battles for justice. The brainchild of writer/filmmaker, Ram Devineni, artist Dan Goldman and social impact strategist Lina Srivastava, say that the comic book was born in response to the December 2012 gang rape in New Delhi.

Queer Graphic Anthology

The anthology captures queer graphic fiction, cartoons, illustrations, doodles, and true stories from personal experiences of people who resonate with the LGBTQ community. The stories help people to see the way one view’s the world, by expressing values on equality and love for all. (Also read – Behind The Scenes Of India’s First Ever Queer Graphic Anthology)


Indie publishing house Manta Ray created a gripping graphic depiction of child sexual abuse. Hush follows a dark plot with illustrations that would remind one of the elegant charcoal drawings.

Grassroots Comics

Grassroots Comics are created to talk about and voice the issues of individuals from diverse backgrounds. The comics truly have given a new direction to representation of silences. The comics are pasted as flyers in all possible spots i.e. bus stops, shops, offices, schools, on notice-boards, electricity poles or even on trees. After its inception in India, the idea travelled to other South Asian countries and a few countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe.


Growing up everyone loves reading stories with illustrations, packaged with beautiful illustrations and cartoon characters the book makes it really easy and comfortable for parents and teachers to talk about menstruation. Although this book is specifically for girls, even boys would find it an interesting and informative read. (More on Menstrupedia HERE)

Amar Bari Tomar Bari Naxal Bari

Revolving around the history of the Naxalbari revolt in 1967, the comics is a satire on Independent India’s political history, zamindari control over farms, the uprising of the naxalites and the present day fire that impacts the country. Read more about the novel HERE.

River of Stories

Conveying the story of the environmental, social and political issues surrounding the construction of the controversial Narmada Dam Project in India is not only a semi-fiction novel with serious moving content but is also one of the first graphic novels to be published in India.
If you know of any more Indian comics that are talking about such serious issues, do let us know in the comments below. Also, check out these Amazing Indian Comics With Awesome Regional Flavours and Coolest Indian Webcomics.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

'Amazing Fantastic Incredible' a comic insight to Stan Lee's life journey

The creator that gave Marvel many of its famous comic characters, Stan Lee, has finally released his autobiography, “Amazing Fantastic Incredible”. And this autobiography is not in any ordinary form, just like his superheroes, his life is also seen in a graphic novel format.
The 92 year old co-creator of Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor and the X-Men, introduced many complex, naturalistic characters and a thoroughly shared universe into superhero comic books. After working tirelessly in the comic space and seeing his work not being just acknowledged but becoming a worldwide success, Lee came up with this idea to pen down his life story during Marvel’s 75th anniversary. He was seen saying,  “As Marvel just celebrated its 75th anniversary, I thought maybe it’s time for a look at my life in the one form it has never been depicted, as a comic book… Or if you prefer, a graphic memoir. It strikes me as a horrendous oversight that I haven’t done it before! If I didn’t know everything about my life already, I’d envy your voyage of discovery.”
stanleecoverThe vibrantly colored memoir, illustrated by Colleen Doran, walks readers through the life of the Stanley Lieber, and gives insights to the icon’s thoughts as his cartoonish form breaks the fourth wall. Written by Stan Lee and Peter David, the comic consists of 192 pages and delivers a clear  message that Stan wants to bring real, relatable characters to his audience even if he’s the character in question.
The journey begins with Lee as a boy, transported to other worlds through books by Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells and William Shakespeare. His real world was the Depression, a father mostly out of work and a dingy New York apartment with laundry hanging in the kitchen and a brick wall for a view. Lee says his mother doted on him; he remembers she’d just watch him read. “One of the best gifts I ever got — she bought me a little stand that I could keep on the table while I was eating, and I could put a book in the stand, and I could read while I was eating. I mean, I always had to be reading something,” he recalls.
In an interview with NPR, Stan mentions:
On comics and picking a pen name
I realised that people had no respect for comic books at all. Most parents didn’t want their children to read comics. And I was a little embarrassed to be doing the work I did, and I figured someday I’ll write the Great American Novel and I don’t want to ruin my possibilities by having my name disliked this way. And I became Stan Lee.
The stories in the comic books then were a little bit different. My publisher was typical of all the publishers, and in the early days he would say to me, “Just give me action! I want a lot of action in every panel! That’s what the kids want.” So I wanted the characters to have good personalities, I wanted provocative situations — I don’t think he knew what the word provocative meant. Aside from the fights, there was nothing much to recommend the books.
On creating the Fantastic Fourstan lee page
I was really ready to quit. I was getting sick of doing these one-character-punches-another and says, “Take that, you rat.” So my wife said to me, “You want to quit. Before you do, why don’t you get one story out of your system? Do one the way you want to do it. The worst that will happen, he’ll fire you. But you want to quit anyway. So what have you got to lose?” So that’s when I did the Fantastic Four.
On artist Jack Kirby’s original vision for Spider-Man
Jack made him look very heroic and strong. But that isn’t the way I wanted him. I wanted him to look like a typical, thin high school kid. And he doesn’t get all the girls because of his athletic prowess. He’s just kind of a shy high school kid who’s a science major. It was no big deal. I said, “Jack, forget it. I’ll give it to someone else.” And he was busy with a dozen other books. He didn’t care. So I called Steve Ditko, and Steve gave him just the right look. And that’s how Spidey was born.
On whether he feels his creations around him
Not really. I love those characters I’ve done. But I’ve moved on to other things. I love talking about them, I love people being interested in them. And I’m interested in them too. But as I say, they’re things that I had written. I’m glad they turned out to be successful. But today is another day.