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Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News – September 8, 2009
Sep. 8–MUMBAI — It was about a year ago that Mumbai-based Karan Vir Arora got the idea of opening an Indian comics company on the lines of international pop culture giants like DC comics, Marvel, and Dark Horse comics.
Thus came along Vimanika, an Indian comics company that publishes comics and graphic novels based exclusively on Indian mythology. Karan Vir Arora, director and editor-in- chief, Vimanika, believes that it wasn’t only the scarcity of Indian comic companies that propelled this venture.
It was a three-point agenda that included educating the youth around the world about Indian culture, heritage and spiritual values, the need to share the art of narration and visualisation to the world, which his brother indoctrinated in him from childhood.
“And we wanted our graphic novel titles to be created into live action movies and animated movies a la like Frank Miller’s 300, Superman and Batman,” he adds.
The initial days were filled with anxiety and restlessness, as Arora had no experience in running a comic company and no mentor to learn from.. He didn’t even know how to make a comic.
He says, “We had several challenges like not being able to find right artistes. Even the ones we did find were charging a lot. Distributors rejected us. We also had difficulties displaying our comics in bookstores throughout Mumbai and other cities because we were not known.”
Finally, after several attempts, IBH picked up Vimanika but agreed to distribute the comics only in Mumbai. Today, a year later, the multiple award-winning comic book titles are available across India in major bookstores as well as in 100 stores in the United States. The company is also in talks with one of the biggest distributors in the U S to distribute Pan America.
Why Indian mythology? At Vimanika, historical events that have created an impact are given credit, especially those that exemplify individual courage. The goal is to popularise tales of forgotten heroes and prevent them from dying out. Arora says, “Past generations become myth but myth must not be allowed to disappear as it has a very strong and evident impact on the present and future.”
Created in comics and graphic novel formats, the comic books are based on characters related to the Indian mythology. The characters portray a large number of virtues and each story has a moral in it, combining education with entertainment. To carry the feature forward, the company also wants to bring to life stories and characters created by Vimanika via animated films, live action films, games, merchandising, toys, theme parks and much more.
Arora says, “It is a joy being a creator because you can address so many issues. I have the freedom of adding wild life and environmental issues in my comics, which need our immediate attention today. In our award-winning title Moksha, we introduced a white tiger, making readers realise the importance and value of this species.”
Up next The company has several projects in the pipeline including the launch graphic versions of Dashaavatar and The Legend of Karna next month. They will also be launching titles based on Lord Shiva and Lord Garuda soon. In the next three months, anyone will be able to download the comic titles through mobiles and online comic portals. The comics will also soon be available in the format of newspaper comic strips.
Vimanika is also in talks with big production houses in India and abroad to make movies based on their titles and is looking at a partnership with companies to develop comics into online games and mobile games. Now that’s what you call, living a dream — one sketch at a time.
Copyright (c) 2009, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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