The culture of Comic Con
scar Wilde said, “Give a man a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” The inception of Comic Con India has been an expression of people’s free-spirited fantasies.
scar Wilde said, “Give a man a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” The inception of Comic Con India has been an expression of people’s free-spirited fantasies. It is a haven for nerds and geeks alike, who feel at home amidst a plethora of colourful masked costumes, which gives them the freedom of being their true self albeit for a few hours.
Aside from a fan’s opportunity to meet some of their favourite celebrities from television shows and films, or their favorite artistes or writers from comic books, Comic Cons around the world have taken the taboo of being a “nerd” and made it a celebration of self.
In an interaction with The Hans India, the man who brought Comic Con to India, Jatin Varma speaks of his recent visit to Beijing Comic Con; the similarities and differences between the two countries’ events and the unifying bond of comic enthusiasts around the world.
Tell us about your experience at Beijing Comic Con?
It was an amazing experience, it was very exciting to be at the inaugural show and see fans experience their first ever comic con. The fans there were amazing and it was very interesting to get an overview of pop culture in the country. Fans across the world are quite similar in their likes & their passion, despite the different languages and regions.
What were some of the similarities between India and Beijing Comic Con?
Fans whether in India or China get excited and passionate about the same things - be it TV shows, films or comics. The Chinese fans reacted to the guests and the various booths on the show floor, in the exact way as their Indian counterparts would. I also found that there is a lot of interest in home-grown/local content and content creators both in India and China. And, of course gaming is a big draw at both shows.
And… what about what was different?
The content on offer at the show is more in Chinese as compared to English. Whereas in India most of the international content is consumed in English only with very limited Hindi Translations. One striking thing I observed was that there is more female than male participation, whereas in India, it’s the reverse, the same applies to most western shows as well.
Another thing which was absent was local Chinese comics, as compared to the fledgling Indian comics industry. However, that expected as it’s a very protected & censored market.
In your experience, how important role does the culture of a country plays in success of such events?
It’s very important, quite a few elements in a Comic Con are common and can be experienced at any of the shows around the world, however, what makes each show unique is the local content and culture. It’s what brings out the show's actual personality and of course influences the visitor experience.
Given that some cosplayers are scantily clad; do you think such cosplays would be possible in India?
That's not really true, even at North American shows; any sort of 'risqué' costumes are few and far between. I don't really view it as something that is an issue here in India. And we have an extensive cosplay do's & don't policy. And no matter how your costume might be perceived, that cannot be assumed as consent for any sort of harassment. We have an extremely strict Anti-harassment policy that we follow at all our events.
Can we popularise Indian characters in Comic Con of famous movies, comics and books just like Anime for Asian countries and Hollywood for western?
There are already many popular Indian characters; however it takes decades to build a franchise similar to what has been done internationally. And the same would apply to India. As more and more content goes digital, i feel we will be able to build world-wide franchises in the near future. And Comic Con India will be the platform where people discover it first.
Given a chance to cosplay, who would you be?
I usually prefer cosplaying as characters from Star Wars & Star Trek; they are both my favourite franchises.
By Asra Ghouse