Movie Promotions At The Comic Con In India

So clearly, there’s a lot of money to be made here. The comic conventions don’t just need to involve publishers, they need to go beyond that,” Jatin Verma, founder, Comic Con India.

Delhi’s second Comic Convention once again saw a huddle of comic enthusiasts in Dilli Haat, with a Freddy Kruger on the prowl, an overweight Superman binging on kulfiand a sweatshirt-clad Darth Vader saying “cheese” along with his fans. What stood out even more than the latter three (who were obviously comic-fans dressed in their favourite superhero outfits), were the flamboyant Marvel and Disney stalls showcasing products and live games from their latest Hollywood releases. Marvel did not hold back when it came to its upcoming movie, “Avengers”,starring Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downing Jr – be it the life-size Iron-Man walking around in his suit to Thor-related games, and the movie’s extensive merchandise. Neither did Disney, when it came to its new sci-fi film, ” John Carter”, the stall that featured a large extra terrestrial creature along with the rest of the cast’s cutout was strangely beckoning, and visitors could play games inside as well. Also available on the stands were “Tere Bin Laden” director, Abhishek Sharma’s, first graphic novel, “Munkeeman” and also, “Zombie Talkies”, the graphic novel based on Abhay Deol’s zomcom flick, “Shaadi Of The Dead”.

While Hollywood is constantly churning out big-budget blockbusters based on classic comics, the exact opposite seems to be the trend in Bollywood – where filmmakers use comics as a publicity gimmick for a hugely anticipated movie. In both cases however, the Comic Con organisers are hardly complaining. Though there weren’t any movie promotions in last year’s Delhi Comic Con, Mumbai’s first convention in 2011 saw launch the ” Don 2″ comic, followed by the “Ra.One” comic, and consequently “Munkeeman” and Zombie Talkies. While Delhi’s convention raked in a moolahof 20-25 lakhs in two days, Mumbai pulled in 30 lakhs. In 2012, Delhi is watching Hollywood bringing in its A-game. The organisers say they have not only met last year’s earnings in the past two days, but have surpassed it by a great number.

The big daddy of all comic conventions and the big inspiration behind Comic Con India, the San Diego Comic Con, is well-known for comic geeks in strange flashy outfits and more so, for the several panel discussions with some of the biggest stars starring in that year’s most awaited blockbusters. There is no better or larger platform for movie promotions than the convention. In 2011, the “Twilight” star cast, Charlize Theron (for “Prometheus), Hugh ( Wolverine) Jackson, Olivia Munn (costumed!), Freida Pinto (for “Immortals), Jessica Biel, Andrew “Spiderman” Garfield, Colin Farrell, all made an appearance at the convention, and that’s just the movie stars, the TV list is even longer!

So far, Indian celebrities have only made an appearance in their graphic novel avatars, but maybe the aggressive promotional strategies displayed with every successive Comic Con and a larger turnout each time, we can expect B-towners to change their mind?

More than just books

Jatin’s philosophy of a comic con being about much more than just “books” can easily be justified when one looks at the scope and magnitude of the event, and we aren’t referring to the venue at all.

The Comic Con, of course, has its usual collection of comics, graphic novels, anime art etc, that can be further divided into Indian and international comics. Amar Chitra Katha sells more than a 1000 “Tinkles” a day, and more than 2500 “Chota Bheem” comics are sold by Green Gold. Random House says that the shelfs loaded with “Green Lantern”, “Watchmen” and “V For Vendetta” comics are now empty – but Batman sells the highest.

But there’s also merchandising stalls – Batman bobbleheads or Marvin the Martian wallets or even ” Kolaveri Di” T-shirts, they have them all! Then there’s the stalls put up by design universities (Indian and foreign), who say interest in design courses has gone up in the past few years and they do have 25 to 30 people approach them each day. TV finds takers too, with comic books featuring Lola Kutty T-shirts and a 9x channel mascot parading across the grounds.

And Jatin’s only dreaming bigger.

“This is a popular culture event. Comics are obviously the base, and the main focus, but we need be more open because these industries are all interrelated. Gaming companies also draw upon comics and that is why, we have approached some gaming companies. We also have companies like Animation express, Amar Chitra Katha has its own animation studio, by next year we’d like companies like Sony and Xbox to be on board,” he signs off.