Once Bitten

Once bitten, twice shy
Twice bitten
Should I ask why?

Too much, yet not enough
But close enough
To feel, to touch

Almost there, but not quite
Not quite all
But always right?

Everything, yet no thing at all
Some kind of thing
Known not what to call

Uncertain, confused
Offered
But refused

Once bitten, twice shy
Twice bitten
Wish I knew why

A Fork in the Road

I travel a path well laid
With promises and expectations known
With costs few, and dues paid
With futures seen and plans made
I travel, this path I was shown

But in traveling I have heard of another way
Approaching in a fork ahead
This road has many tolls to pay
And where it ends I could not say
But it begins, to call my tread

For this new path has temptations of love
Of happiness and new glories
It shows opportunity to see new stars above
Of a new world to be part of
Of amazing, and thrilling stories

Now I know not which path I’ll take
Though I’m afraid in the end
With uncertainty in my wake
And a life not lived at stake
I might break, if I don’t bend

I have frosty words ringing in my ear
And yet many miles to go
I have sorrow and I have fear
But also happiness and cheer
And where I’ll end up, who knows

Chapter 4 – The Campfire

Tell me Charles,” the Battlemage said as he stoked the amber flames of the campfire, as they danced before his eyes, “Have you ever been bested my another… Been so beaten that you were unsure you were going to get back up?” His friend turned from the tree he had anointing with the ale of the hours past, happily unaware of the dozens of endangered pixie ants he had just sent to a, lets say watery, grave. “Ha! There is no man who can best me by sword or arm Battlemage! If he were to break my arm, it would mend, and it would return unto him his favour two-fold” “But what if it is not your bones that are broken?” Barekvar added, his face looking much older now than it had in the days past. “Ah…” Charles Manor sighed, finally catching his friend’s drift, “So you speak of the fairer sex. Of wounds much harder to heal.” “I do…” replied Barekvar.

The silence in the small campsite seemed almost deafening. The two childhood friends sat alone around the amber circle, amidst the many Goblin corpses of a raiding party that made the fatal error of thinking they looked easy prey. Their other two compatriots had travelled North, to chase rumours of their quarry, while these two travelled East, to chase others.

It had been months since he had spoken of Kayla. Since the game with the Lizard King. His wounds had healed, but some scars from that evening remained. “She still lingers on your mind?” Charles prodded as he chucked another log on the hungry fire. “As she does always” Barekvar replied, “Yet…” he added, pausing, as if to search his own self to judge the veracity of his words, “Not as she used to.” And as the words passed his lips, he knew them to be true. “It is just… much harder than I expected, to do this Charles.” “Do what?” “Live…”

When you found me in that hole in the ground I was another man. My heart had been closed for so long I no longer even felt it. My mind was so perpetually numbed by ale that I no longer remembered. My eyes so clouded by the dark I no longer saw what was ahead, nor what was behind me…” He paused to swig from a flagon that still had the atrophied hand of a Goblin stuck to its handle, “And yet, somehow that was easier. For now that the shroud has lifted and I feel again… How do you do it?” The truth was, even though he told himself that he sometimes pitied Manor, and his ‘womanizing ways’, bouncing from bed to bed, he truly envied him. Not for his prowess, but for his heart. A heart that was so big and so true that it was never full, no matter how many were held within it. A heart that would never shrink, no man how many pieces of it he gave away.

There are many things I have never understood about you Battlemage” Manor said, putting his arm around Barekvar, “But of all these things, what I understand least is how you still hold onto the Healer.” Barekvar chuckled. Even though there was no love lost between them, Manor still refused to speak her name. Not because he feared the Battlemage’s ire, but because he saw in his eyes how much it pained him to hear it, even now. “Well my friend,” Barekvar replied, “that is a thing I understand no better than you.

Well, I know this” said Manor “You will heal. Perhaps not today. Nor tomorrow. But you will… For you are right Battlemage. When we found you in that drinking hall you were another man. Not the man that sits beside me now… But neither the man that I was raised with, shoulder to shoulder. Your pain and your loss have tempered you. Like a good blade. You are heavy, and thus the arm that wields you is yet unsure. But it will strengthen. And it swing stronger and surer than ever before.

A tear fell from Barekvar’s eye. For a man whose vocabulary normally consisted primarily of words reserved exclusively for bedding bevies, and telling sordid tales of said bedding, Manor had in him a warrior poet whose words could soften the hearts of men as well as women. “I hope you are right, good friend” the Battlemage said, wiping the tear from his cheek. “I know I am you old fool” Manor chuckled.

Now pass the damn Ale!

Thodi Shayarin

Teri mohabbat ka ye
Saroor hai
Ki mera pyaar,
Tere hoton se dur hai

Main jitna chahun
Na badal sakun,
Tera dil, mere dil
Se masroof hai

Maine chaha tha bohat
Tujhne apna banana

Par is duniya ne banaya
Mujhe be-mansoor hai

Teri mohabbat ka ye
Saroor hai
Ki mera pyaar tere hoton
Se dur hai

Chahun bhi to
Na jit paun
Mera inaam mere haton
Se bada dur hai

Teri mohabbat ka ye
Saroor hai
Ki meta pyaar tere hoton
Se dur hai

I Write

I write because I am compelled
Because the thought of not doing so confounds me
Disgusts me
Frightens me

I write because I am distracted
Because I am focussed like never before
Because I’m bored
Because I’m excited

I write from pain and anguish
And love and joy
From the nothingness
From the pure endless stream of consciousness

I write because it feels good
And because it hurts
Because it cuts deep
Because it heals

I write because I know that these words will be read
And they will be ignored
Judged
Forgotten

I write

Because

I write

Diggin on Duggan!

Today I had opportunity to meet one of my favourite comic writers, and hands down one half of my favourite writing team – Gerry Duggan! In the words of Ice Cube, “today was a GOOD day!

Duggan was signing comics for his fans at Orbital Comics, one of London’s best little comic book stores, in my humble opinion. Free of charge and any fuss the man happily sat and signed issue after issue, sometimes a dozen per person (sadly I only had the two I had just purchased – Hawkeye vs Deadpool #0 and Deadpool: Soul Hunter – as my entire collection is sitting back home in India!). And it wasn’t just a sign and be off atmosphere either – he was super friendly and conversant. I even had the chance to tell him about “Holy Hell”, written by yours truly with my own writing partner Akshay, and our other efforts over at Meta Desi Comics. We’re no Duggan and Posehn (yet), but we can dream!

In the 5-10 minutes that we spoke (well it felt like that anyway), we also got to talking about a common inspiration – Mark Waid (whose name came up when I invited Duggan to come to Comic Con Delhi – something he wasn’t all that unexcited about Comic Con India guys!). He told me about how when he first met Waid, and got the chance to work with him, he was terrified… I failed to mention to him how apt that story was considering I was positively buzzing at the moment myself! Honestly I wish I could have stayed and offered to buy him a pint after the signing, but sadly, being my last day in London, chores beckoned. But perhaps such moments are made all the sweeter by their fleeting beauty.

Let’s hope this won’t be the last time I get to meet the great Duggan… And let’s hope next time I hit the jackpot and his writing partner is with him! Till then… Excelsior!

So Wrong it was Right: The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess Theatre, London)

Today I caught the matinée show of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong‘ a brilliantly slap-stick comedy production, currently being staged at the Duchess Theatre in London’s West End. Offering a “play within a play” this play revolves around a disastrously comical (or should I say comically disastrous?) production of ‘A Murder at Haversham Manor’, being staged by the rather amusing (and so familiarly) amateurish the theatre troupe of the ‘Cornley Polytechnic’.

As a warm-up to the show, cast members, playing the crew, ran about the stage and bar area frantically trying to get the stage ready for the “grand opening” (a nervous energy I remember all too well from having staged a number of college performances). And while, running some 15 minutes, it may seem to drag on a bit, this little warm up was a great way to get the crowd ready for the antics and laughs soon to come.

Once the show within the show started the audience was witness to exactly what you would expect from a play that seemed to prescribe, almost ruthlessly, to Murphy’s Law – everything that could go wrong, did! Hammy actors who couldn’t seem to help but smile  awkwardly at receiving applause; missing and/or misplaced props; missed cues and forgotten lines; faulty lighting and music effects; and a stage that was literally falling apart at the seams – everything from a Director’s worst nightmare. And hands off to the actor played said Director (Henry Shields), because he really looked like a poor sod on the verge of a total nervous breakdown as his stage broke down around him. I would say that he, and the man who played Mr. Collimore (Henry Lewis) were the best of the lot. The former for his nervous demeanor and frantic expressions and the latter for his booming voice, which made everything sound so hilariously over the top dramatic (Good lord, I needed that!)

While it may not be the dry english wit many are familiar with, this delightfully silly comedy is just packed, with lots of laughs, a few rather extraordinary surprises (seriously I actually jumped in my seat once or twice) and actors who are so good at being bad that you will be on the edge of your seat with side-splitting laughter, whether you’re a teenager like the chap to my left or a pensioner like the last to my right.

If you have the chance, do go see this play. The Duchess Theatre is a small intimate theatre, where any seat will offer a decent view. And the show will only set you back about 20 quid.

It opens with a whimper, but ends with a bang… And of course it isn’t over till even the chandelier comes down!

Joining the Tig Nation – Tig Notaro Live at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Okay I think a lot fewer people would have “the Mondays” if they managed to stat their week off the way I did – with a superb comedy gig. Stumbling about on LiveNation yesterday, hunting for some fun stuff to do while I’m in London, I came across a comedy gig by Tig Notaro (a known comic if you’re from the States, lesser so here in England or back home in India) and was delighted when there were still tickets available for the show. So of course I booked immediately!

Before I get into her set though, a few words about the support act – Matt Rees. In his own words, his set is all about junk food, sex and drinking – “Are you okay with that? Good. Coz that’s all there is.” I wasn’t familiar with Rees before yesterday, but I’d be happy to come to a show again. He dry humor and often deadpan delivery were a good match up for Tig Notaro’s style, though the content was far blue-er I suppose. If I had to describe him to my friends I’d say, “think Louis C.K meets Milton Jones” – funny, a bit crass, self-deprecating and with lots of confusingly humorous jokes.

The real shame however, was that despite the great warm-up, it took forever for the headliner to come on stage – I mean like, 15-20 minutes! Presumably this was so Rees had the opportunity to sell some merchandise and sign some autographs in the foyer. Okay, I get that, not easy to move product in the digital age, but still… It’s a shame to give the crowd such a good laugh and then have them be impatient by the time the next act comes on…

But the irritability soon faded when Tig Notaro took the main stage! For those of you not familiar with Tig, she is a Southern US born comic and working actress, and I think this was her very first time playing a crowd in London. Unlike a lot of comics, who are all joke-joke-joke, she is more of a story-teller – Her jokes may run long and sometimes take a while to get there, but the punch-line is really worth it. And there aren’t a lot of comes who can makes weird silences and awkward pauses so damn funny! She is also so great at engaging the audience. It felt like 20% of her set was just gaming with the audience and eating constantly (and hilariously) sidetracked. Not to mention that she is also unbelievably brave – I don’t think most people, even comedians, would have the balls to laugh at their own bought with breast cancer; and I can’t imagine many women joking about having to get a double mastectomy. And despite the fact that she has been on TV and in the movies (admittedly mostly as a bit player) she just seems really friendly and approachable. She was outside selling her T-Shirts and CDs and happily signing autographs after the gig – Which led to the hilarious instance of her trying to fathom how to spell my name!

So I hope I’ve turned some of you on to something new, something fresh. Sadly, she was just scheduled to do the one show here in London, but try to remember this glowing recommendation next time you see a play-bill or advert… “Oh yeah, that Indian guy on the internet said she was pretty funny. Let’s check her out…

Comics on the Brain

So I have been a bit spaced out these last few months. With another year of University just around the corner and a whole lot more free time that I knew what to do with, I have, admittedly been a bit aimless. So it was good that I’ve had the opportunity to really throw myself into “this comic book thing” (as some of my friends have called it). And frankly… Its been brilliant!

First and foremost, I am now a full-fledged partner in Meta Desi Comics, along with my friend, cohort, and writing partner, Akshay. What does that mean? Well for one thing, as long as we can drag this out, and hopefully put out some stuff worth reading on the way, I am part-owner of an independent comic publisher… I now write and publish my own comics. So major bucket list item checked! And Meta Desi is doing pretty well. We have a new comic by Spanish artist Stephano Cordoselli called ‘Love Me Like A Psycho Robot‘ coming out at the Bangalore Comic Con, along with Volume 3 of our very own ‘Ground Zero‘.

But wait! That’s not all! I’m also now writing a regular  weekly web comic, as well as taking up other projects, along with Akshay and Anant (fellow Meta Desi team member and Artist). So while I may be studying Tort or IP or Constitutional Law, I’m happy that I’ve got a good few “passion projects” to keep the creative juices flowing.

But this isn’t all about me (for a change!). Indian comics are getting bigger and better every year. And that’s probably thanks in no small part to Comic Con India – they have really upped their game over these last two years – I mean the talent at Comic Con Delhi (desi and International) was fantastic! And now Bangalore Comic Con and Hyderabad Comic Con are promising to be just as off the hook!

But while the hype is growing, and more people are looking at investing in local stories and talent, there’s no denying that there is a long way to go before Meta Desi, or others like us, can really make a full-time go of it. But let me take this moment to thank those that support us – whether it’s through infrastructure, buying our comics, or just spreading the word. Hopefully I’ll write one of these posts again in a year and have even more amazing things to say, maybe we would have closed shop. Who is to say. Unlike Volume 3 of Ground Zero, the future is yet to be written…

But till then, those of you who want to get behind us, here are some helpful links:

A recent write-up in Bleeding Cool – “Rising From The East – Meta Desi Comics Publishes Love Me Like A Psycho Robot, Partners With Bookmaker

Our Launch Schedule: “ICBM Launch Schedule

We’re also available to read on your iPad or iPhone using Readwhere and you can also order our comics from Indian comic giant Raj Comics.

And come see us in person at the Bangalore Comic Con – we’ll sign your comics for free!!! Book Your Tickets Now!

That’s all for now, but hopefully not for good…

Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy

WARNING: Contains Minor Spoilers!!!

So after what felt like an eternity of waiting for it’s cinematic release a group of fellow nerds and I finally watched Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘ and right off the bat I have to say… This movie is easily one of the top 3 projects Marvel has ever executed. I mean I went in with some pretty high expectations, so I was pleasantly surprised when Guardians surpassed all I could have hoped. Though whether or not it is in fact the best Marcel flic ever depends on how it holds up to a re-watch next week.

What really struck me was the sheer amount of talent that Marvel drafted for this movie! And I’m not just talking about our protagonists, but rather, every second character was an A-List, if not popular B-List, player! I mean John C. Riley and Glenn Close as a Nova Officer and Nova Prime (respectively), Come on! It felt like every two-three minutes I was going – “Holy shit it’s that guy” And it wasn’t like they were thrown in willy-nilly either – Each one of them blended seamlessly into what was just one great piece of story-telling.

Speaking of characters, anyone who has been following the build up to the release knows that Rocket Raccoon and Groot just steal the show. Their on screen chemistry is sheer awesomeness (and yes I’m aware I’m talking about fictional, computer-generated beings). While I did love Star-Lord (Chris Pratt is just so awesome as the wise-cracking fearless leader of this troupe of trouble makers turned tyrant-taker-downers) he just isn’t the one most people came to see – that honour went to a barely recognisable Bradley Cooper and the completely unrecognisable Vin Diesel! Though, (and this is the closest this review comes to negative criticism) pI’m not sure why they chose to underplay Brax as a power-house, especially with a frame like Dave Bautista’s to run with.

The main thing Guardians has going for it though – something that helps it really stick out from the mass of super-hero flics that have hit the box office over the better part of the last decade – is how it has taken so many chances and, in so doing, has expanded the Marvel-Movieverse like no other before it. I mean it was daring enough to green light a project that doesn’t have larger than life titans like Thor and Iron Man to help sell it (not to mention a range of stand alone movies to build a viewer base) but to then also just let loose with the crazy visuals and introduce all new villains, worlds and civilisations – it was risky – but it worked! And where it easily surpassed all other superhero flics – DC, Marvel or Image – is that it took the focus off Earth – something that has me looking forward to exploring so much more of the amazing cosmos that exist in the great Marvel canon. It’s not just about earthlings any more, here come the Kree, the Xandarians and possibly the Skrulls (can anyone say Captain Mar-Vell : D).

Well I’ll stop there lest I fawn too much and make you pre-judge this movie. Because I really do want you to go see it with fresh eyes… make up your mind as to how awesome it is! : D



P.S – And this definitely is a spoiler… That post-credit Easter Egg – Howard the Duck! Whaaaaaat?!