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!

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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‘.

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Packed Panels, Featured Writers and Even More Cosplay – The 4th Annual Comic Con India 2014 – Day III

With the dust settled, the clouds parted and a good night’s sleep finally had, I sit down to reminisce about the third and final day of Comic Con Delhi 2014… Oh how I miss it already. Contrary to my beliefs Sunday’s crowds weren’t nearly as intense as I imagined. Indeed Saturday probably saw a lot more people fluttering in and jamming up the aisles. But despite the crowds being lesser than my expectations, the Con still had an amazing day – the Cosplayers (though they seemed to congregate much later in the day than before) came strong and proud and the panels were hands down the best of the Con (save the best for last I guess!).

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Sold Out Cubees, Signed Copies and More Cosplay – The 4th Annual Comic Con – Day II

Despite how encouraging yesterday was the three amigos at stall C12 could not have been prepared for the reaction that Delhi showed today. People came out in droves to check out Comic Con ok its second day. And they came ready and happy to spend many hours browsing the offerings and supporting the exhibitors. The independent publishers saw massive crowds pretty much all day and from most accounts, people saw the works and wares practically flying. And Meta Desi saw the surprising turn of events when our Cubees, which were put out simply as a novel gimmick, sold out of all but one character! (On a personal victory, Cowzilla and Dara – from “Holy Hell” – were amongst the most popular).

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Ye Hamara Con Hai – The 4th Annual Comic Con India 2014 – Day I

After a rather hilarious and strangely exhilarating day at the Comic Con in Delhi I sit down to ponder over the day’s events and maybe highlight a few choice memories with you, my dear readers.

Comic Con India hasn’t been running long – today was Day I of the 4th Annual Con – But in these few years I’m glad to see the strides that the community has made – the organizers as well as the visitors. In sharp contrast to the first Con I attended (held at Dilli Haat) it was great to see how the independent publishers, artists and authors have really grown in presence and can really hold their own. Gone (I hope) are the days that Merch alone rules the floor and its time for the indie guys to shine. For example, Meta Desi Comics, which is carrying my first attempt at writing a comic – ‘Holy Hell‘ (written along with Akshay Dhar and carried in Ground Zero Vol. II) had a pretty good day not just selling issues but also in general interest; which is fantastic because they’ve only really been in the game a year-year and a half. I know this because when I wasn’t roaming the convention floor looking for offers and checking out the cosplayers I was chilling in booth C12 annoying my writing partner and buddy Akshay (come check us out!).

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The Game Is A-Hoof – My First Comic!

I am super psyched to announce that my first attempt at writing a comic shall soon see the light of day! ‘Holy Hell’ is a (hopefully) fantastic little absurdist comic which will come out later this year as a part of the second ‘Ground Zero’ Anthology. Original concept by Akshay Dhar a.k.a Sipder42, Script by Mr. Dhar and yours truly and art by the talented Abhijeet Kini.

What follows is a short little promo to give you a taste of whats to come – hopefully it will catch your interest, or at least hold it momentarily as you sip your coffee or tea or Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

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NaPoWriMo – Day XIV – An Ode To Batsy

Today’s challenge is to write a persona poem, i.e. a poem in the head of someone who isn’t me. The stuff I’ve been writing recently has been quite emotionally draining, so today I decided to do something a little more on the fun side. So here goes, a poem dedicated to one of my favorite heroes, written in the persona of one of his least favorite people.

Oh Batsy, how I love thee
Shall I count the ways
With an arrow through your head
Holding a live grenade!

How I enjoy our little rivalry
It’s cute to see you try
To stop the growing madness
The flames climbing to the sky

Gotham is my playground
Surely you know by now
The only reason you’re not dead
Is it’s too much fun to have you around

But remember little Jason?
My wasn’t that some joy
I wish you’d been there Batsy
As I beat the life out of that boy

And to think that he came back
And stole my old look
Good to hear you stopped him
He was going a bit off book

What game shall we play next?
Maybe I’ll team up with Bane
Maybe I’ll kill the commissioner
Maybe I’ll kidnap Mr. Wayne

I don’t know why they say I’m crazy
I’m the sanest man I know
I don’t waste my time chasing fame
I don’t sacrifice love for dough

I’m an artist, a playwright
Here to herald your doom
I’ve got a surprise for you Batsy
3…2…1… BOOM!

Easter Egg Hunt

As exciting as it is to find chocolate covered in glitter and paint in the middle of a patch of grass, those aren’t the easter eggs I’m talking about. I’m talking about the virtual kind. A lot of you might be familiar with these, even if you don’t know it. A virtual easter egg is basically a hidden message or image tucked away in a movie, TV show, computer program, video game, crossword, heck anything really. They’re usually left behind by the author as a little joke or just a nod to rivals or deserved predecessors. The term was apparently coined by Atari – legends in the arcade game industry (who sadly filed for bankruptcy earlier this year).

For fans they are a lot of fun indeed. In fact for those of us who just don’t seem to get ever get tired of watching great movies – like the Avengers, Indiana Jones, Kill Bill, Star Wars (the original trilogy), Die Hard, Back to the Future – and a million others, it’s a real kick to catch these little hidden images or references. It’s like an extra dollop of hot chocolate on your sunday or (if you are so inclined) sprinkles on top of your scoop. It’s also fun to see that the creators themselves have a sense of humor. Sure this is phenomenon more common to more light-hearted genres, but easter eggs are abound in movies you wouldn’t have even thought of. I can just imagine a software designer or director chuckling to himself as he throws in a joke most people would not even notice – only the worthy (and the unbelievably obsessed).

Some quick examples of my favorite easter eggs before parting:

  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – In the beginning of the movie we see our hero visiting a night club called “Club Obi Wan”! Classic example of George Lucas having some fun with some cross-franchise homage.
  • Pixar with its constant references to its other movies – The little girl from Monsters Inc. with her Nemo doll and the Pizza delivery car from Toy Story which was in almost every other Pixar flic!
  • Thor – Ok this one is pretty subtle. In the movie Portman gives Thor her ex boyfriend’s clothes – his name being Donald Blake. Those more familiar with the Thor comics will realize that this is actually Thor’s alter ego, his human identity.
  • Stan Lee – Ok this man is a legend! And if you pay close attention, you’ll realize he’s in like every Marvel movie. He’s the man reading the paper who almost gets run over in Daredevil, he’s one of the security guards leaving the facility in the beginning of the movie in Hulk (along with the original big man himself, Lou Ferigno), he’s in the crowd as the balcony collapses in Spiderman, a mail man in Fantastic Four – ok you get the idea!
  • The episode of HIMYM where Marshall’s dad dies – It was somewhere around No. 42 I think that my friend and I realized their was a countdown, prompting us to go back to the beginning and yell out loud every time we found the next number. Great easter egging, though around No. 3 I remember thinking, oh no, oh crap, something bad is gonna happen…

Right so maybe I’ve helped open your eyes to a whole new world! Or maybe I’ve just given you a few funny examples. Or maybe I’ve contributed absolutely nothing to your life whatsoever. Well it can’t all be sunshine and rainbows can it sonny?

Then again, maybe you got more than you know. Close followers of my blog might realize that there may just be a few hidden eggs here and there, if you’re really looking ; )

Web Comic Review – Commissioned Comic

Ever find yourself thinking in D&D? Well, Commissioned Comic is pretty good at illustrating just what that might look like. I found myself genuinely intrigued watching the lines between real life and RPGs blend in this web series. I think the reason contemporary geeks might find it particularly appealing is that it envisages the hypothetical hilarity of pitting the contemporary geek – you know what I mean – still slightly socially inept, but not always the clichéd image – massively thick glasses, pale as all hell from a lack of sun, pimpled like we’ve never heard of Clearasil – against real life social “quests” like talking to that hot girl at the bar or confronting a nasty neighbourhood dog. I mean I can’t be the only one who has had day dreams of casting a “knock” spell on a locked door when you can’t find your keys or wished I had a particularly high CHARISMA or DIPLOMACY skill – you know, to get out of sticky situations, or into them if that’s your aim.  If you hadn’t guessed yet by the way, I am particularly partial to the Wizard/Mage classes. I haven’t played the classic D&D myself but have always been a huge fan of the many RPGs that D&D gameplay has inspired such the Baldur’s Gate series or Neverwinter Nights.

Back to the focus of our review though – Commissioned Comic, by artist Obsidian, is a nice concept. There are plenty of web comics that focus on gaming or revolve around the antics of classic characters, but this web comic takes a different perspective – that of an artist who is commissioned by different characters to do their portraits (thus the name) and his party of D&D gamers. As mentioned before though, its novelty lies in the mash-up of the realms of reality and imagination. However, though I love the gameplay dynamics, I didn’t find it particularly hilarious. Interesting yes, but not laugh out loud. I can see myself popping back once in a while, but I don’t see myself following religiously.

Apart from the comic series the site also makes available single sketches by the artist – the Art Barf! series. These could be anything really – dungeons settings, combat scenarios, character portraits, classes/races, monsters. They are stylistically quite different from the comic itself. In fact I would be hard pressed to club them all into the same artistic style – they seem to employ quite a diversity of brush strokes (theoretically speaking – I mean they’re created in Photoshop, not on a real aisle), thematic perspectives and color palettes.

The artwork has evolved since the comic started – going for more realistic detail. I suppose if I had been following for a while I may not have noticed, but since I read through a whole lot of the comic for the purposes of this review, it’s quite apparent, even though it’s not drastically different. This isn’t a feature unique to this particular comic. Many web comics evolve artistically as time progresses, while others choose to maintain an element of continuity. I suppose this is really a choice left to the artist. And yes sometimes more defined artwork can make the comic more appealing and attractive. But I would just mention as a thought that artists should be careful with this choice. It might not seem like a major change, but in my opinion the feel of a comic does depend to some extent on its look and artwork. For example – Cyanide & Happiness has a very distinct art style, and it suits their formula.

Checking out the comic and the Art Barf! art work is of course free, but they offer a host of extras for those who want to join the ranks of their premium members, including invites to Convention after parties, exclusive sketches and desktop backgrounds and high-resolution comics. Check out the comic here – Commissioned Comic

Adventures in House Sitting: Part II: Geek’s Night Out

I spent most of yesterday out of the house – in fact I never actually made it home, but we’ll get to that. Thursdays are generally gruelling – I have two back-to-back lectures – that’s 4 straight hours of class. So I usually count on my cappuccino from Costa to get me through it.

Yesterday was actually a lot better than most weeks. My International Comparative Copyright class was being taken by Jonathan Griffiths, who is also my dissertation supervisor, and we were covering Moral Rights, which I personally find really interesting. It’s also a core part of my dissertation so it was good to hash out a few interesting questions in class. My second lecture was for Cyberspace Law, where we were covering Data Protection and Privacy. Now to the lay man that mind sound pretty boring, but man would you be wrong. It’s actually a very interesting topic and something the average person should definitely know more about. Do you know what to do of Facebook sells the information you upload to marketing companies so they can target advertise? Do you know if they’re actually legally permitted to do something like that? What about the fact that the ads on he right side of Facebook or your Gmail account seem to know exactly what your interests are? Do you know how that works, or did you just think it was a coincidence? Well it’s questions like this that we’re dealing with. If you’re interested read up, you might be shocked. And check it out this video, you might never use your Gmail again! Google’s Master Plan

After lectures a bunch of us trekked across to Embankment to attend a Reception and tour of The National Liberals Club (more on that in another post). After, I ended up having a pint with some people around the corner, this is where the night of Geeking officially began! My friend Jose and I basically spent most of our time over drinks talking about video games, movies, comic books, the media and probably half a dozen other things. Quick highlights (so that I don’t lose you like we lost the other people we were with last night!)

  • Tarantino – I said Pulp Fiction is overrated, he said that you should look at it in its time, for which it was groundbreaking, but agreed that its not Tarantino’s best – we both agree that most of the people who say they love it, love it for the wrong reasons
  • Braveheart – He said it was overrated, I said he must be outside his mind. Also Mel Gibson’s movies were better before he went insane.
  • Die Hard – My preference order 1,3,2,4. His 1,3,4,2
  • GL vs Superman – I’ve been having this particular debate with dozens of people over the last week. I still say GL – he seemed a bit on the fence

When we finally got back to his place (around 1) the night was far from winding down, what followed was hours of more Geek talk, a few quick Poker tournis and then some more card based games, but the dueling and fantasy kind. Warhammer Invasion in particular was a lot fun, and I’m told that I actually drew a rather strong class, but a lack of luck in drawing some of the better cards got me thrashed.

After a morning (or rather early afternoon) of more geeking – this time talking Graphic novels, Sandman in particular (one of my favs!) and some fun Lego riddles (which you can find on Gizmodo) I’ve finally made my way back to the couch at Leslie’s – question is what now – study or veg? Hmmm…