Fans of comics love graphic novels as much as ever, but the cinematic renditions have the younger generation in thrall
To say that the DC and Marvel Universes have made a significant and somewhat quick segway into the Indian mind would be an understatement. From the release of the first few Batman, Superman and Spiderman films a little longer than a decade ago, Indian readers have come a long way. They have built friendships, communities, and rivalries alike, in their love for these graphic novel characters.
The vibrancy of these fan clubs is thanks to social media, with Facebook pages and Instagram profiles dedicated to the universes, crossovers, and even individual superheroes. And as if the fanbase on social media is not enough, an equally large number of people also participate and make it a point to visit Comic Con, an event which is on every comic lover’s bucket list. A plethora of online shopping portals have also emerged with Marvel and DC merchandise for all the fans — SouledStore and Postergully being a few examples.
The fan base in India is a dedicated one. Nor are these readers restricted to the world of art and speech bubbles. They have been exposed to entire universes in each of the narratives, all of which they have access to — including the speculations and spin-offs that emerge for each storyline. There have innumerable online discussions debating whether or not the writers of the graphic novels and films base their next publications and productions on the speculations that the fans come up with. Each of these arguments is littered with pieces of literature and proof supporting their theories.
These exchanges via computer screens are not only amusing and enlightening, but also strangely academic. Each side of the debate would be so well versed in the subject that only a large amount of involvement or research can yield. The fanbases are nothing short of spirited, not unlike the kind of fan following that sports gets in India.
Ekalavya Chaudhury, a student of Presidency University, Kolkata, gives a detailed explanation of his sentiments towards the DC and Marvel universes. He puts an argument not unheard of in the graphic novels circuit. He is of the belief that DC has had the better storytellers, like Alan Moore and Frank Miller, but Marvel has done much better in the cinematic field. “I think they have the right idea in having people who actually themselves self-confessedly loved Marvel comics as children work on the cinematic products,” he says, “having such people on board means they automatically understand a lot of nuances about what people expect from the characters and the stories.”
Chaudhury says that DC is treating this as more of a business which not only results in poor products, but also in poorer profits. He signs off by admitting that he has always had a soft corner for Marvel since he has been an ardent fan of Spiderman ever since he was a kid.
Krishna Kumar, a media studies graduate, says he loves the DC Comics, but the Marvel movies even more, “My favourite hero is Batman.” Krishna is not only intrigued by the storylines but the artistry in the graphics as well. He says one of the many reasons he loves comics is because “in a way they show us the future — what humans can and may achieve.” He is an ardent follower of all pages that have anything to do with DC, Marvel or Manga, and can barrage anyone with extreme amounts of information owing to his knowledge on these subjects.
Anything is possible in these worlds. Men can fly, little girls can walk through walls, a teenage boy can climb walls… As we proceed in this world, in the 21st century, all the things that once held wonder because they were impossible, now hold a beacon of hope and potential — and a sliver of confidence that anything really is possible in the future.