Impending Hyderabad Comic Con 2024 will reveal new dimensions of fandom

With the last edition dating back to 2019, this time, it promises to redefine imagination by bringing gaming arenas to the fore! One can certainly expect an untapped horizon 
In performance
In performance

The eighth edition of Hyderabad Comic Con will catch popular Indian as well as international artists unearthing their insights into comics and popular culture. Coming home bigger and sunnier after a gap of three years, evolving into a pivotal fixture in our annual calendar of events, Jatin Varma, founder of Comic Con India, tells us, “We are excited to bring the event back to fans in the city. It is our largest event to date, featuring experiences from Crunchyroll, Warner Bros India, and Maruti Suzuki to name a few. We are also debuting The Arena in Hyderabad, a dedicated gaming expo, that features daily tournaments, gaming experiences, opportunity to meet your favourite streamers and lots more.”

Returning to Hyderabad with a bang, the country’s liveliest pop-culture celebration will house celebrity guests, feature nifty merchandise and introduce India’s (and the world’s) best cosplayers. Attendees at the event will have the opportunity to engage with prominent creators, fostering a direct connection between fans and the driving forces behind the nation’s vigorous comic book culture.

A significant portion of comic books is independently produced by creators or under small indie publishing labels. Despite this, the scene is notably dynamic, with emerging comics and creators gaining prominence each year.

Webcomics have witnessed substantial growth in recent years, adding to the diversity of the scene. Alok Sharma, cofounder and chief creative officer at Indian comic book company Indusverse explains that all their graphic novels will be focusing on real-life incidents from the contemporary years — including superhero origin stories addressing mental health, social media validation and fake news — mainly all that resonate with the young folk throughout the country.

Interestingly, Indian illustrator Akshara Ashok, who helms the hilariously popular Happy Fluff Comics, contests the common misconception that art and cartoons are exclusively designed for children. Referencing Comic Con, she suggests that this event serves as evidence to the contrary, establishing that cartoons are inclusive and meant for individuals of all ages. Encountering artists in person and hearing their stories at Comic Con becomes a transformative factor.

Danesh Mohiuddin, Indian-Canadian cartoonist, hailing from the city, was raised in Dubai with a steady diet of Mad Magazine and European comics. The artist, now residing in Toronto, infuses echoing and detailed illustrations with energy, humour, and sleek ink lines. His work adorns various mediums, including magazines, graphic novels, children’s books, card games, toys, and advertising campaigns. At the comic convention, he will frame parodies of beloved characters while adding a playful twist to language.

One notable creation which will be showcased at Comic Con is Timeless Characters, an artwork that navigates 200 years of fictional figures, encompassing science fiction, fantasy, superheroes, and cartoons. The timeline cleverly unfolds historical contexts, illustrating exactly when the characters emerged, and how their creation intertwined with the period’s political and scientific landscapes. Beyond that, Danesh will present lighthearted parodies like Optimist Prem, reimagining the iconic Transformers character Optimus Prime as an Indian truck, injecting vibrant and whimsical elements.

Another creative venture will be Sitar Wars, an Indian parody of Star Wars, orchestrating an intergalactic musical showdown between the forces of good and evil. When asked about how Comic Con has influenced and shaped cultural perceptions and engagements with comic books, not just among fans but also in a broader societal context, Danesh says, “It is a great place to discover that there is a lot of variety in comics and they are not just about superheroes or for kids. Comics have shown their power to tell stories in history, science, politics and other heavier topics.”

Elaborating on any particular trends or shifts in popular culture that he believes, can be attributed, in part, to Comic Con’s influence, he adds, “For me, the most interesting part of Comic Con has always been watching the cosplayers outside the actual convention on the regular streets of whichever city it is being held in. It has opened our minds to different ways of presenting ourselves and surely has influenced fashion in some way. I also quite often see the comic style being used in marketing and advertising of products not related to comics.”

International artist and designer Rico Renzi says he is “excited to meet comic fans on the other side” and loves that art can bring everyone together. Rico mentions that people often inquire about the character he plans to portray, highlighting the general tendency to associate Comic Con mainly with costume play. However, he clarifies that his primary passion lies in the appreciation of comic books and art.

Rico suggests that while cosplay is a significant and enjoyable part of the event for many, Comic Con is a multifaceted gathering where enthusiasts can find something that resonates with their specific interests, whether it’s comics, art, or other facets of contemporary culture. “Everyone can find something that appeals to them at Comic Con! It fosters a sense of community and belonging for fans of niche genres. The passion and energy of cosplay groups, panel discussions, and meet-and-greets fuel a sense of shared identity and belonging that translates into online communities and broader cultural engagement,” he adds.

However, when it comes to the cosplay community at Comic Con, it is a tight-knit and supportive group. Many cosplayers share their knowledge and skills with newcomers, helping them navigate the intricate process of costume creation. The camaraderie is often evident in dedicated workshops and panels where experienced cosplayers offer tips on crafting techniques, makeup application, and costume maintenance. Cosplay, or the practice of dressing as a character from a movie, book, video game, or other form of media, is a growing industry.

For some, it’s a hobby. For others, dressing up is a year-round profession. In the month leading up to Hyderabad Comic Con, artists frantically prepare, succumbing to what cosplayer Zohair Khan calls, ‘Con crunch.’ Despite arriving late and fatigued, the community stresses upon donning their costumes. The convention floor transforms into a joyful spectacle of compliments, photo sessions, and shared enthusiasm.

Speaking about the scope entailed in the form and how the event also uplifts it, Zohair tells us, “For a majority of the attendees, cosplayers are almost an alien species. The requests for pictures flood in from the visitors and their awe is evident on their faces. To witness the joy of getting a picture clicked with their favourite characters is a feeling that cosplayers love. I generally say that as cosplayers, we are in the business of ‘spreading smiles’.”

Throwing back to the golden age of comics, the launch of Superman in 1938 and its great success spawned a series of spin-offs and created a whole new genre of characters with secret identities, superhuman powers and colourful outfits — the superhero. Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Plastic Man, Green Lantern and Flash were amongst those who followed. “Comics maintain a strong appeal for all of us and it’s even more delightful to also see the market for graphic novels catering to this demographic flourish,” concludes Danesh.

Tickets start at `899. January 27 & 28, 11 am onwards. At HITEX Exhibition Centre, Kothaguda. @PaulChokita

Related Stories

No stories found.