The fifth edition of the Mumbai Film and Comic Con was more about merchandise than art. Building upon the bar set high in 2014, this year, we saw a lot of people dressed up as Movie and TV show characters apart from characters of the Marvel and DC Universe, participating in the ever popular cosplay competitions. There were panel discussions by eminent people in the comics and film industries and book signings by popular web artists. The exhibition stalls were overpowering the spirit of comics and films, as each and every merchandise seller tried to outdo one another by using promotions and sales pitches.
The convention floor saw the influx of Indian comic book writers and graphic novelists, who were trying hard to reach a mainstream audience. An “Artist Alley & Indian Comics Village” featuring artists from all over India was set up where fans got an opportunity to interact with artists like Vivek Goel, Shamik Das Gupta, Abhijeet Kini, Saumin Suresh Patel, Reshmi Chandrashekhar, Raviraj Naik, Parth Kothekar and Leena Swamy. Last year, we managed to experience almost all the artwork present in booths and we were elated to find more artists turning up this year. This edition also saw the launch of eight new titles, World War Two: Under the Shadow of the Swastika & APJ Abdul Kalam: One Man, Many Missions by Campfire Graphic Novel, Kaged Muscle by Vimanika Comics, Ganga & Bhishma by Holy Cow Entertainment, Antariksh Tales by Kailash Iyer, No Stereotypes Plz & Terrorism Explained by World Comics India and The Caravan - The Blood War 4 by Yali Dream Creations.
The three international guests, Rob Denbleyker, Author of Cyanide and Happiness; Joe Harris, American Comic Book writer & Screenwriter and Gavin Aung Than, Cartoonist & Creator, Zen Pencils were present on both days and interacted with the fans and participated in panel discussions and Q&A sessions. Sylvester Mccoy, Actor, BBC One’s hit series Doctor Who & The Hobbit (as Radagast) also engaged with the audience and had a few sessions with the attendees. The previous year’s response from Mark Gatiss’ session, who is also the writer of Doctor Who, made it clear about the love people had for the TV show. Kevin Eastman, the co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, joined via skype for a live session.
(L-R):Joe Gavin and Rob at MFCC
The cosplays were clearly the best part of the convention, with Marvel, DC, Anime, TV Shows represented and they were as amazing as the cosplays we saw last year. It was clear that there was a lot of effort put into each and every costume at the convention. There even was an EVM (Electronic Voting Machine). The professional cosplayers repeated many of the costumes used at other conventions and even previous editions. At the previous edition, the grand prize for the cosplay contest in 2014 was an all expense paid trip to Australia to participate at the Oz Comic Con. This time, the grand prize was a golden ticket to the Beijing Comic Con 2016. The cosplayers on both the days, got on stage at the end of the day and showcased their costume and props to the fans and judges.
Some of the exhibits also saw the use of tech in the comic and film space. There were a few AR and VR gaming stalls, and a stall showcasing Wacom's products. Wacom was advertising their tablets, which artists could use to directly create digital artwork. The panel by Rob, Joe and Gavin saw the artists talk about digital publishing and the rise of webcomics. Rob, the creator of the popular web comics, Cyanide and Happiness, talked about how the popularity of web comics has made it easier for new artists to get a foothold. With the delayed release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens up close, Star Wars fans had some relief, with all the major exhibitors giving away free merchandise and holding contests. There was also a Star Wars Battle Pod where fans had the opportunity to experience the franchise.
Experiencing all the exhibits and attending sessions of every special guest is quite difficult since the crowd is often overwhelming more than anything. Comic Cons are a little bit about the merchandise too, but it’s not fun when the whole convention center is filled with stalls selling T-shirts and keychains, some of which are just alternatively drawn posters. The ugliest part of the convention were the new startups trying to push their apps to the consumers by offering them free stuff for just downloading the app. Some of them even offered WiFi access for the download. Unless you're dedicated enough to attend both days, you are bound to miss out on something or the other. With fans ranging from all over the world, Mumbai’s version of comic con was exciting for some, and disappointing for some, but at the end of the day, every person went home having experienced something new.