Manta Ray Comics has definitely set a mark since the release of graphic novel Hush that dealt with child abuse. Now, this indie comic and graphic novel publishing company has released Mixtape 1 and 12 Preludes while Mixtape 2 and 12.1 are slated for a June release at the Bangalore Comic Con (June 1 and 2).
Pratheek Thomas, the 31-year-old co-founder recalls how Manta Rays was born, “At that time, my younger brother Vivek, who was (and still is) working in a TVC production house shared his idea for a short film with me.” With a story’s metamorphosis into a comic (like a storyboard), things fell into place at his friend from engineering days, Dileep Cherian’s suggestion. Although triggered in August 2009, operations only commenced with Hush’s release in January 2011.
After two years of no standalone publications — due to their alliance with Mint (The Small Picture) and stints with Motherland, Forbes Life, and upcoming pieces in Fountain Ink and Blaft’s Obliterary Vol 2 — Thomas has shifted gears. “We’ve released two new book-lines this year: Mixtape and Twelve.” The first being an anthology of four stories that works as a platform to encourage new and established contributors. The former is an ambitious takeoff from the inspiration Flight series. “It’s a collection of 12 individual stories, connected by a common theme. I’m writing all stories in Twelve and collaborating with various artists who have very diverse styles,” revealsThomas.
Emphasising on their indie identity, they’ve steered clear of the mainstream imagery, ideas and even distribution network. “We don’t like several mainstream trends — especially the mythology, superhero stuff. We’ve also set a strong mandate for ourselves: we will not objectify women — this is important, especially when a lot of superhero stuff (especially abroad) does it. We’re telling realistic stories, with relatable characters, and I think that connects. Also, our creators are some of India’s best today — with diverse art styles and sensibilities.” Both Mixtape and 12 Preludes are rights-free file types in a pay-and-download format.”
With monochrome being the dominant shades for the canvas, Thomas offers a peep: “Volume 1 has four stories and they all belong to different genres. The Silver Spider (story by Praveen K Nair and art by Devaki Neogi) is about a young boy who goes about in his backyard, peeing on all the spiders he can find, and drowning them. Lovely Thing, My Beloved and Voyeur are unconventional, too.”
“We want to release a comic every month,” asserts Thomas. In the anticipation of the forthcoming, he shares, “There is Pursuit by Vivek Thomas and an award-winning automobile designer Rupesh Aravindakshan. Loneliness by Gokul Gopalakrishnan who’s a sub inspector in Kerala has written a story that women will especially relate to. Anil KS is an animator whose story really blew us away.” For fans of Twelve, he shares, “Even with 12.1, the stories will be at least of 30 pages. As we proceed, some of them will get much darker,” he concludes.
For online copies: Download from www.instamojo.com/ mantaraycomics
For Print copies Order from www.instamojo.com/ mantaraycomics and Leaping Widows, 3, Corner View, off Yari Road, opposite Bianca Towers, Versova, Andheri (W).