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Doing the Kabul Disco

Comic book writer, Nicolas Wild, finds inspiration in the Indo-European world, and has earned critical acclaim with titles such as the Kabul Disco series. Now, in the city for Mumbai Comic Con 2014, the writer chats with the guide about his craft, his love for India and his recent work on the Parsi community

Q. Afghanistan to Nepal, why do diverse cultures intrigue you?
A. Travelling to new places changes my perception of the world and awakens my senses and imagination. It is as if I have the chance to be a child again. This experience enhances my creativity and I have no other choice than to draw and report about it. I have a specific fascination for the Indo-European world, the story of civilisations and religions, and how each of them travels through borders.

Nicolas Wild’s Kabul Disco gained much critical acclaim for his wry-yet-perceptive approach. He will be at the  Comic Con 2014, which begins in the city, today.
Nicolas Wild’s Kabul Disco gained much critical acclaim for his wry-yet-perceptive approach. He will be at the  Comic Con 2014, which begins in the city, today. Pic courtesy/Harpercollins

Q. Are your works a way of culturally or politically engaging with the places you travel to?
A. Not really. Even if there are a lot of geopolitical issues in my work, my books are more poetic and ironic than political. Something between the carnet de voyage and the story of initiation. My avatar in the book has a light and candid view of the world. Through his eyes, the reader experiences my own journey.

The Afghan musical roundabout from Kabul Disco. Pics courtesy/ Nicolas Wild
The Afghan musical roundabout from Kabul Disco. Pics courtesy/ Nicolas Wild

Q. What fascination does India hold for you? Any plans to write or report about India/Mumbai?
A. This is my sixth visit to India, and my third visit to Mumbai, specifically. I wrote about my second trip to India (October 2003 to March 2004) and it will be published next year, in France, in a compilation book, amongst other trips that I have made in the last decade. In my book, Ainsi se tut Zarathoustra (Thus, Paused Zarathustra) I mention the epic journey of Iranian Zoroastrians who moved to Mumbai. Two pages are set in this city.

Ainsi se tut Zarathoustra is one of Wild’s latest works that narrates the advent of Parsis in India
Ainsi se tut Zarathoustra is one of Wild’s latest works that narrates the advent of Parsis in India

Q. Have you read any Indian graphic novels and what is your opinion of them?
A. Yes, I had the chance to meet many Indian graphic novelists in the last 10 years: Amruta Patil, Sarnath Banerjee and the contributors to the Pao Collective. I’ve read most of their productions and I’m amazed by the diversity of styles and topics they work on. I hope to see more Indian graphic novels in the future; it’s an exciting way to step inside the Indian culture through a visual story.

Two Bhutanese refugees, rehearsing for a music competition is a scene from one of Wild’s untitled works
Two Bhutanese refugees, rehearsing for a music competition is a scene from one of Wild’s untitled works

Q. Being an expat in Afghanistan must have been stressful. How did that empower or isolate your perception of the country?
A. Actually, when I arrived in Afghanistan in 2005, the situation in the country was better than what it is today. I could travel through the country easily. But slowly, from 2005 to 2007, the mood in the country has deteriorated. Travelling has become more difficult and sometimes, when the level of danger peaks, we are forced to stay home. The feeling of claustrophobia was difficult to handle, as I recall, but I was lucky to get along very well with my roommates. Friendship helped me get through the hard times. When in Kabul, adrenaline pulls your stress apart. Once in France, the tension accumulated over the years got released and that is when I experienced a period of depression. Writing Kabul Disco was a work of psychoanalysing one’s self, which helped me get through that period of depression. I wrote it to understand what had happened to me.

Q. Tell us about your love for comic books. What led you to become a comic book writer and artist?
A. I drew my first comic book when I was seven years old! I’ve always drawn stories since then and never saw it as a challenge. Doing graphic novels is as natural to me as breathing.

Nicolas Wild will meet the audience on December 20 at 2.30 pm.at Mumbai Comic Con 2014.

The guide picks
>> Head to the Star Wars Zone designed to resemble the bridge of a star destroyer with snazzy and futuristic display, equipped with Star Wars weapons, character figurines and inspired art.

One of the most promising features of the Comic Con is the Star Wars experiential zone
One of the most promising features of the Comic Con is the Star Wars experiential zone

>> Shop for funky merchandise from international publishers and merchandisers such as Marvel Comics, Wacom, Chimp, Item Number, Sony DADC, Graphic Curry, F-Gali, Planet Superheroes, Lazy Ninja, Fukwas, Urban Viking, Something Sketchy, and Bewakoof.com.

>> Choose from more than 15 new book titles including Parshu — Warriors by Orange Radius, Rim Jim by Peachtree Comics, Train Of Thoughts — The Bridge (Crimzon Studios), and Kaurava Empire II (Campfire).

Nicolas Wild Comic book illustrator and writer
Nicolas Wild. Comic book illustrator and writer

>> Take selfies with figurines of your favourite superheroes like The Hulk, Ironman, Thor and Captain America who will make an appearance at the three-day event.

>> Catch special previews of the new superhero film, Shunya, directed by Goldie Behl and the teaser launch of Baahubali, featuring actor Rana Daggubati.
On: December 21, 2 pm
At: Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon (E).

>> There is also Cosplay — the Costume Contest where kids and adults can come dressed as their favourite comic characters. The winner will be chosen from each of the five categories: namely comic book, graphic novel, animated series, movie manga, anime, sci-fi,  fantasy, and gaming. One lucky winner out of the chosen five will win a trip to Oz Comic Con, Sydney in 2015.
On: Today, 6.30 pm; December 20, 6 pm and December 21, 5.30 pm
At: Stage area, Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon (E).

Workshops to watch out for
>>
 Attend a special fan session with Mark Gatiss — actor, co-creator and executive producer, of Sherlock
On: December 20, 3.30 pm

>> Nick Spencer, a New York Times-bestselling comics writer.
On: December 21, 2.30 pm

>> Garima Gupta Illustrator Garima Gupta discusses how graphic novels opened their doors to narratives that weren’t telling superhero stories.
On: Today, 12pm

>>
 Dan Goldman, a writer for graphic novels and video games, draws comics and editorial illustrations, and crafts transmedia experiences for companies like AMC Television, Time Magazine, Foreign Policy, and New York Magazine.
On: December 20, 4.30 pm

>> Don’t miss a special live chat (via satellite) with Steven Moffat, co-creator of Sherlock, co-writer of The Adventures of Tintin.
On: December 21, 3.30 pm

All workshops will be held at Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon (E).

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