Life in a comic book

If comics were inseparable to your growing up years and continue to be, re-discover this world at the Comic Con Express that flags off this weekend. While you will spot classics and old favourites, check out the 14 new titles to be released that range from the spiritual to the filmy

"How far is heaven?" a man asks an Imam. "Just two steps," replies the Imam -- the first being ego and the second heaven itself. This simple tale based on a chapter from the Koran is one of the many comics that Bangalore-based Ali and Arif Vakil have presented in their comic book, 40 Sufi Comics. The book is one of the 14 titles that will be launched at the first Comic Con Express to be held in Mumbai this weekend.

40 Sufi Comics by Arif and Ali Vakil

The Comic Con Express, which is the travelling version of the Annual Indian Comics Convention will see a variety of comics on display and sale along with book launches ranging from the stories of Ravana's life (Ravanayan) to the edgy, adult Adventures of Widhwa Ma, Andhi Behen. The two-day event is expected to bring in 60 participants, 45 exhibits and many interactive sessions, contests and fun events for comic lovers.

The Adventures of Widhwa Ma Andhi Behen by Adhiraj Singh

Between the pages
Of the many comic books that are going to be launched in India at the event, 40 Sufi Comics caught our attention. After all barely a handful have attempted to represent the stories or teachings of Islam in comic book format. "When I was growing up in Dubai, I read many comics on Indian culture and legends of Hindus in comics. But there was nothing this simple for Muslims.

When I studied in the Madrassa, the stories of bravery and faith that I was taught there stayed with me even after I grew up. I decided to put these in a form that would be easier and simpler for people to grasp," he explains about the title, which not only has comics based on the Koran but also many stories of Islamic saints and prophets.

40 Sufi Saints that was published earlier this year, has already been made part of the syllabus of a Madrassa. "It is not just for kids but also for people of other faiths to get an idea of Islamic teachings and bridge the gap in understanding the religion," adds Vakil, who is currently working on the sequel to this book. Ask him if religious teachings can be effectively conveyed through comics and he replies quickly, "Of course. In fact, comics can be even more effective than text."

What's in a name?
Moving on from the serious and spiritual, we felt a title like Widhwa Ma Andhi Behen, cried out for attention. "It draws inspiration from the movies of the '70s where the mother and the blind sister were integral to most stories," explains 23-year-old author Adhiraj Singh. "The hero and villain fight, the hero romances the heroine, what do the hero's mother and sister do?

That's how this comic came about, where the mother daughter duo will go around solving crimes," adds Adhiraj. If you're are a fan of the '70s movies such as Don, Amar Akbar Anthony and Jaani Dushman, you will find parallels in the comic as many of the characters from these films will be seen playing cameos in the book. A heavy dose of filmy clich �s also finds their way in these pages.

"There are a lot more comic launches including Ra. One and Don 2 comics. We also have fun mascots including Wonderbai and Wolveranna," says Jatin Varma, founder, Comic Con India, who is obviously a self-confessed comic fanatic. "Everyone will be nostalgic and thoroughly entertained. There will be launches, sessions, contests or fun events every half hour. It's a great way to revisit your childhood days," he adds.

On: Oct 22 and 23
Time:IME 10 am to 8 pm
At: Expo Centre, WTC, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai.

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