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Explicit language, themes and artwork for a mature audience are determining the changing face of graphic novels and comic books.
A graphic novel billed as the first ever to tackle the theme of zombie infestation; another, a prequel to the movie Agent Vinod; and a third, the exploits of a Sadhu in post-apocalyptic world. The new graphic novels that are slowly catching the fancy of audience have taut plots, explicit artwork and language, as well as themes that are nowhere close to the "regular".
Graphic novels or comics by Indian writers are not only adapting fast to the dynamics of an ever-changing reader, but also accommodating styles used by writers in the West. Boasting of a cult fan following, works such as Superman: Man of Steel, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth and The Killing Joke score because of their detailed graphic language and artwork.
Jatin Verma, head of Comic Con in India and the brain behind Pop Art Publishing, which published Zombie Talkies, says, "Mythology will always fascinate Indian comic book writers and graphic novelists because we have all grown up on it. What has changed is the acceptability of uncommon themes. Publishers also want to invest in them even if they are too graphic because the target reader base is in the age group of 21-35 years of age."
A case in point is the comic, Agent Vinod – The Jungfrau Encounter that was released last year. Adopting a completely different storyline from the film, the book received rave reviews for its fast storytelling style and stunning artwork. Saumin Patel, who did the artwork for the film, says a series of meetings before the movie with both Saif Ali Khan as well as director Sriram Raghavan set the dice rolling. "Both Saif and Sriram know comics very well, and when Yogesh Chandekar and I met them for the story, it clicked," adds Patel, who won the award for Best Penciller-Inker at Comic Con India 2012 for the comic.