For the longest time, comic and film fans from Pune had been eagerly waiting for a fandom mela where they could unleash their inner geek which came true at the Comic Con Express Pune held at the Deccan College Ground on the 20th and 21st February. As a lover of Mark Millar’s comics and also a proud binge watcher, this was THE place to be. Aptly taglined as ‘the best weekend of the year’.
As I entered the venue I saw the very helpful volunteers lead the visitors to the correct ticket booths as the crowd was overwhelming. After I got the ticket and a welcome from the ticket person, I was greeted with high-fives by the volunteers on the way to the main hall. Just after the security check were two amazingly painted cars with anime characters namely Saitama from One Punch Man and Goku. Adorned with bright yellow and orange, the cars would’ve been a delight to color and then drive to the venue.
Entering the main exhibition hall was like stepping into a pandora’s box which contained everything from modest but detailed keychains to high-tech sound sensitive shirts. It was certainly a paradise for the non-conventional crowd of Pune. Right in from of the entrance were Star Wars novels and pop-up books by Scholastic detailing the internals of the Millennium Falcon and the specifics of Vader’s all-black outfit. Next up were dozens of merchandise shops including books, t shirts and even a card game which seemed like the Indianized version of Cards Against Humanity which was pretty cool. A special artist alley was allotted for Indian artists which included Abhijeet Kini, Saumin Suresh Patel, ICBM, Speech Bubble Comics, Holy Cow Entertainment and Amar Chitra Katha. However, I failed to sight Tinkle anywhere, seeing as to how they had a big stall at the Mumbai Comic Con. Multiple racks were overflowing with comics and manga which attracted a huge amount crowd.
Sitting right in the middle of the hall were the special guests of the event, Peter Nyugen who is a comic book artist comics like Batman: Unhinged and others to his credit and Ivan Brandon who is also an artist who has worked with DC, Marvel, Image and other publishers on comics including Deadpool, Drifter and the Eisner-nominated anthology 24Seven. Both of them were fan favorites as they interacted passionately with people waiting to get a picture clicked with them and also for an autograph.
But the serious action and the panels which Comic Con is famous for were held at a specially constructed stage adjacent to the main hall. The two artists had sessions here on both the days which attracted all the people from the the main hall to the stage area. The drawing session with Peter Nyugen and Abhijeet Kini were the most memorable experiences as Peter live sketched Harley Quinn and Abhijeet sketched an Angry Maushi version of Harley Quinn, complete with Maushi’s hammer and her ‘amboda’. We also witnessed the launch of various comics and graphic novels here including the finale of TNT by Shamik Dasgupta, Shaitan by Holy Cow Entertainment among others. The Star Wars quiz was the one of the most exciting events which made the whole crowd crazy with excitement. Besides the launches, sessions by Aniruddho Chakraborty from ICBM, a Behind The Scenes look from the DSK International studios and Stand-Up comedy by Azeem Banatwalla from East India Comedy were the highlights of the lineup.
What is a comics convention without cosplay? Pune had a lot of characters from all sorts of TV Shows, movies, videogames and anime. We saw two deadpools, at least 5 jokers and 2 harley quinns along with a batman who also has his batmobile with him. Other characters included Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, Licker from Resident Evil who won the golden ticket to cosplay at the Middle East Comics and Film Convention. We also saw anime characters from Naruto, One Punch Man among many others. A masterfully crafted Iron Man costume won over everyone as it almost looked like the real suit, complete with the glowing reactor and mask.
One of the main things that make events like these successful are the people who support and lovingly embrace the modern pop and geek culture. And Pune showed us that we are at par with other cities like Mumbai and Bangalore when it comes to being one with the force and forming a legion of similar minded individuals. Let’s hope we have a bigger, better and crazier comics convention next year with even more awe inspiring events and cosplays. Until then, keep reading those comics and bingeing on your favorite TV shows and movies.
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