The Indie Comix Fest came to Kolkata last week after a long wait – it was an initiative to promote independent comics from individuals from around the country.
It first began at Mumbai in 2017 as a volunteer-run fest where comics’ creators booked a table and displayed their comics for sale. The fest was first spearheaded by Bharath Murthy and Aniceto Pereria, who volunteered to bring out the alternative comic scene in India, comics that was beyond cape crusaders from DC, Marvel, Raj Comics.
The Kolkata chapter initially met with a few hurdles with its selection of the date and venue, but the YWCA Kolkata gladly took up the role of hosting the fest, which saw creators from the city come out with their comics on display. The fest began with few readers in the early hours, but it thickened by mid noon. Among the first time fest participants, there was the well known Horsho Mohan Chottoraj, who brought out Indie Fest special ‘two in one’ black and white comic book Dark Destiny, and Fish Tale.
Shreya Sen, an illustrator and graphic designer, brought to her table pocket-size comic books #Orangetoons and Courage. Amartya Talukar, the popular blogger based in Kolkata brought his comics Dialogue Between Men’s Rights Activist and Feminist, and An Illustrated Book on Men’s Rights Movement in India. Udisha Agarwal had a table full of pocket-sized experimental comic books and zines. Sumantra Mukherjee presented hand-bound, black and white silent comics call अबNormal, capturing various images from the city and its human experience, and the comics anthology Vérité, was a bestseller at the fest.
Many readers and comics enthusiasts were hoping they could buy Appupen’s latest comics the RashtraMan, but the author couldn’t make it to the fest.
The fest also had a comics making workshop with Horsho Mohon, who taught comics enthusiasts how to make their own four panel comics.
The Indie Comix Fest introduced something new to Kolkata (a city slow to change and used to institutional-culture) — and it was the idea of a volunteer-run fest, where no sponsor banner hung, there were no institutions backing it, nor was it promoted by famous artists.
It was an uninterrupted interface between the comics-maker and the comic buyer without any entry free or advanced booking passes and goody-bag mishap. The motto of the Indie Fest is to create a community for creators, and provide a place where readers get to meet independent creators and learn and explore different stories drawn with help of the comic form.