With great power there must also come — great responsibility!
-Stan Lee, Comic Book Legend
Collecting, reading and investing in comic books and graphic novels is a hobby in the West, with diehard fans collecting books, reading them and some fans retaining them in mint condition and then selling rare comic books for a whooping profit later.
This rage is slowly coming of age in India with Indian fans lapping up comic books because of their thrilling plots and amazing graphic work. Orange Radius is a popular name in these circles in India.
About Orange Radius
Orange Radius Arts Private Limited is a content creation and publishing firm founded in September 2013. They started the firm with the aim of creating English comics and graphic novels for the Indian and international markets to establish a universe of new-age characters, exciting plots and gripping stories. The idea always was to create original and ‘never-before’ seen content. Since the inception, they have launched four English comics, three of them under a continuing Superhero series ‘Parshu’ and an illustrated anthology of short stories- ‘Blind Spot’.
Parshu is an Indian Superhero series which has completed its first arc across three issues (Origins, Rise of the Warrior and Retribution) and has seen the establishing of a modern Indian superhero-warrior. In ‘Parshu’, they’ve tried to blend ancient with modern and have created a universe they intend to grow by introducing more characters and sub-plots.
During his visits at the Comic Con the one thing that struck Raveesh Mohan, the Founder of Orange Radius, was the lack of Indian Superheroes in the English comics which were being published. It was strange because Superheroes are almost synonymous with comics. He saw this as a huge opportunity and started writing about ‘Parshu’.
The idea came from Lord Parshuram, an avatar of Vishnu who was a very strong character. However not much has been written or told about him. Raveesh wanted to base a character revolving around his strong persona, a character of 'guts and glory' similar to Parshuram. His revered axe --the Parshu -- particularly fascinated Raveesh, as it had a personality of its own. He decided to take up the concept of Parshuram and worked around with it to deliver a new age, next-gen Indian Superhero Warrior who has his lineage from Lord Parshuram. He wanted to introduce a young character to the Indian readers who they could relate to in terms of his 'typical Indian' life.
Raveesh wanted the character to be superhero-ish but not loaded with special abilities. In fact, he wanted him to be a regular teen with his set of physical and mental vulnerabilities, a believable Superhero if you will. He did not want him to fly or dodge bullets. In fact, he has created a character armed with an axe and good old courage and grit to fight against his adversaries.While Lord Parshuram will be featured across issues but his role will be limited. The series is about Parshu and his confrontations with external adversaries and his internal conflicts. Lord Parshuram is the guiding mentor but they have tried to develop Parshu as a character who deals with his predicaments on his own, the mythology aspect is quite limited.
Parshu has seen three issues launched till date- ‘Origins’, ‘Rise of the Warrior’ and ‘Retribution’.
Here is a short video to give you an idea about Parshu :
The illustrated anthology of short stories, ‘Blind Spot’, contains four different stories, illustrated by four different artists, each story with an unpredictable conclusion. ‘Blind Spot’ was a massive success at its launch at the Delhi Comic Con earlier this year. Though they’re young, they have received excellent responses from comic readers across India, and are brimming with enthusiasm to bring more exciting content to comic lovers pan-India.
The market they’re currently targeting with their scheduled launches planned for is the age group of 14+. The team understands that the English comics market in India is still limited but firmly believe that this will grow, especially with the Comic Con now a regular feature across cities and the teenagers becoming more aware and looking out for good content. Add to this the viral factor that comes in with social media, they are sure that if they keep going to the target market with exciting content they will grow to be a pan-India brand.
Raveesh Mohan, Founder and Director of Orange Radius
Raveesh has always been a writer, writing short stories since he was fairly young. Comics were a hobby and a source of entertainment from a very young age. At some point the idea started forming in his head of telling stories through comics for he felt there were very few good comics being published in India and most of the readers would turn towards the West for stories and characters. He never had doubts about our (Indians) abilities as storytellers but felt somewhere that Indians were being conservative and not experimenting with stories and characters,He started working on a couple of characters and stories, showed them to friends and improved them with feedback and was ready to get them illustrated and subsequently published. He got in touch with several illustrators and decided on Rahul Jha, an extremely talented artist from Kolkata for the first issue on account of his very distinct style and colour moods.
He believes that breaking through and coming out with 3 D art as opposed to the established norm of 2D art was an experiment that received mixed reviews. However, it strengthened his belief in working with new talent. He approached several self-publishing houses but unfortunately did not find the support he needed. It was then that he decided to self-publish comics and founded Orange Radius Arts Private Limited. It was a decision that came late but he is glad it happened for it gave him complete freedom to work on his stories, characters, artists and publishing parameters instead of being bound by a contract.
The Team behind Orange Radius
Priyank Loonker: Senior Partner
Raveesh has worked with Priyank Loonker, a senior partner in the firm, who joined him in April this year. Priyank and Raveesh got acquainted at the Mumbai Comic Con in December last year and hit it off. Priyank is an amazing storyteller and they share the same passion for comics, original content and creating characters. They have been working on some very interesting concepts and charting out their business strategy and publishing plans for the next couple of years.Murtuza Ali: Illustrator on previous comics
Murtuza Ali is an extremely talented artist from IDC. He joined Orange Radius in August last year and worked on three issues. He has created some amazing art across both ‘Parshu’ and ‘Blind Spot’.
Tarun Sahu: Illustrator on current comics
Tarun Sahu, who has worked with a couple of comics publishing houses earlier, joined the team full time in June this year and will be working on upcoming issues. The founders are confident to state that Tarun's work is among the best in India and that they are glad to have him on board.
The team also works with a lot of freelancers giving opportunities to artists who they feel can do justice to the stories through their unique style. It gives the freelancers an opportunity and experience of working on comics while it helps the team come out with comics that give the readers several wow moments on account of the art.Learning curve and Experiences
“The biggest learning has been to slow down our pace of releasing issues,” Says Raveesh. They had started off with the target of launching an issue every two months, but quickly realised that the brand had to be established first before they could target this goal. They had rushed into releases early on and sales didn’t quite match up to expectations because they were new and the brand presence was limited. Since then they have slowed down and are targeting Comic Cons as venues for launching their new issues for that is where they get the maximum mileage and their brand presence increases, which eventually ends up driving sales through online sites.
An exciting moment was the team’s dedication and long nighters which helped them complete a 72 pager in a mere 24 days, an almost unheard of completion timeline. “This was for ‘Blind Spot’ and all the long hours culminated in us launching ‘Blind Spot’ at the Delhi Comic Con which turned out to be our bestseller,” he adds.
The response was initially slow as nobody knew of ‘Parshu’ and the marketing effort was largely limited to social media platforms. Though they were able to generate some buzz at the Hyderabad Comic Con in September last year, the online sales were slow. Since then they have been able to spread their brand by participating in events, by expanding their presence across various sales channels and digital mediums (Readwhere, Bending Lights, and Comics Circle).
The Delhi Comic Con saw their best outing till date with loads of praise for their work and some very good branding. The online sales through Flipkart, Infibeam, Raj Comics Online Store, and Why So Serious have also picked up. They are getting ready for the Bangalore Comic Con. They intend to ramp their pre Comic Con marketing and participate with several experimental marketing strategies.
The ‘Parshu’ series continues with new characters being introduced, thus expanding the universe. Each character will also have its own story and possibly its own series.
Orange Radius has also gone the crowdfunding way for its next couple of issues, where they intend to raise funds through their campaign on Indiegogo, a crowdsourcing website.
The campaign details can be found here.
They are also planning to be come out with an alternate universe concept this year which will be a compete departure from what they’ve done till now. The story will be a series and will give Indian readers something that they’ve never read or seen on screens before.
Priyank and Raveesh have also been working on some concepts that they will introduce in standalone graphic novel formats along with a ‘Blind Spot 2’ release sometime early next year.
Challenges and overcoming them
They have and are facing plenty of challenges, but ‘Blind Spot’ was a major challenge. The first was to get a set of talented illustrators on board for the project. Raveesh contacted several illustrators but finally decided on Ali, Sanman, Vipul and Nikhil because of their unique styles and their ability to take the script and adapt it beautifully. This process took him close to a month but once they had the team ready he had a bigger challenge of meeting the launch date for the Delhi Comic Con.
They started work on the 6th Jan and toiled extremely hard through sleepless nights to get each story ready. Each of the illustrators was extremely excited about the story that was given to him and put in tremendous effort to see them complete the book within 24 days.
The riskiest thing that they have done so far?
“My wife would say leaving my job, but I like to think of risk as a calculated opportunity. Giving up a plush job didn’t happen overnight. I put in a lot of thought supported with my own research, especially my Comic Con recces and speaking to stalwarts from the industry. I saw a business opportunity, a market that could be tapped given the right set of inputs. I believe in the power of comics as strong mediums of communication and storytelling and I think the Indian audience is maturing and the market growing. The online stores sell more comics each year, the Comic Cons see crowds growing and then there is the International market.” Raveesh Mohan said in a parting quote to Yourstory.
The team members will not be limiting their content to particular genres, they will take the opportunity to grow and reach a stage where they can take their characters to the next medium -- animation and games.
You can check out and buy any of their comic books here