In 2005, entrepreneur Dinesh Shamdasani took over an ailing Valiant Comics and in the course of a few years turned it around, making it one of the largest comic book publishers in the United States after DC and Marvel. A man who clearly knows a thing or two about comebacks, Shamdasani has great hopes for seeing an upturn in fortunes for the Indian comic book industry, which for the last decade has has been in a state of freefall.
In the capital for the Delhi Comic Con 2015, an upbeat looking Shamdasani said the Indian market is one with great potential. "I feel you are going to see a real boom coming out of India in terms of creation and in terms of Intellectual Property," he said amidst a hectic autograph and interaction session with fans at the convention.
In the mid-2000s, Indian comic books in an attempt to re-invent themselves, had been repackaged with glossier pages and new art styles. This in turn led to a dramatic hike in prices, and along with a saturation of western films and TV, led to plummeting readership figures.
"I think the decline in readership is generational. I think what happens in any industry is ebbs and flows and that is what you are witnessing right now," Shamdasani said. He further cites examples of the Japanese and American comic book markets which had witnessed a similar flux, emphasising that the key to bringing back readers is quality output.
"The same thing happened in the Japanese and the American comic market. Its all about quality and now what I think is happening is the American characters are becoming global because of movies and television shows and that is inspiring all the Indian publishers to come up with better material," he said.
"I think Indian fans have a proper taste and if they see good material, they like it. It is the same thing as in the American and Japanese markets. I think its a market with a ton of potential. And I think you are going to see very quickly that potential come to fruition," he said.
As the CEO of one of the biggest comic publishers in India, Shamdasani has ambitious plans lined up and is looking to play a part in unearthing new talent here. "I hope Valiant as a publisher can help that happen. We have already been talking to several publishers and artists here about giving ideas and taking ideas. We should build a bridge now between America and India in terms of comics," he said.
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