With the focus on the New York Comic Con lately it’s easy to forget – if we even realised – that comic cons are a global phenomenon nowadays.
With three days until the Hyderabad Comic Con kicks off (in India, for those who flunked geography at school) The New Publishing Standard will be doing its best to share a flavour of the India comics scene.
And while India’s home-grown literature, arts and mythologies provide ample material for Indian comics, it seems they just can’t get enough of the US comic scene, but would prefer it with just the smallest of tweaks.
This week comes news that America’s famous Archie comics will be published in India, with glocalised covers, albeit only for the comic con event.
Way back in 2014 Sandip Roy lamented
RIP Archie Andrews: Even India Could Not Save You.
That was the sad story of how Archie’s producers tried to get a foothold in the Indian market by having the Riverdale gang tootle off to Mumbai in what was seen by many as a condescending attempt to (absolutely no stereotype pun intended – it’s just the right word for this entence) curry favour with the Indian comic reader.
Fast forward to 2017 and Archie is back in India.
The Hans India reports that “Comic Con India in collaboration with Archie Publications has commissioned special #1 editions of popular Archie titles with exclusive Hyderabad only cover.”
Ticket-holders for the Hyderabad Comic Con this weekend will receive a specially re-printed #1 edition Archie with a customised cover showing the Riverdale crew visiting the Charminar, Hyderabad iconic monument.
But I’ll end this be returning to Archie’s first Indian adventure, and again turn to Sandip Roy to explain why sending Archie to India backfired:
It’s not that we could relate to the lifestyles of Archie and his gang. But it was a relief that this was not moral science masquerading as teen fiction. In a world where we were being programmed to not think about anything other than that coveted engineering or medical school ranking, Riverdale High was even more of an escape than Bollywood films. For all their song-and-dance, chiffon-in-the-Alps fantasies, Bollywood films eventually drummed home the virtues of settling down, family, duty and responsibility … In the Never-Never Land of Riverdale High, however, nothing mattered other than girls, jalopies, pizzas and baseball.
And that, I would suggest, is at the heart of why Archie has remained popular all these years, everywhere it goes.
Because Archie was – and still is – the antidote to angst-ridden superheroes with secret identities, complicated love lives and supervillains bent on world conquest, whether in Metropolis or Mumbai.