Interviewed by Geetanjali Dighe
Comics/Graphic Novels is still a small category yet the excitement around it is palpable. I met with Vivek Goel over coffee; he founded Holy Cow Entertainment in 2011, publishes Ravanayan and Aghori. He is full of infectious enthusiasm as he tells me about his journey.
When he was just out of college, he says, “I tried doing various things, odd jobs. I even trained for merchant navy, but I quickly realized that was not my calling!” He spent eight years in the industry working with publications such as Amar Chitra Katha, Raj Comics and Tinkle.
“I had a lot of ideas – like Ravanayan“, he says. “Ravana is the biggest and baddest villain in the Indian Mythology. I wanted to explore his dark side.” ‘Ravanayan is the story of the darkness that Ravana chose and his reasons for doing so’, says the first book.
“I decided to form my own company to try out new ideas have a better control over what I had in mind. At the first ComicCon in Delhi, on the first day, I sold all my stock of comics – over 1000 copies. That day I thought that perhaps I was on to something.” Around the same time the movie Raavan directed by Mani Ratnam was released. Hindustan Times covered Ravanayan to explore the stories of Raavan and that publicity helped the sales.
His other popular series is Aghori written by Ram V (Ram’s story appeared in ISF Issue 1). It’s a series where a man, living in an urban city, takes up the powers of Aghori Sadhus. The story delves into the paranormal. His readers are teens and adults in their early twenties he says. “They have an open mind. They are hungry for something new” he says. What is interesting his readers have not necessarily read DC/Marvel comics. Many of them are first-time comic readers.
Being a small publisher, in a new genre, is quite experimental. What inspires you? I ask and we spend the next few minutes talking about Michael Turner. “Reading the first issue of Fathom was a turning point for me.” He says. “I learnt like an Ekalavya from him. Michael Turner’s fight with bone cancer makes me feel that the obstacles that I have faced are nothing.”
Holy Cow is one of the few creator owned comic publisher in India. The small team works out of his Navi Mumbai studio. Vivek is involved in the entire process of buying the paper, ink and pencils to ideating, to even delivering the copies at times. “Nothing beats the feel of a simple brush bought for some Rupees. No fancy pens for me.” He smiles.
The third issue of Aghori and final issue of Ravanayan will be released at the Bangalore ComicCon this June. Panels from his next series That Man Solomon are included inside Aghori Book 3.
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