Jatin Varma: An Interview with the main-man of Comic Con 2014

 Hello Jatin,

You are the Founder, CEO, the main-man, the Batman so to speak for the Comic Con Justice League. The head Honcho! The Professor X to the mutants, the Star-Lord to the Guardians, Black Bolt to the Inhumans! The references are innumerable. The world of comic books and superheroes has touched down on our glorious coast. I have been tasked with asking you a series of serious questions regarding Comic Con 2014 and the life which it has spawned. So channel a rather loud-mouthed, shouty and argumentative TV presenter, the nation wants to know!
Ever notice how he always ends his remarks in an exclamation mark, forgetting that once he says it, no one really knows how to follow.
Anyway, we digress:
So Jatin, a few questions about yourself:
1) What are you? 
Are you DC? Marvel? Vertigo? Dark Horse? Who brings out the night in you? 
I am DC.
2) Did you tell your mother when you decided to take up this adventure in the world of painted heroes? How did she take it? What did the parental control units think about the madness known as Comic Con? 
She is one of the reasons I am doing what I’m doing. She encouraged me to read, especially comics. In fact, she used to buy me the comics I wanted, so I owe her a lot for that. So yes, she wasn’t surprised by this and was quite happy.
3) What’s the most epic cosplay misadventure that you ever witnessed? Were there stockings involved?
The Joker is a very common sight at every convention and sometimes, the person is not even trying. They have just painted their face white and their lips red, which isn’t really cutting it. You see a lot of such half-hearted attempts, but I’d still want people to keep trying. Even if it fails, it adds to the uniqueness of the event.
4) Jokes aside, a serious question: This is the third convention; what does that mean to you? What were the hurdles you faced this time? How has your day differed? Do you wake up and shake yourself, because you are involved in your passion in a way that only a few of us can dare to dream? 
It’s a much more complex process now. The scale and size of each event has gone up drastically in the last year, which comes with its own set of unique problems. But Bangalore fans are going to get a lot more this year, as compared to the last one. The hurdles remain the same, whereas the size and quantum just keeps increasing.
5) Getting the plans going, the crowd, the monster machine churning, what have been the motivating factors? What does Comic Con mean for the publishing houses? Has there been a surge in local artists and authors? What is the pulse of the event? How do you feel about the pilgrimage that is made every year?
It might sound cheesy, but the best motivating factor event after event is seeing the happy faces during the event. That is why, no matter how torturous the planning and execution get, seeing happy fans around you certainly makes it all worthwhile.
For a lot of the smaller publishing houses, it’s a great venue to sell, and we try and take all possible efforts to help them with it. There has been an increase in the number of local artists and writers, but I wouldn’t call it a surge yet. Hopefully, this will keep increasing steadily over the next few years. The pulse of the event is the audience, they make it work by giving the energy.
6) Speaking of the Con, there are 3 very special guests this year. We have David Lloyd, Peter Kruper and Dan Parent. What has their work meant to you? We have everything from Hellblazer, V, Kafka and Archie. What are your thoughts about this eclectic group? How has their work influenced you?
We also have Sana Amanat, editor at Marvel Comics and co-creator of Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel, joining us as well. A lot of the work done by each of our guests is iconic and something that Indian readers, including me, have connected with. Whether it’s V for Vendetta, Mad Magazine or Archie comics; their work has kept the passion and love for comics ever-strong. I am very excited to have them at the event.
7) Now for your piece de resistance (I know, you should read that in a French accent): Neil Gaiman. The conjurer, the spell caster, the author. This is a huge deal. The man who gave us Good Omens, American Gods, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Doctor Who episodes, Hellblazer stories, stories about Swamp Thing, Stardust, Neverwhere, various short stories, Sandman, Eternals and so many more. I could go on. But tell me, what has Mr. Gaiman’s wonderful body of work meant to you? Getting him as a special guest is the cherry on top of the sundae that is the Comic Con. What did it take? What is he like? 
This cherry on top of the sundae was all due to the hard work of our creative head, Eshita Ghosh. She was able to convince his team for a video conference, because having him over physically wasn’t feasible at this point in time. I am very excited about this. While I like Sandman, its the Swamp Thing and American Gods, which have intrigued me the most. He is a literary genius and I hope that we’ll be able to host him in person at one of our events.  I will be sitting as a fanboy in the audience for this one and listening closely!
8) What is the reach of the Comic Con 2014? Lets talk numbers. What has the growth been like? The participation? The interest? Give us a sense of the depth of this quasi-religion (leave or remove). What is the level of Nerd-ism? Does it go to eleven? (5 points if you get the movie reference).
–  Comic Con had over 2 lakh visitors last year. We hope to surpass that this year.
– We are in 4 cities. We plan to take this to 6.
– Till last year, our show floor was about 20-25,000 sq. feet, whereas we are now averaging 40-50,000 sq. feet.
– Multiple international guests and exhibitors at each event.
– An average of over 100 exhibitors at each event.
9) In our little maddening world of running around and screaming, what is a source of calm for you? Do you feel like the centre of a storm – calm, but surrounded by battling winds? What does the day after Comic Con feel like? When it is over and the last guests and attendees have trudged off into the sunset with a huge smile on their face, what do you feel? 
Sadly, the work doesn’t end once the event is over, it continues. I take a short break where I become a hermit, holed up in my house with books, re-charge and get back to work post the event.
10) Last question, in a manner of speaking: What does the Con mean to you? A few words about this labor of love and passion. 
It means a lot of things, but the best way to describe it is Home. It honestly feels like home.
That’s it, folks! Those were the questions. We would like to thank Jatin for taking the time to answer questions about this marvelous gathering.
So comic book fans, come to the Comic Con Bangalore, 2014 and see for yourself. Be a part of this adventure. In the words of Stan Lee, Excelsior! Continued power to the endeavor! Glory be to the pencils and may the night bring dreams to life.

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