May 29, 2016 marks the 6th anniversary of Holy Cow Entertainment, in its journey so far HCE has created a shared universe of its characters and released successful series like Ravanayan and Aghori. On this auspicious we have Vivek Goel, CEO and founder of HCE, in a candid conversation where he talks about the future plans of HCE and his relations with the Indian comics industry.
HCE started the year with Caster and recently age of immortals #2 was also released. What is the lineup for this year and how is HCEverse going to expand?
Post Ravanayan, we realized that the future of any comic book company relies of IP’s, characters, coming from the background of drawing superheroes and reading mainstream comics, i suddenly found the next station for my journey – a shared universe.
Started with Aghori and then within aghori we introduced our next flagship character Desh – The last Asuran (whose 1st story arc is written and i am personally drawing it), step by step we started to come up with concepts and ideas on what next, what next and as every plot got finalized we started spreading seeds and hiding Easter eggs of upcoming character and their references. We apparently found out a very logical step of introducing new characters with the finishing arc of the already running one. We developed a habit of including Epilogues for the last issue of every story arc. Its actually what happens in the wake of the last event and how did its repercussions fell across India and then connect it either with the 2nd arc or or new character. This also happens to be the perfect way of letting people know that they all share the same universe and thereby making them read the comics in a proper chronological order.
Its a very tedious thing to do because you are actually working with multiple writers and artists doing different titles and how to keep the connections and interjections logical and not forced but the results are tremendously positive and mostly at the comic cons when customers come to know of this, you should look at their faces, it pays in the end, in many ways other than cash.
Speaking of Caster, he is India’s 1st Catholic superhero because we needed one. Holy Cow may have started with the big bang of Ravanayan and Aghori being Hindu centric but we needed to have a territorial diversity in our comics and religious as well so that every single person can connect to them. You see Christianity in India is somewhat different than Europe plus it has far less complications than Hindu religion which is completely grey. Christianity is simple black and white – father and Lucifer and THAT opens up a lot of portals for great storytelling opportunities and conflict of interest in between our own characters and how they will emerge post that.
Caster is a 3 issue story arc and Age Of Immortals is an 8 issue 3rd story arc of Aghori series. We will be completing Caster this year and almost 5 issues of AOI since we only publish 8 issues per Annum.
For next year, we will be launching 2 new flagship characters coming from 2 entirely diff. backgrounds, scripts are already been written and art is also in making. we generally plan 12 months ahead of the schedule thus keeping us on a safer side and giving the writers and myself to plan even better.
Modern generation spend their most of the time on mobile and tablets. Going digital gives you more reach & saves production and distribution costs. What are your views on digital comics and do you have any such plans for HCE?
As of now, India does not have a digital book reading market, not much and hardly 5% people across India read comics digitally. How do we know that? Because if it would have had happened we wouldn’t have been getting sold out or almost sold out at the comic conventions, even International events 🙂
Maybe in the future but not at least till 2020. I interact with thousands of people across India and when attending international comic cons and most of them love to feel a printed copy in their hands with which they can snuggle up in their beds at night and read leaving all their worldly worries apart.
You and your team frequently collaborate with many other publishers like Yali Dream Creations, Red Streak Publications and recently with Raj Comics for Doga. The small comics industry is expanding and growing gradually. How the comics scene has been evolved in India in past few years?
We do outsourcing a lot. The thing is that, people like us are now listed in the Endangered species act of India, there are hardly any comic book writers and artists left. I believe in sharing and Asvin Srivatsangam of Yali is a good friend of mine. My artists are in an exclusive contract with Holy Cow and whenever they are free i loan them to Yali, mostly Yali because we have a pretty good professional relationship. We just once helped Giving Red S. a cover because of their financial issues, we generally do what we can so that the industry remains, variety remains. I have no interest of being the last surviving publisher in India.
We also did 2 issues and a lot of posters for Doga and Nagraj for Raj comics, they are our seniors and myself and Gaurav Shrivastav are the by products of RC so when Mr. Sanjay Gupta called me up and requested to get a couple of issues of Doga done, i just could not say no. At the end of the day we owe certain obligations to certain people and most definitely fans, they desperately needed a brand new look of Doga and we delivered just that. The 2nd issue is yet to be released.
Sharing is very essential because the market is so small that we have to watch each others backs and properly cultivate whatever artists we have at our disposal so that they can become something entirely else, they can evolve.
You are also a mentor to many artists and found some of the great fresh talents for the industry. How would you advise the aspiring artists who want to enter the comics industry?
As i said in my previous ans., being the senior gen. and in my case when i am sitting on both the sides of a coin (artist – publisher) i have a fairly good understand now after 6 years on how to balance both. It IS our responsibility to cultivate and guide the next Gen. of storytellers, i consider myself very lucky that got this opportunity to guide a lot of souls into proper mainstream comic books WITHOUT being exploited in any manner. If we do not do that, post 30 years from now, the Indian comic book industry will die.
As a passionate comic book lover and a fan myself i do not think i am doing any thing special or doing some special favors for anyone. We grew up as self taught and i know 1st hand how much time it takes to be a self taught and to reach where i am today. My only 2 points of guiding new blood is to reduce that self taught time to a literal half if the sit and practice right next to me and we need to pass this gift, this talent to the upcoming people, it should not die with us.
HCE is offering a birthday sale of flat 25% off on every box set and holycow.in