Published: 02nd November 2017
Tricks of the trade: A bestselling comic book author, and MD of Nivea India, offers insights into the comic book industry
Want to be a comic book artist and don't know where to start? Neil George offers some tips and tricks
The last we spoke to Neil George, the MD of Nivea India, was about four months ago when he came out with his first book, Building the Perfect Beast — What Really Happens in Brand Management. This book, which tells us about the inner workings of brand management and teaches us lessons along the way in the form of a comic book, is now in its fifth print. Its international sales have gone up and it might even turn into a TV series soon, we hear through the grapevine. We think it’s pretty safe to assume that the book is a hit and has given the Kochi-born author an insight into the comic book industry. So, when we wanted to understand the industry better, it's only fair that we turn to him.
First time: The cover of Neil George's first book
We jumped right in and asked George about the global scenario and he listed four factors that are influencing trends in India. "Superhero movies and others of the same genre are propelling readers towards comics, who, after watching these blockbusters, want to understand the character more deeply and hence turn to the books," explains George. Also, huge stars like Gal Gadot are infusing life into new comics. Of course, events like Comic Con, which are pop culture hotspots not only abroad but in India as well, help spread the comic craze. "We are seeing all this play out in India as well," he says, adding that upcoming comic book artists must ride on this emerging wave.
Kid you not: When George was a child, his uncles visiting from abroad used to bring several English language comic books for him
One of the ways to do so is to create strong characters and build content around it, believes George. "Look at Cartoon Network. The series around Lord Krishna is so popular. Abroad, people have to create superhuman characters, for us, they already exist in the Ramayana and Mahabharata and other such epics," he says, adding that these could be good starting points for novice artists, giving us some food for thought in the bargain.
India's rich past is an untapped territory for comic book ideas, waiting to be explored
But be warned, not only do you need an idea, but you also need financial backing as well because, "comic books won't make you rich." Unlike a regular novel, where all you need is a pen and paper (or a laptop), for a comic book, you need a whole lot of technical know-how. And if you aren't trained professionally, to create a good quality comic book could prove to be an expensive affair — like $20,000 expensive — because one is charged per panel. Also, a lot of unprofessionalism exists in the industry, he tells us, recalling a painful personal experience where the artist he hired went MIA after finishing just eight chapters. "Also, creating the comic book is only one aspect — there’s also publishing, marketing and making money out of it. If you expect it to be an instant bestseller, it's not going to happen," says George, telling it like it is.