In Conversation With The Creator Of India’s First Manga Series - The Beast Legion
Posted on 18 July, 2016 by Team Wishberry
Award winning web-comic creator, Jazyl Homavazir, can be credited as the artist who brought India its very own Manga series, The Beast Legion. The ongoing high fantasy manga styled web-comic follows the adventures of an exiled Prince who returns to save his land from the grasp of a tyrant.
We spoke to Jazyl about his interesting journey as a Mangaka, life, and art in general.
You first began work on ‘The Beast Legion’ back in 2007 when Animax had its Pan Asian Writing competition. How much have things changed in the Indian Comic industry since?
Jazyl: Back then I used to constantly think of various other worldly scenarios and concepts, the competition actually pushed me to script ‘The Beast Legion’. Once I began work on it, there was no stopping. Designing the characters took a really long time; I only launched and entered the scene in 2010-11.
The advent of Comic Con India has brought numerous closet comic book lovers out in the open, which made me realize the huge market of people who I could approach. The convention has given budding comic artists encouragement to publish their work independently. It is a great place to interact with likeminded people and find business alliances. Plenty of growth has happened in the comic space, but it still is slow paced.
You won the Comic Con Award for the Best Web-comic series; tell us all about your journey as a writer and illustrator.
Jazyl: Receiving the Comic Con award for the Best Web-comic series has been one of the biggest boosts of motivation I’ve ever received. I don't think of myself as a writer, Beast Legion is possibly the only thing I've framed in depth as it comes straight from my heart. But, illustration is something I've been doing forever - I started drawing at 5 or 6, following the footsteps of my elder brother. 80s cartoons are what got me interested at drawing in the first place, it helped me pick my profession. Along with Beast Legion I also illustrate for two other web-comics, A Song of Heroes and an anthology that is yet under wraps.
What challenges did you face while making this book?
Jazyl: Many, so many problems that I’ve forgotten most! The biggest issue was to get the style right; and content copy written. After conceptualizing the idea, I knew I wanted to draw the comic in manga style. It didn't matter to me if the comic wasn’t accepted, I drew a few manga style illustrations before but that wasn't enough to prepare me for a whole comic. I have to agree that I struggled in my first 3 issues, but by the 4th issue I pretty much nailed it.
Then, came the web-publishing bit, even though it all seems like a piece of cake, the struggle was real. You’ve got to be patient with earning as well. It takes a lot of time, and if people don’t know about your comic you have to spend money on ads, which don’t come cheap.
Also, the stalls at Comic Con had really high rates; even though I managed good sales the only bit I took home was exposure.
What would you say has been the highlight of your journey so far?
Jazyl: Learning that I had fans has been the highlight of my journey. At the 2012 convention I was thanked by a few fans for introducing them to the world of manga, which made me ecstatic. I was happy to know that I played a little part in the whole Indian manga revolution.
In spite of Comic Con doing a lot in the Indian Comic Industry, why do you think has the comic industry in India not picked up?
Jazyl: I’m not really an expert at this, but I feel this is so because, 1. There isn’t much the management does to support indie creators. I observed the management at the London Comic Con would go out of their way to promote independent artists’ works – affordable stalls, strategically placed booths to attract heavy flows of audience, and more. Plus in India, promoting merchandise is given top priority. Indie comic book booths are placed at the end, which leaves audiences just skimming through instead of investing time in exploring and learning more about a comic.
According to your experiences, can you shed some light on the major problems in the industry right now?
Jazyl: Distribution is probably the biggest factor. We actually don't have publishers who invest in independent comics, in fact some publishers expect you to pay for getting your comic out to retail. For web-comics online distribution is a saviour, but graphic novels and books are still struggling.