Things I did in Bangalore this weekend

  • Conducted Infinite Rampage, the KQA quiz on comics, comix and graphic novels. Which was the reason I was in Bangalore in the first place.
  • Somehow managed to be placed second in the Open quiz that followed.
  • Managed to spend my eight-month-old Premier book coupons on worthy Items-on-Wish-list. Bought six volumes of Spirou, that I had promised to buy when I saw them in Walden a couple of weeks ago. Also bought ( and finished reading yesterday ) Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief by Stephen Alter, an informal look at the Bollywood machine. It’s actually more of a making-of-Omkara, but alternate chapters are dedicated to various aspects of Bollywood, and I must say that Alter manages to be pretty informative without dissolving into film-journalistic cliche. And now I want to watch Omkara all over again.
  • Found a new edition of The Mammoth Book of Vampires, ed. Stephen Jones. I had bought the older edition of this book at Guwahati, a long long time ago and after much soul-searching – what to do, finances were tight at that time. But the last story in that collection, Kim Newman’s novella Red Reign made up for it all. This was the novella, incidentally, that spawned the Anno Dracula trilogy, possibly my favourite Vampire series of all time. It’s written in the same fan-fictioney, shared-universey vein as Philip Jose Farmer’s Wold-Newton novels and Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – an alternate history of real and fictional characters revolving around a new society of vampires and humans. The new edition of tMBoF has Newman’s Andy Warhol’s Dracula, which is a sequel of sorts to the third book in the series, and which was only released as a limited edition book-format before, muhuhahahaha. Am really, really glad I picked this up.
  • Seriously disappointed by the graphic novel collection at Blossom and Bookworm. Most peeved at the fact that they are not stocking newer volumes of Negima and Genshiken, two Del Rey Manga titles I’ve been following closely. There are tonnes of DC/Marvel TPBs, but nothing substantial that I wanted. Pah!
  • Ganked Borrowed the third book in the Watch series, Twilight Watch from madhav. Why, why, why isn’t it available anywhere I look? Gah!

On the Pile

Blossom has copies of both Apollo’s Song and Ode to Kirihito, two Osamu Tezuka classics being reprinted by Vertical books, with snazzy cover designs by Chip Kidd and a very very readable English translation. I had bought Kirihito when I was in the US, and was just about to order Apollo’s Song, when a friend called up to inform me about its availability in Bangalore. He also went to the trouble of buying it for me and sending it through someone who was travelling to Hyderabad, and as a result – new Tezuka book for me to read. Yes! 541 pages of Tezuka goodness! Though I honestly hope that people aren’t buying this book for their kids – its dipped in mature themes, I see loads of cartoon nudity as I flip through the book, and the opening sequence is bizarre look at human reproduction.

The next Tezuka offering by Vertical is another 600+ tome called MW, available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s due for release in the US in November. Am I getting it? You betcha!

The other item on the pile is an Indo-Russian production which I bought because (a) I remember being totally floored by the movie when I saw it as a kid and (b) It was available for half-price at a Planet M sale. Bless you, Indian DVD companies, for understanding the necessity of price cuts in your offerings. I bought and watched Raghu Romeo on the same day and would have also bought Benegal’s Junoon, but I got into an argument with the salesman. The MRP had been slashed from 350 Rs to 199 Rs, and then there was a 50% discount. The salesman had put the discount on the original price, not the revised MRP, and no amount of cajoling would make him budge. The hell with it, I will just buy Junoon some other time.

About Ali Baba Aur Chalis Chor – I remember very vividly the innovative design of the “Open sesame” cave, which showed a waterfall flowing in reverse and the cave opening in the cliff. When I watched the opening sequence again today morning, it was surprising how well the scene still holds up today in terms of SFX. Does not look cheesy. The other thing I noticed was the proliferation of Russian actors – and except for the well-known Indian artistes, everybody else seems to speaking in Russian, with the Hindi lines dubbed on. So it was a bilingual production! Most of the production crew was also two-fold, one Indian cameraman and a Russian one, two directors, two production designers – I am keeping an eye out for the other Indo-Russian fantasy film I know of – Ajooba, which I remember was a turkey the first time I saw it, but I don’t mind seeing it again. The scene where Sonam ( playing an Arabian princess ) puts a miniaturized Rishi Kapoor in her blouse deserves an award in itself. Did I just type that? Yes, I just typed that.

Amazing. The complete movie is online on youtube.


Among the things I’ve been doing recently

– Watched the complete Firefly, followed it up with Serenity, the comic book and followed that up with Serenity, the movie.

-All of that instilled in a newfound zeal for watching TV series, so I watched half of Berserk and two seasons of Spaced. Started watching The Adventures of Brisco County Jr now.

– Five copies of this are available at MR Book stall, right opposite my office, at 250 Rs each. I have no idea how and why the book is there in the first place. Filed under “Rude-shock-of-the-month”. ( Rude because I have no money to spend. )

– I did have Walden gift coupons to spend though, thanks to a Special Hard-working Person who agreed to let me use 1000 Rs worth. I bought Ramesh Menon’s Devi Bhagavatam ( swear the guy’s writing Indin mythology books faster than I am reading them ) ( and good ones at that ) and Mihir Bose’s History of Bollywood. Reading the latter right now, periodically wincing at the lack of editorial supervision that pervades the writing. Subhash Ghia? Anupam Kher was an up-and-coming star of the nineties? Sheesh. At least the facts seem to be in order so far.

– More lustworthy releases include the two disc edition of 300. 699 Rs and way beyond my budget at the moment.

– Also drooled a bit over the new Koji Suzuki collection that seems to be available at Walden. I already have, and have read Ring, Spiral and Dark Water. Loop was there, too, but I’m holding out for the hardcover, so didn’t buy it.

– There was also the Mammoth Book of War Comics, which had, among other things, two stories by Darko Macan and Edwin Biukovic, Will Eisner’s Last Day in Vietnam, a Commando issuem, an early version of Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen and some Sam Glanzman Blazing Combat stories. 704 Rs, pass.