Nagraj takes on Coronaman
A recently released special edition featuring the cult Indian comic superhero comes with a covid-19 twist
The novel coronavirus and covid-19 disease might not go away anytime soon but Indian comics superhero Nagraj has managed to fight the wretched villain “Coronaman" in the fictional city of Mahanagar—with help from its residents.
As part of their effort to spread the message on prevention of the disease, Indian comics publishing house Raj Comics recently released a nine-page special edition of Nagraj which pits the cult character against a character called the Coronaman. Titled Nagraj Strikes: The Attack Of Coronaman, it depicts the superhero trying to stop a villain from infecting the people of Mahanagar with the covid-19 virus.
“The main thought was to reinforce the idea of staying home and following the precautions as notified by the government, different ministries and the WHO (World Health Organization)," says Ayush Gupta, brand manager for the comics publishing house, which was founded in 1984.
Gupta has also penned a small note on the second page of the comic, as a tribute to all medical workers, researchers and authorities, grocery store owners, cleaners and “countless other heroes who are working tirelessly to defeat the virus".
He says that since most team members of the publishing house are working from home, a select group of people had to work round the clock to get the special edition ready in just three days.
The story was conceptualized by him and Manoj Gupta and sent for artwork to Aswin Amarnath R. “If you take the per page average, one page usually takes at least two days to complete—everything from the artwork to the colouring. But we just doubled up the efforts and tried to bring this out as soon as possible," Gupta says on the phone.
The publishing house has also been spreading the word on staying home through its other popular characters, like Super Commando Dhruva, with the help of stand-alone posters available across its different social media channels.
The special edition of Nagraj can also be read on Instagram, while a link to download a PDF of the comic, in Hindi and English, is available on the publishing house’s Facebook page. It is also available on the Google Play Books app in an e-book format.
Nagraj, which translates to “snake king", was first introduced in 1986 and struck a chord with readers thanks to the character’s close links with Indian mythology.
Gupta says they are planning to release more special issues, possibly featuring other famous characters like Parmanu and the anti-hero Doga. “Since the lockdown has been extended, we are thinking of sending out ideas to children on how to utilize this time while you are at home. It’s just an idea and still in the planning stage as of now," he adds.
In keeping with the trend of publishers taking the digital route to engage readers, Raj Comics had digitized around 2,000 of its 3,500 comics five years ago and made them accessible on an Android app. But Gupta says there are still people who prefer holding a copy of their favourite comic book in their hands. “There was a drop in physical sales during 2009-10 but after 2012 there has been a steady increase in demand. There are still a lot of readers and collectors who prefer buying physical copy because of the nostalgia attached to it," he adds.