Comic Book Karma
Visual Mythologies of the Hindu Modern
Keywords:Hindu comic books, Contemporary India
Virgin Comics, a transnational corporation with offices in India and the U.S., has tried to put its chosen medium—the comic book— to novel use. In 2006, Virgin (now Liquid Comics) began marketing titles that remobilize Hindu mythology for the global entertainment market. Paying particular attention to the series Devi (2006-), this article situates Virgin’s comics within several discursive and institutional conjunctures. First, I trace how Virgin’s chief “visionaries” sought to “modernize” the Indian comic. By bringing the vocabularies of Nehruvian developmentalism to bear on this popular cultural form, Virgin signals that in post-liberalization India the aesthetic has outpaced the industrial as the byword of global modernity. Second, I consider Virgin’s attempt to render the comic book a fully fungible medium, which facilitates the development and exchange of intellectual property across entertainment platforms. Newly dematerialized, Virgin’s ethereally cosmopolitan comics are nonetheless haunted by the material specificities of the postcolonial nation-state.
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