From wowing Indian comic book fans with his impeccable drawings inside the colourful pages of Raj Comics, to working with the absolute best in the US Comic Industry, Mr. Dheeraj Verma has come a long way. He is the first Indian artist who has carved a niche for himself on an International level, working with Industry giants like Marvel and IDW. We are very glad to give you Exclusive Interview with Dheeraj Verma.
Dheeraj Ji , first of all, thanks for your precious time. It’s an honour for us to have this interview with you. How are you doing?
You are welcome dear. I am fine!
Your fans here in India would love to hear about your life and what really got you into Comic World?
I would love to share my experience for sure, pretty inspiring for everyone. I am fascinated about art since my childhood, when I was 8 years old and I used to draw my favourite Amitabh Bachchan ji’s sketches in my sketch book as well as of Mr. Sylvester Stallone in the year 1983. I started reading Indrajaal Comics in 1983, though fascinated me a lot and decided to become a comic book artist since then. Even I haven’t been to any Art Collage and never took any formal training but, I tried to gain knowledge about art, comics, animation and gaming. Now I have knowledge about Comics, Gaming, Animation Movies and Live action movies too.
How I started my comic career, in the year 1991, I got a chance to work with an upcoming comic book publisher. I was excited to do this job and I did pencil, ink, calligraphy and colours, all by myself. However, unluckily those books never got published. But today my works are getting published internationally. For me it is just a beginning in the comics industry.
Presently, you’re working on Indian as well as International comics. What according to you are some of the major differences between the two?
Since 2004, primarily I am working with International Publishers like, Avatar Press (USA), Dynamite Entertainment (USA), IDW (USA) and Coffin Comics (USA). If we talk about the major difference between the two, American Publishers follow a standard for the comic books. They are very professional and do their work very honestly. Every person from the beginning whether he is a writer, penciller, editor or a colourist all of them plays a vital role. This is what inspired me to follow their work ethic.
What you are doing with the Transformers comic book is a matter of great pride for us. Could you shed some light on how did you land this gig?
Transformers are from IDW, and the best part is when they appointed me to work on a Transformer series. I got excited. That was the biggest challenge for me at that time. I always believe to accept challenges in my life. My first comic series was based on a Game “Transformers: Fall of Cybertron”. Both comic book and game were launched worldwide simultaneously in August 2012. Both Comic Book Series and Game were a hit in the market. Later on, printed version of the comic book was in the stores worldwide. Working on the human anatomy is so simple but working on Mechanical Anatomy is quite difficult. I learnt that with the help of their Character Guide. I tried to nail Transformers in my own style. I did that and got appreciated by my fans.
After that I got a chance to work on 2 other series of Transformers- “Robots in Disguise” and “The X Files Conspiracy: Transformers”. Again, both were a hit. Mainly, I enjoyed working on both series because there are other artists working on these 2 series. As the mantra is …. when you work with others then you got to know your level of work. In the year 2013 I got an offer from Brian Pulido, Creator of Lady Death. A very popular character from 90’s in US. Still very popular worldwide, that’s why she collected $260k with 3 books only. After doing Transformers, working on Lady Death …was another biggest challenge for me because, I never ever drew any female character before. Now, I am working as a series penciller of Lady Death and getting appreciation Internationally. I also got a very warm welcome and appreciation by her Creator “ Brian Pulido” himself and by my fans who gathered from all over the world, during my recent US visit for Phoenix Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con, 2016. Saga is still going on Lady Death comic book series.
Where do you see Indian comics in the coming years? With all these new publications churning out quality content, could this be the dawn of another Golden age for Indian comics, like we saw in the 90s?
As you know Marvel and DC has already entered in Indian comics market, so, future of comics in India is very bright. Only thing is that we need to have some serious comic publishers and good contents for Indian Market. But I have seen some efforts by some new ventures. It’s all started with Phantom, Mandrake, Bahadur, Garth and Flash Gordon in 1983, these were the early comic books of my life. My all time favourite is “Batman” and my ultimate Goal is to draw Batman in near future.
Who is your favourite artist? Have you ever met them?
Frank Frazetta is my all time favourite with Marc Silvestri, Dan Jurgens and Travis Charest. Now, Marc and I are good friends. Also, I met Dan Jurgens.
How do you manage your schedule? Does your personal life get affected in any manner due to your commitments to produce quality content on a regular basis for a world renowned brand like Transformers?
My schedule is very tight. I work from Monday to Friday, and in weekends I devout my time to do some paintings. That’s how I did my best to the Transformers and now to Lady Death. Lady death is the newest I am working on and I would like to share this news that this beautiful Lady collected $260k for 3 issues. It happened to be a biggest hit for me. I got tremendous response from the fans at the Phoenix and San Diego Comic Con.
Do you have any other hobbies? What do you indulge yourself in during your free time?
I love to do Martial Arts to keep myself fit. I sing a lot while I work and always loved to listen Kishore Kumar songs, online or on radio. Also, I love to go for long drive to energize myself. I am doing paintings for the last 3 years and had done 2 exhibitions successfully. Whatever I gained in my 24 years experience, I use them in my paintings.
My biggest dream is to direct my own movie and show the world that we have the richest contents in India to produce world -class movies. I normally watch Hollywood movies, but whenever I watch Indian Super-Hero movies, it hurts. I don’t know why Bollywood Movie Makers don’t explore the “Indian Comics Industry” to make better Super Hero Movies. For the last 24 years I am learning direction through my comic books.
Do you have any advice for the current crop of aspiring artists and writers in India?
The only keyword is – Practice. Yes, be passionate for your work. I am so passionate about my profession. Do hard work. It’s universal … “Practice Makes man or woman Perfect”. This is what I teach to all my students whether Indian or International ones.
Would you like to say anything to your fans?
They are the actual Dheeraj Verma!! I love them a lot, I always interact with them. If anybody asks me any question I always reply. I always want to meet them all! Not even in India, also in USA … I always get an overwhelming response by my fans. They love me and love my work.
“I love you all.”