Leaping Windows: Mumbai's first comic book library

Leaping Windows: Mumbai's first comic book library

This 'novel' business idea, conceived by three comic book enthusiasts is Mumbai’s first dedicated graphic novel, comic book and manga library
Leaping Windows
The original. Classic "Amar Chitra Katha" comics from the Leaping Windows' collection.

Leaping Windows is a library for comics, graphic novels and manga in Mumbai. With a delivery boy wearing a cape for a logo, they are the first dedicated providers of this service in the city. This neat niche business lends comics out because they say it's more affordable than buying the book, and encourages people to read and experiment more.

We chat with two of the three founders of Leaping Windows, ultra cool librarians Bidisha Basu and Utsa Shom, about their project and also their work aimed at setting up a community and a social networking website to create a forum for fellow comic lovers to commune and blog, which they hope will facilitate the growth of graphic art appreciation and production.

CNNGo: Where did the name Leaping Windows come from?

Basu: The reason behind it is going to sound very stupid. The little brother of a friend mine stood on the bathroom window with a towel tied around his neck like a cape and then he jumped. Luckily it was the first floor! I just appreciated his imagination and it inspired the name Leaping Windows.

Utsa Shom: It also applies to actually reading a comic where one drawing is separated from another like a frame or a window. Reading them involves leaping from one window to the next.

CNNGo: How big is the comic book scene in Mumbai?

Basu: I wish we could give you a clear answer. I think among big cities in India there is a reasonable following. Channels like Animax, video games and super hero movies have popularized the genre. So I would say there is a sub section of people in their 20s and 30s who are into graphic novels but it still remains a niche market. 

Shom: I recently read that the highest number of comic book readers is in Chandigarh, but they read mostly regional comics.

CNNGo: What is the most exciting graphic novel you have read from India?

Basu: "Kari" by Amruta Patil.

Shom: "Moonward" by Appupen, it is fantasy.

CNNGo: If you could choose one character or personality in Mumbai that you would like to see represented in a graphic novel or comic who would that be?

Basu: I would love to see one about an actor who comes to the city to make it in the movies and goes from one audition to another everyday, regardless of how often they fail. It might seem pathetic but actually I think it can be quite funny, with some action and adventure thrown in.

Shom: I think something with a mixture of regional politics and the journey of person with humble origins who comes to Mumbai, as many people do, to make their mark. But in Mumbai you gain fame and then you lose it because there is always someone who will run the race faster than you. I would like to see a figure like this, exploring their journey, the ups and downs. 

Basu: There are so many stories that can come out of India, there is so much that has not been attempted yet. Graphic novelists today have many options to do something new because the industry is budding. It is a good time to be a graphic novelist in India.

CNNGo: What public Indian figure do you think would make a terrible super hero?

Shom: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Basu: Yeah, only because it would be boring.

CNNGo: Maybe he has a magic turban?

Basu: (laughs) That would be funny.

CNNGo: What does Leaping Windows offer its members in terms of variety?

Basu: We have a collection of over 2,000 graphic novels, comic books and manga and we are constantly building our library. A lot of the books we keep are hard to find elsewhere especially Japanese comics and manga. We also order a lot of independently published graphic novels and ones from small publishing houses which are expensive and hard to find. We will also order books based on peoples' requests.

We also have a good collection of classic Indian comics like "Amar Chitra Katha" and other comic book series which are also mythological, but the illustrations are more Western, so you have the deity Hanuman with a six-pack!

CNNGo: And characteristic of Mumbai, you deliver the comics?

Basu: Yes, you can order up to two comics from our online catalogue and we deliver anywhere in Mumbai within 24 hours.

CNNGo: Does the delivery boy wear a cape, as in your logo?

Basu: No, but we are thinking about giving him one!

Leaping Windows will be launching their online catalogue in May. For more information on their library and memberships join the Leaping Windows group on Facebook.