The Virgin Comics panel held at the 2008 New York Comic-Con held a surprise in the form of writer Grant Morrison ("All Star Superman," "Final Crisis"). He appeared to talk about his new project with Virgin Comics, along with film director Shekhar Kapur ("Elizabeth" and a comic writer for Virgin) and Sharad Devarajan (CEO of Virgin Comics).
Devarajan began with an explanation for the presence of Grant Morrison, who wasn't initially listed on the con's program.
"We have been looking for a way to work with Grant Morrison for some time, and I am happy to announce that we will be working with him on an animated online short series inspired by the greatest books in India, the Mahabarata."
For those who don't know, the Mahabarata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. With more than 74,000 verses, long prose passages, and about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahabarata is one of the longest epic poems in the world.
Grant Morrison and Shekhar Kapur talk about Virgin's new webisodes program
Kapur summarized it thusly. "As a child, I was introduced to the Mahabarata. But when I saw how long it was, I said, 'I'm not going to read that.' However, there are books about the little Krishna, which I liked and were easier to read. Plus, he's mischievous and fun."
Once Kapur finally got to looking at the Mahabarata though, he was hooked. "It tells the tale of five brothers against a hundred brothers. It's simply fascinating."
"The book also talks about this weapon…it said if you take the smallest particle possible and explode it in such a fire that it would engulf the entire planet - how did they know about the atomic bomb back then?"
Morrison said that the Mahabarata is essentially "a story about war," although the author doesn't plan to do a direct translation. "Like the Beatles took Indian music and tried to make psychedelic sounds…I'm trying to convert Indian storytelling to a western style for people raised on movies, comics, and video games."
Virgin Comics' CEO, Sharad Devarajan
For that reason, the style of animation they are using for these web shorts is appropriate. Devarajan said that the shorts will utilize 3D Motion Capture for the animation. He described it as "almost a video game-type look."
The elements Morrison is changing will also contribute to this feel as well. The story will take place in a futuristic world of its own. The characters - while similar - will not be the exact same characters as the book.
Kapur loves the fact that this story can be told through a different worldview. He believes more stories could and should be done this way. As he explained, "I am an Indian filmmaker who told the story of one of the greatest queens of England, and I'm excited to hear this Indian tale told from a point of view of a man from Glasgow like Grant."
The director also confessed, "I hope Grant will one day let me direct a story that he writes."
And if anyone has any doubts about stories told through differing perspectives, Morrison added, "What are comic book superheroes but the Greek gods told through a western perspective?"
Devarajan ended the panel by saying that they hope to have the first short ready by this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego.