Imagine walking into a basement full of zombies and vampires. Scared? Don’t be. It’s just Comic Con India. The first day of the comic fest’s fourth edition, in New Delhi, saw fans showing up dressed as their favourite fictional characters.

Entry charges, introduced for the first time, were not a deterrent as people flocked to the basement of the Thyagaraj stadium.

“Anyone who is a part of this world can come and have a good time,” said Sanjali, a student, who was turned out as Wonder Woman.

While visitors were busy buying T-shirts, comics, limited-edition collectibles, Indian and foreign illustrators were happily providing autographs to enthusiastic fans.

“Comic Con is a great platform to meet fans who otherwise know us as just a byline in a comic book,” said Abhijeet Kini, a popular Mumbai-based illustrator and creator of the Angry Maushi comic. “We get a lot of feedback and that is the most important thing for an artist.”

The market, though unorganised, is growing by leaps and bounds. “The size of the comic-book market (Indian publishers) is between ₹30 crore and ₹50 crore. But, this is just an estimate as it is highly unorganised. Only about 10 players, such as Amar Chitra Katha, Chariot Comics, Campfire, Holy Cow and Pop Culture, publish on a consistent basis,” said Comic Con India Founder Jatin Varma.

Small independent publishers bring out titles on and off. The highest volumes are garnered by Amar Chitra Katha because of their low price points, Varma added.

Merchandise, too, is a major draw at the convention. “The value of figurines can go from ₹1,000 (for tiny action figures) to ₹50,000,” said Varma.

One aficionado bought limited-edition comics worth ₹85,000 from Marvel Comics.

Most of the clientele for collectibles is made up of 40-plus people who are big fans and can afford these high prices, said Varma.

Bharat, Sales Director at Lazy Ninja, a merchandiser, said: “People who come to Comic Con also go to our Web site and buy later.”

“We started with one stall in the first Comic Con and this year we have three,” said Karan Rai, Partner at online merchandise player Planet Superheroes. “The Indian merchandise market, though small, is growing at an extremely fast pace. Although the fan community is not as big as in the US, I believe we will get there in a few years.”