| Superman comics, old or pirated, can be found at the Free School Street book stalls. Picture by Amit Datta
He's back on the city big screen after 19 years but it's been more than three months since Superman went missing in town from his original home ' the comic book racks. The remarkable flight of Superman Returns has not coincided with the superhero's DC Comics books soaring in city stores, simply because there is demand but no supply.
'After months of irregular supply, the comic books have just stopped coming,' rues Gautam Jatia of Landmark. 'The arrangement between the US-based publisher and Bangalore-based Gotham Comics has fallen through and till a new Indian agency is appointed, we can't get fresh supply. We did get some books from a Mumbai dealer, who had been stocking the comics, but that has dried up too. So, we are not being able to respond to the growing demand for Superman comic books ever since the film released on June 30.'
The Brandon Routh film is not totally derived from the comic pages but the screenplay was written with the approval of DC Comics. So, all the deviations that director Bryan Singer brought about in Superman Returns have been cleared by DC Comics and will also be incorporated in the comic book pages sooner or later.
Enough reason to clamour for the comics, only to be denied. 'Unless you try the Free School Street bookshops,' offers Sidharth Pansari from Crossword. 'They may be having some pirated versions of the comic, apart from old issues.'
Far from the plexes and posh racks, the hole-in-the-wall Free School Street store isn't exactly soaring on Superman's shoulders, but is definitely witnessing a return to the superhero.
'Copies of The Adventures of Superman and Dead Again! are doing well,' says the sales manager of Mullick Book House.
The adjacent Modern Book House is far less enthused: 'Thanks to the Crosswords and the Landmarks, most of the kids today do not even know that good old comics can be found on Free School Street. But those who know are coming in for old Superman comics.'
The comics crisis hasn't in any way crippled the ticket counter, though. 'Despite the presence of Krrish, Superman Returns has taken a better opening than The Da Vinci Code or even Harry Potter IV,' says Bengal distributor Kushagra Jalan.
'The first week collections have been 89 per cent at Forum and 80 per cent at City Centre,' reveals a spokesperson for INOX, screening five shows a day at each hall in Week 2.