Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Reading through the 12 stories, I was surprised with some while some left me rather cold. I would say it is certainly an effort worth spending an odd Rs 700 for, as the stage it offers to independent creators gives us hope for these individual stories turning into full-fledged books/graphic novels of their own.
Here are my thoughts about the stories:
Tattoo: More of a small installation project, this is a good starting point for the compilation. A tattoo parlor that becomes an extrapolation of structures, is a smart satire on pop culture itself.
Plasmoids: This tongue-in-cheek personal take on sci-fi lightens the heavy uncleji mood that most of the stories suffer from, but gets over a little too soon. A few more pages and a longer finale would certainly benefit the pulp reader.
The Pink: A good idea(corporate satire on businessman types) stretched too far.
RSVP: Oversmart in a good way, bourgeois satire that has an oft conflicting tone. Could do with more humor, but a fine distinctive piece nonetheless.
Print Screen: Great slice of life work, something you don't often see in Indian comics. The story, much like the self-doubting protagonist, doesn't really take off anywhere, but it's a good thing at times.
Hindus & Offal: This is a wildly drawn theoretical gyaan session on Offal food and its etymological and sociological connections. Gets a bit too... theoretical at times but has some great art for keeps.
Sleepscapes: Reminded me of the Bizarroworld comic strip. I liked Parismita's book The hotel at the end of the world, and this one is good stuff too, with a single recurring image of a man carrying a dead body amidst paranoid visions of war in Delhi suburbia, a giant TV screen and indifference, by the gallons.
The Afterlife of Ammi's Betelnut Box: This is a highly nostalgic take on old havelis, and how a central female character forms the spine of the rather confusing and global family tree. It does have some laughs in the beginning but gets rather meloncholic as it progresses. Some great art here, the story and the narration reminded me of Sardari Beghum and a play I saw long back(Khatijabai of Karmali Terrace).
Helmetman in Zamzamabad: This is a reprinting of the project known as 'Raj Comics for the Hard headed'. Having enjoyed the pulpy Raj Comics through the ages, I wouldn't really bargain it for any other version, but this is good stuff. A fast read, well drawn and some interesting concepts that come and go. Left me asking for more.
Tito Years: Sarnath Bannerjee as his usual cheap-thrillery. Low on the sexual references than his previous works though.
Hair Burns like Grass: A philosophy-heavy piece on Kabir.
Chilka: I was rather disappointed with this one, having enjoyed the same team's Mice will be Mice. May be they will do better without a mythological connection.
An image I bumped into while searching for Pao. Long live, Google!
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
The Boys are back. After a little self-doubting first season, CBM returns with its set of comic book pawn deals, doses of trivia and general geek-gasms.
I liked a first episode (Stash Bashes) but it had way too many kids to spoil my fun. I don't particularly enjoy the sight of a bunch of unruly kids having a go at racks of vintage comic books. The good parts of the episode were a deal of Megos and everyone losing their shit on a Legion of Super Heroes geektalk. Any attention that the LOSH get is good, I feel they deserve all that and more.
And then there was the giant Darth Vader helmet. You couldn't possibly not like that.
Coming to Episode 2, My Big Fat Geek Wedding, this was pure fun! Lots of fun tales, a smooth flow of deals, and a hilarious finale. These guys are getting better at their game. The jokes flow freely now, the deals look neat and swift and the comic book portions are satisfying. Though there was no specific geek-out this time on a classic comic book per se except for a little Punisher talk, the nod to FF at the end was more than a twinkle in the eye moment, and the details(X Men #1 turned into wedding flowers, Legion flight ring etc) was the stuff only these guys could manage. And yeah, Don't Mix Cigars & Comic Books!
I already can't wait enough for the Stan Lee appearance. Great going, Stash!
Friday, September 21, 2012
I was pulled to this 2008 graphic novel from Amruta Patil after reading her story Atlantis in The Blaft Obliterary Journal. I liked the honesty of Patil's narration and her strong characterization. I was not disappointed as Kari is quite satisfying on multiple levels. It works as a strongly woven tale of a fish in an ocean of urban milieu.
The sexually-pronounced and assertive protagonist can be paralleled against any contemporary artists or writers. Few that came to my mind were Alison Bechdel, Erika Moen, Marjane Satrapi, Kuzhali Manickavel and Sharanya Manivannan. Patil's style is distinctive in its tonal confidence and ability to say the same thing in a loop with remarkable grip. She maintains an equal balance between Kari's mundane life as an advertising copyhead as well as her sexual adventures in realms of magic realism, and switches between the parallel worlds with utmost ease of a seasoned hand.
Kari boasts of strong, realistic characters, every mannerism detailed and conflicts exploited to create a story and world which is rich, almost TV soap-like in its interactions, yet poignant and provocative in its abstract excursions(allusions to an underground sewer and Kari's life as a boatman learning to "row clean through the darkest water").The book goes through portions great, average and repetitive, but told with a consistent honesty.
Patil uses diverse medium/art to evoke feelings of imagination, confrontation and oblique satire of the civilized society. The sections at Kari's workplace give way to some hilarious situations which are told in a solemn, deadpan style. Few sequences that come to my mind are when Kari pulls out thoughts from her sub-conscious to advertising pitches which surprisingly win her deal over deal and recognition from all and sundry.
Great book which tells a sometime depressing if black tale of urban life with its share of sexual existence issues, isolation, angst, guilt and threads from memories that just wouldn't go. Kari is a solid debut by Patil, and though I am criminally late in this review, I hope to make up for it by catching up on her future release, Adi Parva on time.
Interview with Paul Gravett
Monday, September 17, 2012
The Obliterary Journal(Part I) by Blaft is a welcome addition to the little less ordinary publishing house’ well, convention-obliterating repertoire. I have been a fan of Blaft books since I laid my hands on the then-revolutionary Tamil Pulp Fiction Anthology Part I.
Those were the days of Quick Gun Murugan, bad books and free-flowing alcohol, not in any necessary order, and Blaft was the new kid in town, the proverbial ray of hope that would transform the world as we know it. As fate would have it, alcohol started damaging kidneys(of no particular gender, religion or political belief), Quick Gun disappeared from theaters before you could say Mind It!, and Blaft, among other things, released a smaller version of Tamil Pulp Fiction hiding beneath rows of emo-blood-sucking-teen vampires and self-consciously-conscious-IT-type-urban-indian-fellows.
Alcohol sales dropped but the flame of revolution did keep burning, thanks to landmark books from Blaft that shook translated fiction and its abusive cousins to no end – Zero Degree, Where are you going, you monkeys!, Insects are like you and me except some of them have wings, Ibne Safi Series, Surender Mohan Pathak’s 65 Lakh Robbery and Day Light Robbery. I was away from Blaft books after I left the Ibne Safi series midway and never could pick up again somehow. You know, just like that.
Now, The Obliterary Journal brings back happier times, in lush color and youthful fountains. It fits in perfectly with these graphic-friendly times. Excerpts and one-shots, “art projects”, Rajini-friendly autodrivers, depressing old-age home residents, forgotten aliens all enthuse and abuse your sensory perception of the world in this oddly-graphic novel.
I flipped through some pages faster than others, and it had nothing to do with my racial prejudices or contempt of growing old. Loved the urban satire by Amruta Patil, an old Bengali detective pulp, and dystopian science fiction-weird mythology smatterings. Again, nothing to do with my apolitical leanings.
Pick up this book, you must, for sake of your kidneys. No, seriously, in pure unbiased recommendation, TOJ is made for your shelf, put it between a vintage Thomas Hardy and MAD.
Interview at NH7
|Mug Shot - This is what you get for plugging Blaft books|
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Mice Will Be Mice is a self-published/creator owned one shot comic created by Shoei Emura(cool name #1) & Vidyun Sabhaney(cool name #2). I picked it up at the Blaft stall at the recently held Bangalore edition of Comic Con India. There was something about the cover and the hint of sarcasm that appealed to me.
I was pleasantly surprised by the art and the energy of the comic, there is some great thoughts at work here, a literal lab-rat undergoes a monstrous transformation and wreaks havoc on the unsuspecting city only to meet a hilarious climax. I remembered Rat Bastard but our lab-rat had other fate awaiting him. The book is pleasantly giant-sized(monster reference #3) which makes it scream "pick me up"!
I liked the perspective/zoom-in shots on the first page. There is some cool satire going on on the cruelties of human race leading to its own demise.
I would to see a longer version for this but this is quite a little visual beast. I should be getting to more of the creators'works in Blaft's Obliterary Journal and The Pao Collective's Anthology Part I(Chilka).
More power to indie comics!