Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pao: The Anthology of Comics 1

I had been wanting to get to Pao ever since I heard about the initiative and the people behind it, which is basically the whole modern Indian comic-generating intelligentsia/janta, except the superhero-variety.

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!

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