Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Obliterary Journal Vol. 2 : Where is my Cheeseburger?

Blaft’s Obliterary Journal is back! And much like the thunderous first volume, the new issue is full of colorful stories, comic books, and strong advice against meat-eating as an added bonus. I was so moved by the brutal facts of the meat industry that I finished half the book sitting at a KFC.

On a serious note, I loved some of the pieces here for the diverse flavor they bring to the table, and you constantly keep murmuring ‘so much talent!’ as you go through the book. I wish there were more comic book pieces here, with the conventional panels and speech bubbles youknow, but I still celebrate the anthology as it carries enough beef to satisfy your culinary and literary monsters.

Leg Piece by Durrrrk Mixer Grinder Serial No. 30277XM03
A hilarious ‘piece’ in the western genre, Quick Gun Murugan, if you want to draw an association closer to home. The chicken legpiece is a monk who abhors violence but due to the evil machinations of space idlis(marauding tiffin items) is compelled to conjure up the deadlykitchencookingspoonthing to end the threat of the overambitious idli-beings. The sequel to QGM, then called The Good, The Bad and The IDLY never got made, but this would be a great scene in it.
After finishing the idlis and making Molaga Podi’s of them, our lone ranger legpiece meets his elusive destination in the desolate wilderness, something as rare as an idli encounter in the outback- a single, brave bookstore! Durrrrrk never disappoints....

The Past and Future History of The Emu by Aneesh K.R.
The authenticity of The Coromandel Avian Taxonomy Research Institute aside, this is a earth-shattering piece, quite literally. I have had my share of disgust with the notorious Emu restaurant so could relate to the story. We begin from prehistoric(where else!) times and trace the fowl(!) practices of Emu farming, and how it has affected normal peoples and film stars(not normal peoples) associated with the dream, and the leap to the future is so real you never know when the facts give way to the surreal. There is some great art here, all hand-drawn/painted, which provides a nice contrast to the cheeky albeit straight-faced narrative.

U.G. Goes to K-Mart by Nicholas C. Grey and James Farley(excerpt from This Dog Barking)
Philosophy at the supermarket, UG style. These pages in particular show his ‘free your mind’ beliefs on vegetarianism, and eventually how the human body doesn't care whether you eat sawdust or gourmet food.
This is One Chicken/This is One Goat by Somdutt Sarkar
Photo art project/installation piece shows how the numbers add up exponentially when you consider the non-veg food market, hence bringing out the brutal maths of the trade.
Mouse Pickle by Nazeer Akbarabadi, B. Anitha & Anil Kumar, Michelle Farooqi and Musharraf Ali Farooqi
This is a painstakingly put together translation of an Urdu book, that portrays the perils of meat, through allegory of a worldfamous mouse pickle...

 Jamalpur by Tarun Padmakumar
This piece lightens the mood through the fun night out at a dhaba in what I am guessing is Jamalpur. A group of friends attack all the weird and unhealthy sounding non-veg food in the world, overcoming their inhibitions and laugh it off as they burp and gorge on bheja fry and liver fry.

Nochikuppam Fisherwomen Comics by Ratzzz and X. Kumar
The cover reads - Short interviews with hot sweaty foulmouthed hardworking totally badass ladies! A hilarious photo-comic(much like the one on auto drivers in TOJ-Vol 1) which portrays the adventures of fisherwomen on Chennai beaches.

The Hunters/The Prey by Appupen
First one is a quintessential Appupen tale of what looks like 3 halloween pumpkins chasing a sky-fairy/angel. Once they get exhausted and are about to give up, you see the real picture.
The Prey is funnier, and nicely packs a punch where a hunter is hunting for something less beastly this time...

How To Make a Bitch Give Up Beef by Meena Kandasamy and Samita Chatterjee
This a strong statement in a art project which combines digital art and poetry, bringing out the double standards of our society with relation to the beef propaganda, where it follows Gandhian philosophies on one hand and discriminates against any strong voices that may shake their puritan beliefs. Loved the satirical art and the intensity of the piece. This is a good, provocative, issue-based work of art.

Green Butterfly by Aarti Sunder
This comic looks at cannibalism and food chain at a microscopic level, where a famly of butterflies feast on a suicidal worm. Trippy stuff, and some nice art too. 

The Legend of U Thlen by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih and Aratrika Choudhury
I loved this folk-tale/comic for its simplicity of narrative and expressive art. Based on a Khasi Tale, it narrates how the folklore of a serpent monster came to be. This is sheer fun storytelling, much in the vein of Blaft’s own earlier folk translations, and involves cannibalism, transformation of culinary habits of one region into a custom. I was reminded of the tales that my mother used to tell us during Hindu festivals.

The Stepson’s Meat is in The Kitchen by Dukhushyam Chitrkar and Megha Bhaduri
Another folk tale translation, but this does not pack much punch as the earlier one. Nice art though.

Butcher Butcher: Lahore by Ali Sultan
Photo project of butchers in the streets of Lahore.

Livestock by Madhurya Balan
Nice to see another comic book piece, with panels that is. In this story, animals have taken over the world, and you see them going about their personal and professional lives, the only difference is that they give out parts of their body very often to be used as meat. I liked the starkness of the narrative.

Food Chained by Sathyanarain Muralidharan and Mihir Ranganathan
A small comic about what looks like Mars and humans are kept in captivity amidst a human meat market.

Be A Man by Won-Tolla
Interesting campaign poster style piece by Won-Tolla, a satirical piece on the act of killing a chicken.

They Came From The Stars by Gurjot S. Mamik
I thoroughly enjoyed this piece purely because of its art and geekiness, the colors are so pretty and the fonts are what you get in any good Fantagraphics, Top Shelf or Drawn and Quarterly indie comic. The story features aliens in what appears a pink universe, the aliens conquer a distant planet inhabited by the hunters of the Gozalu tribe, with their advanced technology and knowledge. I loved the reference to ‘culture’! The Gozalus get renamed to Bhagyavayus and change their lifestyles to live in grasslands. Some illegal(deemed so by the federation) DNA tests later, the planet is a wreck, and spirituality or what is interpreted of it reigns supreme…

On Making Wet Food For Your Growing Kitten by Prabha Mallya
A Manta Ray piece by Prabha Mallya, this one is a funny take on your average mall shopper- Mincho Mondal, taking pleasure in the meat section, and his erratic neighbors include a pure-vegetarian woman and a pair of conjoined twins who cultivate mushrooms. The story becomes more adventurous whatwith an overgrowing cat and the society’s love-hate relationship with beef…

Cover by Prabha Mallya
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