Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Do NOT Open This Comic! An Indian Horror Anthology

A Horror anthology in comic books is not a normal occurrence, so it becomes even rarer if it happens in India. Being a fan of horror as a genre, I kicked myself for not hearing about it earlier and immediately got my copy. The cover artwork by Devaki Neogi is great, the B&W tones and the Creep New Roman font lend a nice eeriness to the mood. Another achievement here is smart editing which lends a coherent look to all the stories, as if they were written specifically for this anthology and were not standalone pieces.  On to the stories now…

The Call by Ashwin Kalmane & Pia Alize Hazarika
A moody, wordless story of hieroglyphics travelling from the habitable land to ...(won't spoil it). Some great water-color-y artwork here, and the B&W just so complements the juxtaposition of the mundane with the supernatural. Great opening piece.

Rickshaw Raj by Sudeep Menon & Ghanshyam Bochgeri
A werewolf story told with a touch of realism and humor, I love how Sudeep Menon always makes the stories and dialogs closer to home, yet makes them highly engaging and entertaining.

Hazard Pay by Ashwin Kalmane & Charbak Dipta
This one requires a couple of readings, to understand the layers of horror and ghastliness of one human being against the other. Elements of body horror and abject neglect of human rights collide in this moving story of a firework factory employing kids.

Behind Closed Doors by Ram V & Nitin Veturkar
A story built on the ‘don’t open the door’ premise, that demands you to do the thinking and appreciate the mood brought in here through sometimes expressive sometimes hazy panels, with a nice Nietzsche reference thrown in too.

Vermin by Sudeep Menon & Vinay Brahmania
A nice breather and action-oriented short, this one portrays the workmanlike horror with a rat as a central cause of disturbance and destruction in the life of a comic-book artist(!) who is already haunted by non-paying clients. Personally, give me the rat anyday!

Man Walks into a Bar by Ashwin Kalmane & Arun Kumar Kaushik
Sell your soul to the devil stuff here mixed with the angst of a daily job, all happening in a bar standing on the gates of hell and redemption. I didn't quite like this story but loved the dialog, which was more funny than frightening, but then I have always loved RGV’s horror-comedy films. 

The Masterpiece by Sudeep Menon & Shishir C Naik
Another transformative horror wordless piece, this one nicely concludes the anthology with expressive artwork and a twist towards the end of the classic human subject theme.

The book also has a nice insight into the making of all the stories at the end, which gives a unique touch and a greater sense of satisfaction to the reader. I would love to see the alternative/variant covers designed for the book, the sketches of which are given towards the end. Get this horror anthology!

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