Comics for the Hard Headed

Although we take the title of this post from a Sarai publication this year, this is really about a number of Indian graphic novels prompted by a story that appeared in today's Brunch...

The graphic novel is far from having come of age in India, but still, we think that the genre is cool... and we should have more experimentation along these lines.

Orijit Sen of People Tree wrote/drew/composed River of Stories in 1994. Although it is no longer available, this novel was "Loosely based on the Narmada River Valley Projects controversy, and woven around the creation myths of the Apatani and Bhilala peoples, this is a story of a river, its people, and schemes to tame them under an alien notion of ‘development’. It is a composite of comic book and text format."

More recently, writer/artist Sarnath Banerjee and Anindya Roy set up Phantomville, a publishing house that provides a platform for Indian writers and artists to produce mature graphic novels. Sarnath has two novels out in this format, Corridor that was produced as part of his Sarai Independent Fellowship in 2002 and The Barn Owl's Wondrous Capers, both from Penguin.

Phantomville has produced Kashmir Pending written by Srinagar-based Naseer Ahmed which tells the story of several characters in Kashmir and deals with strife in the region, and The Believers by Abdul Sultan with illustrations by Partha Sengupta.

With its Dick Tracy-esque graphics and a salute to the Moore and Gibbons storytelling style (or is that just my hyperactive imagination??) Tejas Modak's Private Eye Anonymous already looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship... while the dark and sensuously illustrated Kari by Amruta Patil is "livened by wry commentaries on life and love".