Category Archives: Graphic Novel

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Title: Ghost World
Author: Daniel Clowes
Publisher: Jonathan Cape, Random House
ISBN: 978-0224060882
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 80
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

If I remember clearly, “Ghost World” was my introduction to graphic novels and at that time I found it very strange – it is barely 80 pages long and yet manages to convey teen angst with such accuracy that my head spun. It was published in 1997 and I remember a friend gifting it to me in 2000. More so, what was or rather is unique about it is that it is in only two colours – green and blue and to me that still is fascinating – even when I reread it now.

“Ghost World” as most aficionados know is also a movie starring Thora Birch and Scarlet Johansson. Now that that is out of the way, the book is about two teens – Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer – who are most cynical, pseudo-intellectual and recently graduated from high school. They encounter people and wonder what life has in store for them – they live dry and dull lives in an unnamed small-town and want to perhaps step out and discover the world.

This graphic novel is dark and yet does not lose its humour. I loved the writing – it is razor-sharp and doesn’t lose its capacity for nostalgia. Clowes characters remind you of the most ordinary people you might come across in daily life and perhaps ignore in a split of a second. “Ghost World” is also a lonely book – of two girls who are either trying desperately hard to fit in or just living life as it passes them by. Clowes has this uncanny sense of the society we live in – that demands appearances be kept up and yet you have these two teenagers who don’t want to keep up and are loud, edgy, and refuse to submit or conform. A book that needs to be devoured in every sense of the word.

Wilson by Daniel Clowes

wilson-by-daniel-clowes Title: Wilson
Author: Daniel Clowes
Publisher: Jonathan Cape, Random House
ISBN: 978-0224090612
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comic Strip
Pages: 80
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Wilson is a strange character. I have never encountered someone like Wilson in graphic novels. He is not a happy person and he doesn’t like people. He is a sociopath. He is a loser. He is also not a romantic. He loves his dog. He doesn’t care about his ex-wife (or maybe he does) or for his daughter (maybe he does). All said and done, Wilson isn’t the sort of man you’d hang out with.

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“Wilson” by Daniel Clowes is told in the form of cartoon strips. It is spread over 80 pages in this format and is a delight to read, with every turn of the page. He is an introvert and also an extrovert – basically confused which most of us really are, so it is okay. Daniel Clowes focuses on the ups and downs of one person’s life and surprisingly, there are portions you can very well relate to. My grumpiness for example – I could totally understand when Wilson was not being so nice (which is almost all the time in the book) and that kinda overwhelmed me.

Wilson might also be about the mundane and about loneliness and how each of us deals with it. The pages compliment Wilson’s mood – the colours, sometimes the fonts and the attitude as well. Wilson is a bastard and you can see that – but he has more shades to him than just black and white and that is what makes this graphic novel super interesting. His interactions with others are most unique and funny.

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I would highly recommend everyone to read “Wilson” only because it is so bizarre and so satisfying at the same time. It might also make you contemplate a lot about your life, so be cautious about that. Make it a holiday read. You will not be disappointed for sure.

Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon and Mu by Junji Ito

junji-itos-cat-diary-yon-and-mu-by-junji-ito Title: Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon and Mu
Author: Junji Ito
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
ISBN: 978-1632361974
Genre: Graphic Novel, Manga
Pages: 120
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Another cat book this month, another cat graphic novel and that too a manga which I adored to bits. I was browsing Amazon and chanced on this graphic novel and was elated on discovering it. After all, it is a real story and it is a real story about two cats, Yon and Mu and how they came to be Junji Ito’s cats – the one who did not like cats to begin with.

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I have always considered myself to be a dog person and not a cat person at all. Till cats entered my life and now life is no longer the same. I could so relate to the book as I went along and even though I knew it was a Manga and it would end soon, I just didn’t want it to end.

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The book is about Ito’s experiences with not one but two cats and how his life is never the same. Cats are not like Dogs and they never will be. They do what they must and when they must. They will never listen to you, no matter how hard you try and all you want to do then do is love them. There is also a portion that will shock you and move you to tears (don’t worry, this is not a spoiler).

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Ito’s experiences with his cats are something else – he makes them seem larger than life of course given he is the horror hero of manga and translates that superlatively in this book as well. Cats can be full of horror if you don’t know them – Ito uses that angle to the book. The funny vignettes about his wife and the cats are heartwarming and beyond any mode of social media – Thank God for that! You need this book in your life if you love cats! That’s all there is to it.

Black Mumba by Ram V, Dev Pramanik, Rosh, Kishore Mohan and Aditya Bidikar

black-mumba-by-ram-v-dev-pramanik-rosh-kishore-mohan-and-aditya-bidikar Title: Black Mumba
Authors: Ram V, Dev Pramanik, Rosh, Kishore Mohan and Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Self-Published
ISBN: N/A
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 100
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 Stars

There are not too many Indian Graphic novels on the scene and even if there are, they aren’t very good. I had heard of “Black Mumba” from a friend at Doolally’s one day and it piqued my interest. I mean come on, it has brilliance all over it – Noir, Noir set in Bombay at that and a bunch of stories surrounding a bleak police inspector who wants to make a change for the better but doesn’t know how to.

The stories in this book are brilliantly devised, written and sketched. Might I also add that the lettering by Aditya Bidikar is lucid and clean. There is absence of light in the book and yet there is so much hope and consolation between these pages. Despite being a noir book, it does radiate some light at the end of the tunnel.

The stories by Ram V, Dev Pramanik, Rosh, and Kishore Mohan are something else. They are all told through the eyes of a police officer, Inspector Dev who is worn-out and done with what he does for a living. Each case shows us the bleak and oppressive side of the city, which is not something that we don’t already know, but you know there were times I was taken aback in the narrative. For instance in the story “Rats in the Dark” – the twist was too much to handle for me.

The greys in the stories are fascinating and menacing at the same time. I loved the character of Dev Shinde. I cannot wait for the second set of stories to be out. The graphics are simple and complex, given the scope of the stories. All in all, “Black Mumba” is for sure a must read. You can order it on the Holy Cow website.

Mooncop by Tom Gauld

mooncop-by-tom-gauld Title: Mooncop
Author: Tom Gauld
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1770462540
Genre: Graphic novel
Pages: 96
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

If you have to read one graphic novel this year (or of whatever year is left), I highly recommend you read “Mooncop” by Tom Gauld. It is a heartbreaking and extremely real graphic novel on loneliness and how we deal with it, even if it is on the moon.

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The year is unknown and pretty far-off into the future. Space has been colonized for mankind – a reach for the stars project, which is now a reality. There are people living on the moon and everything is the same – though it can get very boring and this happens to one of the lunar officers of the law. This colony on the moon is half-forgotten and no one cares about it, so much so that most people are on their way out. The cop is lonely and doesn’t have much to do. The book unfolds beautifully, of which I shall not speak more. It would then mean giving away the plot which I don’t want to.

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We are all lonely and we all try and make do with what we have, which is exactly what the nameless protagonist of this graphic novel does. The life lead is in a bubble, of oxygen-rich air and a metaphorical bubble of bureaucracy. Yet, there is this beauty in which Gauld communicates everything through his drawing and characters. There is humour and there is a lot of hope in it.

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In such a short graphic novel, Gauld says what he has to and that’s the beauty of the graphic form. You don’t need all that space or words to say what you have to. “Mooncop” is one of those rare graphic novels that you have to pick up right after you have finished reading it. It is heartwarming, nostalgic and a beautiful meditation on life and loneliness.