Category Archives: Graphic Novel

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.

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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.

Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá

daytripper-by-fabio-moon-and-gabriel-ba Title: Daytripper
Author: Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá
Publisher: Vertigo
ISBN: 978-1401229696
Genre: Graphic Novels
Pages: 256
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

There are graphic novels that are those which you read and forget after a couple of months, till you go back to them. Then there are those which you read and you don’t need going back to them – because they never left you. “Daytripper” by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá is one such graphic novel. I could go on, and praise it eloquent but that’s not the point of this review (well it is to some extent). The point is that very few novels or graphic novels change you or move you and this is one of them.

“Daytripper” is one of those graphic novels that could have gotten preachy but did not. It could have also gotten sentimental and quite overwhelming but it does not. It is tender and brutal at the same time – and doesn’t lose the overall plot. Maybe because it hits home so bad and so hard that you also want to just take off – for a month or two and ask yourself this one basic, simple and haunting question: How do you plan to spend the rest of your days?

This question is the essence of this book – well at least, according to me. The book tells the story of Brás de Oliva Domingos and does so in a fractured, disjointed fashion. Time bends, narratives are scattered, nothing is what it seems and we meet Brás at various major events of his life – we meet him first when he is thirty-two and going to see his father, a famous novelist receive a lifetime achievement award. We then meet him when he is twenty-one and seeking the world. We encounter him when he is eleven and then at forty something and then at seventy six – you get the drift I suppose. I must also add here that the protagonist is an obituary writer. The obits, his life, and different times that the reader is exposed to or given a peek into are brilliantly conjured and written.

What is this book about you might ask? It is a book of missed opportunities, of second chances, of life taking its own course and you having no control over it – that’s what it is about. The Brazilian twins have done a fantastic job of storytelling and pushing the story forward, and connecting all pieces, which is imperative in a graphic novel of such magnitude. I love this book beyond love I think. It encompasses every emotion – love, friendship, envy, gratitude, heartbreak, loss and above all to look inside you and actually figure out what is it all about after all.

“Daytripper” is one of those graphic novels that make you sit back and question all of it – at least in my case and that is what a good book should do. I would strongly urge everyone to go out there, pick up this brilliant graphic novel, read it, be immersed, be overwhelmed and feel the irresistible need to go and discuss it with anyone else who has read it.

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The Trouble with Women by Jacky Fleming

The Trouble with Women by Jacky Fleming Title: The Trouble with Women
Author: Jacky Fleming
Publisher: Square Peg, Penguin Random House
ISBN: 978-1910931097
Genre: Graphic novel, Commentary
Pages: 128
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

There are funny graphic novels that try too hard to be funny and then there are those that evoke a laugh or a guffaw from you at every turn of the page. “The Trouble with Women” by Jacky Fleming belongs to the second category of funny graphic novels. “The Trouble with Women” is a tongue-in-cheek graphic novel and you guessed it right, it is all about what is wrong with women – or so how the men see women – right from the good old times to the modern age – it is just the patriarchal system that calls the shots. The book is about how women throughout history have been confined only to the life of domesticity and nothing else – well at least most women.

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Jacky looks at it in a humorous way but of course – the issues are seething and real and are brought to fore nonetheless. From people like Freud to Darwin who thought women were not of much use, Fleming gives you several pointers to think about and actually what it boils down to sadly is that things haven’t changed all that much from those times. Women still have to struggle just as much and things need to change and it can only be brought about when people begin to come together and have a conversation.

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I have never understood arm-chair activism. It may seem like it is a start but honestly to me it doesn’t go anywhere at all. At the same time, this book “The Trouble with Women” will draw out exactly what women have been struggling against (albeit in a funny way) and give everyone, both women and men, the much needed perspective and for people to stay on track when it comes to issues.

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Jacky Fleming’s book is funny and introspective. It is also cheeky, bold and every mother, sister, friend, daughter and woman out there should read it. While they are at it, the men also must read it. Change their perspective, perhaps.