Tag Archives: Graphic Fiction

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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Book Review: PAO – The Anthology of Comics 1

Title: PAO – The Anthology of Comics 1
Publisher: Penguin India
ISBN: 978-0-143-41768-2
Genre: Graphic Fiction
Pages: 299
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Graphic Fiction is always a must-read. More so if it is based in your country. You somehow then can relate to everything it has to offer – from sarcasm to the country’s landscape to the nuances known only to another Indian. When you tell these stories through graphic fiction, it becomes even more interesting and that’s what PAO – The Anthology of Comics 1, published by Penguin India is all about.

There are all elements in these beautifully crafted 12 graphic stories by well-known illustrators and storytellers and some just surfacing on the scene. PAO is collaboration between graphic novelists Amitabh Kumar, Sarnath Banerjee, Orijit Sen, Vishwajyoti Ghosh and Parismita Singh. They have selected the 12 stories featured in this anthology and each one is stylistically distinct and unique from the other.

I remember waiting eagerly to read this one. I am a great lover of Graphic Fiction and have enjoyed Sarnath Banerjee and Amruta Patil’s (who surprisingly doesn’t feature here) works. Honestly these two were the only Indian Graphic novelists who came to my mind before reading this book. Today however, I know of a lot more comic fiction writers.

The collection starts off with a simple story and yet defining the way our society thinks and works today through “Tattoo” – cleverly written and illustrated by Jacob Weinstein and Lakshmi Indrasimhan. The second story is, “Plasmoids”, written by Samit Basu and illustrated beautifully by Orijit Sen, about alien life on earth and one of my personal favourites in the collection.

The idea of visual language is something which is picking up like none other form of communication, not only internationally but also in India. There is a lot going around in the world and maybe that is where from these storytellers get their ideas. For instance, “The Pink” by Salil Chaturvedi and Priya Kuriyan speaks of alienation in our society and what it means to be accepted when you are different or feel different. PAO centers on a lot of themes – from individuality to pre-liberalization India to religion to Hindus and Offal which is a sarcastic take on what we eat by Ambarish Satwik and Pia Alize Hazarika.

My most favourite story in the collection has to be, “Helmetman in Zamzamabad” by Raj Comics and Amitabh Kumar. It is reminiscent of a 70’s movie – thriller and drama rolled into one. It had everything that can make the story extend itself and it will. I am sure it will be a full-length graphic novel.

For me this collection would have been complete, had Amruta Patil been included but having said that, this collection is definitely a page-turner. It doesn’t take long to finish this book, considering the length of the stories and the fact that they are in graphic format. At the same time, the reader will probably re-read some of the stories (like I did) and ponder over them long after the book has been finished with. PAO is a first step to more anthologies like this one and it is time for us to be introduced to more intelligent and interesting graphic fiction.

You can buy the book from HomeShop18 here

Top 5 Graphic Memoirs

Comic books have become the brand new vehicle for autobiographies to be written. Readers also find it very easy to connect with them in the form of pictures and words, than just words. I have read them over the past couple of years and enjoyed this method of communication. Autobiographies can be quite heavy to read, so I guess this format works best, when you also want to lighten things and the writing.

So here are my top 5 comic autobiographies, so to say:

Maus by Art Spiegelman: Maus is the biography of Art’s father, Vladek and an autobiography of Art’s relationship with him. It is a book about his father’s account as a prisoner in Auschwitz during WWII. The book is beautifully designed and the graphics are brilliantly portrayed with the Nazis depicted as Cats and the Jews as Mice. Hence the title, Maus. Maus is a chilling and thought-provoking read. Something that will not leave you days after you have finished the book.

Maus is a two-part book. The complete edition can be purchased from HomeShop18 here

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: We have all watched the movie (most of us) and the so-called graphic novel is to die for. You should not go through life without reading this graphic memoir of identity, race, and one’s roots. The first volume of her autobiography is about when the Shah of Iran was deposed and the revolution was delivered, liberation at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists, with severe implications for the normal folk. The second volume is of her return and the country from her point of view. Brilliantly told in sparse and simple black and white drawings, this one will sure get a lump in your throat.

You can purchase The Complete Persepolis on HomeShop18 here

Palestine by Joe Sacco: I remember reading Palestine for the first time and being blown by it in so many ways – this was probably the first one of its kind book. Journalism and reporting had found a new voice – Graphic Representation. Joe Sacco has managed to portray the lives of the Palestinians in the most amazing way with graphics, through interviews and laced with facts. The sense of place and feeling is surreally portrayed throughout the book. A book that you must not miss out on.

You can buy Palestine on HomeShop18 here

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel: This is everything a biography could be in the form of a Graphic Novel. A daughter getting to know her gay father better after his death. At the same time, she is trying to deal with her sexuality issues and all of this is taking place in rural Pennsylvania. The book is about her fraught relationship with her father, as she discovers herself in the process. A read that maybe is not for all, but a great one nonetheless.

You can buy the book from HomeShop18 here

Stitches by David Small: Stitches is bold, brazen, and heartbreaking. It is about Small’s growing up years where his household was ever tense and people spoke in another language: that of breaking stuff and banging doors. It also tells the story of David, who wakes up one morning from a supposedly harmless operation to find out that he, is virtually mute. His parents did not inform him about his vocal cord being removed and the implications – emotional and artistic on his growing-up years. This book stayed with me for a very long time. I could not forget the stark and raw visuals. Read it if you can stomach the truth.

Stitches by David Small can be bought from HomeShop18 here

So these are my top 5 graphic memoirs. A brilliant place sometimes to start reading graphic novels.

Book Review: Scenes from an Impending Marriage: A Prenuptial Memoir by Adrian Tomine

Title: Scenes from an Impending Marriage: A Prenuptial Memoir
Author: Adrian Tomine
Publisher: Faber and Faber UK
ISBN: 978-0-571-27770-4
Genre: Graphic Fiction
Pages: 54
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I am a great fan of Adrian Tomine’s works. From Shortcomings to Optic Nerve (his graphic magazine so to say) to Summer Blonde, I have read most of his graphic fiction and I can say without doubt that he is very good at his craft. From the drawings to the story, nothing seems out of place for the reader. So it was a pleasant experience to read his very short graphic book, “Scenes from an Impending Marriage: A Prenuptial Memoir”, tracing the trials up to his wedding day.

The book is everything about planning a wedding and feeling strange and weird and exasperated about it. It is an account of the events leading to the wedding day as experienced by both – the bride and the bridegroom together. It is barely a 54-page book and can be read in 20 minutes. I could not relate to the book as of course I am not getting married anytime soon, however it is a great read even for the single ones.

I could not help but smile throughout the book. It is funny and emotional at the same time and you need that dose once in a while to make you smile. From the problem of who to invite to the DJ playlist to the caterers, wedding invitations and about the favour present (which coincidentally was the comic that lead to this book), this book almost covers all aspects of marriage, in a funny manner.

This book is nothing like his other works, which are more angst ridden and talk about the search for someone. It is about having found that someone and planning a wedding with her or him. I am not a laugh out loud person. I do not do that while watching a funny film or reading a funny book, however I did while reading this one. Read it on a nice rainy day. It is fun.

Here is a sample from the book:

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Was She Pretty? by Leanne Shapton


Title: Was She Pretty?
Author: Leanne Shapton
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780374299262
Price: $20.00
Genre: Graphic Fiction
Source: Author
Rating: 4/5

Have you ever been out with the person you’re seeing when you run into someone who they know, but seem not to want to introduce you to? When you ask later, they’ll say, “Oh, that was just a friend.” In your mind you’ll conjure up all manner of sordid details about their past association because, obviously, it was an ex. The jealousy will be overwhelming even though your partner came home with you and seems to have completely forgotten about the encounter.

That’s what this book is like.

Was She Pretty? deals with the insecurities all current boy/girlfriends feel about the ones who came before them. Even if the relationship is long gone, there’s something about the fact that the person you’re with has a past that was separate from you that’s somehow intriguing, and most of us are more than a little curious about who came first.

The book is an illustrated story with short vignettes about couples, their exes, and the details that remain to plague the current flame. One woman has an emergency at her boyfriend’s house and finds (to both her horror and delight) a half-empty box of tampons. There is the man who will never let his current girlfriend answer the phone in his apartment, and you can just tell she thinks it’s because of the ex. These tales are all short, a few lines at the most, but tell a story in just a few sentences. They are further illustrated with the author’s drawings to develop the point.

The reason I enjoyed reading Was she Pretty? is because envy or jealousy as an emotion is so raw and all pervading. You can almost sense it in every person alive and most of the time sadly enough it is because of the person you aren’t with. Who are they with? What are they doing? What is going on in their life? These questions and more do not seem to let go. That is the beauty of this book. It stays and it lingers.

Was She Pretty? is an interesting book and will take no time at all to read. If you’ve been that guy or girl, the distrustful or openly curious one who can’t just let the past be the past (and I think we all have at some point or another), it’s worth it to see someone put those feelings into words and then illustrate them so candidly.