Comic Books : A Personal recollection

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Suppose you are a shy kid and don’t like human interaction much and in your house lots of people come and go, then you just sit inside your room and wait for them to leave the house so that you don’t have to give replies to their god-forsaken questions.

But what you do locked up in a room? If you have a sibling you talk to him / her but there is a limit to what people can talk to each other. In this situation, imagine if your parents are intellectuals then your houses are filled up with lots of books, magazines and papers. When you are young, you don’t care much about the world and nation affairs, you care about the comic book snippets, crosswords and puzzles in their supplement. That’s how I entered the world of comic books. But with snippets in the papers and magazines, to know the complete story you have to wait 2-3 months as they only have 4-5 scenes per day. And if you are blessed with impatience, then your next logical step is Comic Books.

I never liked going my village (reason : water of that region doesn’t suit me and I use to get skin infections there) but going to villages is sort of annual pilgrimage in India (till now), so I didn’t had much choice. But traveling was a long affair as it used to take 3 days to go there and I always bought 7-8 comics during that entire trip. And those books were mainly Naagraaj, Super Commando Dhruv, Parmanu and Tiranga. Raj comics was the publisher. I used to think they were the coolest superheroes. But in one summer, we went to Patna to meet my relatives, my aunt’s son had came for holidays from his engineering college back then and he was teaching me how to play bike racing games on PC. That was my entry to the world of video games (but we are going to focus on comic books here, video games in later posts most probably ). One day he was watching a movie on HBO, the display screen was black, someone was jumping here and there in a cool car with cape, Jim Carrey was being Jim Carrey in a green tight fitting suit and Tommy Lee Jones was dating two beautiful ladies. Nicole Kidman became my first love of my life. I would still like to marry her if she wants to marry someone 20 years younger than her. So I went and sat with him and I saw Batman Forever. That incident introduced me to the wonderful world of DC comics. After that I asked my parents to subscribe to HBO and Star Movies at home. And began watching all the movies day in day out. I watched James Bond’s movies, Steel, Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Centurion, Spider-Man, Iron Man and the list goes on. So Marvel Comics also happened. And in the holidays, I began to found out sitting and reading comics.

I started to find out the basic idea differences between DC and Marvel. DC is more realistic and true to engage your dark thoughts about the realism and the world. Marvel is about the Happy-go-lucky guys who sometimes get into difficult situations. In the same time, while on a trip to Tirupati, I read Karna’s and Rabindranth Tagore’s biographical graphic novel by Amar Chitra Katha.

That was my introduction to the world of Graphic novels. Definitions abound (a quick search on the internet will show you that), and are often confusing and contradicting. The Americans started calling this medium Graphic Novels and the Japanese Gekiga to differentiate it from comics and manga. It covers fiction as well as non-fiction, but is clearly meant for a mature audience. It’s all encompassing when it comes to genres. And its impact on pop-culture cannot be ignored.

So day by day, my obsession to these characters and storyline grew by leaps and bounds. I used to go through all the wiki and whatever I could find to learn about them.

With age, my fascination with sequential art remained undeterred and I felt myself gravitating towards stories of a higher literary calibre, told with an economy of words and deftness of brush strokes. These were stories that painted a broad canvas of human emotions in a way that I found very different from the more conventional text-only prose.

I had come a long way since then. Read a lot of comics, graphic novels, Mangas. With these books, I think English has become my first and go-to language. Now even I dream in English also.

Now a days I am reading The Dark Knight III The Master Race . Frank Miller and his talented team is bringing out the real depth in the Batman story line.

Now I believe I had given you enough motivation to start reading Graphic Novels. Fans of Tarantino and Rodriguez would love to read Lone Wolf and Cub – a staggering epic created by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima in the seventies. These 28 volumes of manga (a total of 8700+ pages) are set in Tokugawa era Japan and tell the tale of a master swordsman and his young son. This masterpiece has served as an inspiration for some of the most brilliant moments in world cinema over the last 30 years.

Based on Paul Auster’s story City of Glass (from his acclaimed The New York Trilogy), City of Glass: The Graphic Novel serves as a successful example of an adaptation carried out by independent artists of a previously published piece of prose. David Mazzucchelli and Paul Karasik’s artwork takes the story to a dimension the original author could have never imagined possible.

And then there is A Contract with God by Will Eisner, the book that cemented the term Graphic Novel into modern lexicon. It is a collection of short stories set in a Depression-era-affected Jewish community of the 1930s.

Other interesting titles for collectors – Blankets by Craig Thompson, Bone by Jeff Smith, The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Maus by Art Spiegelman.

But make sure you read Sandman by Neil Gaiman. I still hadn’t gone through it but it is on my list. After the college, it is becoming little tough as most graphic novels are printed and published abroad they can leave a sizeable hole in your pocket.¬†And I have lots of bills to play.

So, go to a bookstore and give them a try. They aren’t bad and they are miles better than the cartoons of today like Chota Bheem. Rahul Gandhi likes Chota Bheem and you don’t want that your kid also ends up like Rahul Gandhi.
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Now the regular sections.
Music videos which is on my Playlist now a days.
Tu Mera Nahin

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In other news,
My faith in humanity is shaken. Aargh!

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