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Halahala is Here, is Now, Appupen
For the show, I have drawn stories from Halahala – a mythical world that shares its name with a deadly poison in Indian mythology— at times strange and fantastic, at times a reflection of our own. Halahala is Here, is Now is a collection of short stories that are strung together by their twisted urban reality and where the city has a continuous, lurking presence. The collection is also a slice of life narrative of White City where the extremities of urban life have created a new and evolving breed of city dwellers.
The Valley of Bloody Lal looks at the notorious underbelly of White City – of deceit, corruption, killings and monsters along the wake of a suitcase. Midway is a futuristic narrative when Halahala has taken over the world and the distinctions between machines and people, and their roles become less legible. The Hunters is a surrealistic take of the city. In Dreamsu, Appupen shifts to a new city and inspiration strikes as he inspects a potential house to rent, changing him forever. In The Prey, I have used an alternate setting to emphasize the invisible presence of the city. Super Heroine Help! - where a desperate cry for help floats over the city spires and reaches its destination. The Super Heroine dives in.
Fort Kochi: A Walk Through a One Square Mile Town, EP Unny
Between cartoons I like to step out and sketch. For one, it is an escape from the cubicle. From the drudgery of bending over the drawing sheet or laptop to condense content into a rectangle that holds. No such worry when you stand, stare and sketch. No need to ideate, no need to stylise, no need to bother about all the graphic dos and don’ts that make a printable tile. The best reward comes from the passerby who stops to ask, “Are you an artist?” Most evenings of my five weeks of sketching Fort Kochi I went back to the hotel not knowing how to handle this unwitting flattery. The sketches eventually started piling up to clear the confusion. The drawings were beginning to tell a story about the place in a manner that reflected much cartoonishness. There was no plan, no plot and not in the least the intention to mock but whichever way I shuffled the sketches the Kochi story wouldn’t go away. And the story seems to be held together by what is essential to the one who made it up – the comic eye.
Meanwhile, Elsewhere and A Superhuman Existence, Gokul Gopalakrishnan
For me, comics with their image-text interplay and time-space continuum relay a unique creative/reading experience–a collaborative, creative process that demands an equal share of involvement from both the artist and the reader. Often non-linear, self referential, and allusive, the art form throws up innumerable possibilities for creative expression. Transcending the pages of the comic book, it is equally at ease on the street walls, a café or an art gallery. The strolling flaneur is as much the reader/viewer as the artist himself. The act of page turning becomes traversing the narrative space, physically. The works ‘Meanwhile, Elsewhere’ and ‘A Superhero Existence’ invoke this very nature of the art form – strolling, the city, and the superhuman. A self-referential take on the Superhero genre, ‘Meanwhile, Elsewhere’ inverts the totalizing gaze of the vigilante and in turn such recidivist tendencies manifest in our society. Both these works celebrate the vulnerable walker and everyday occasional triumphs for her to survive.
Unny and I are trustees of the Centre for Comic Arts (CCA), an organisation driven by its vision to extend comic art to the larger public domain. Appupen is a much-valued new friend.