Reminisce a rainy afternoon, the new edition of The X Men series or Tintin is lying on your table. You are drinking your favourite masala chai when the sky turned in the shade of electric lavender, life is just perfectly enough at this moment. You wonder if only novels have had come with pictures like comics you might have read thousands of books based on historical facts and sensibility.
You are not alone in this wanton desire my friend, let me introduce you to the world of graphical narratives or novels.
The Graphical narratives enunciate a story with illustrations. These are novel-length work in the medium of comics. Unlike comics, you don’t have to go back and forth the pages to find exact meaning. Moreover, the graphic novel blends the verbals and visuals beautifully. You don’t have to wait in anticipation in the long line in a comic store like Sheldon Cooper for the new edition. The graphical narratives are propitiously long and complete, it expresses public histories and personal interpretations in the binary of popular culture. It includes more postmodern democratic popular forms and political interventions while catering to mass consumption taste.
Here is the list of top graphic novels that you can read which will blow your mind :
Bhimayana, the graphic biography written by Srividya Natarajan and S. Anand, is an account based on the injudicious experiences of untouchability and oppression faced by B.R. Ambedkar. The book is filled with Gond artwork by Durgabai Vyam and Subash Vyam. The Pardhan Gond art used here has originated from a marginalised Adivasi community. The fusion of the political narrative and folk art beautifully voices the stories of exploitation and activism in Bhimayana. The economic imperialism, political tyranny and social fascism associated with the Brammaanical model of caste are succinctly portrayed. The chapters are titled after necessities like “water “, shelter” and “travel”.Through the idyllic paintings and intriguing narrative, one can comprehend the social injustice prevalent for generations and still is in static continuity today. Along with that, the compartmentalization of colours and graphics have a symbolic meaning.
Corridor written by Sarnath Bannerjee was published in 2004. It focuses on the alienation and reality of urban life, a monotonous look to the desire and disappointments of youth, the ephemeral time which does not stop and sense of belonging to a place. It’s a twenty-first-century photographic vision of Delhi in a more intellectual and relaxed perspective.
The tea seller Jehangir Rangoonwalla is filled with wisdom and is a provident collector of second-hand books. He sits in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi and his three customers are poignant in the narrative. The lives and development of the relationships of three young men are displayed in the story. First one is Digital Dutta, who “lives in his head”, the second is Shintu who is newly married and is in pursuit of revelry, and the last is Brighu—the protagonist is a young urban intellectual who has shifted from Calcutta to Delhi for work.
Satirical social commentary unravels through mostly black and white visuals, with single episodes and images presented in colour. The multilayered graphical novel weaves a story of cultivated cities and cultural fabric that is fading slowly.
Palestine written by Joe Sacco explores themes related to Israeli-Palestinian conflict and day to day life of impoverished citizens living under brutality and extremely difficult conditions. Sacco spent two months in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1991 and 1992. The graphic novel is a personal account of his conversations with Palestinians. The people want their stories to be known, how they live in homes without sturdy floors, outdoor toilets with no walls and leaky roofs which drench their existence. The home, hospital and streets are open space for violence which remains unpunished. The livelihood is meagre and right to life is just an illusion. Joe Sacco is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause but does not inhibit himself to just an external observer and commenter. He lives with them, imbibes the socio-psychological thoughts and emotions of the people around him. He creates an identity for himself and acts as a moderator for the story he wrote. The realism and political-social dynamics represented by the words and visuals are impertinently thought-provoking.
Art Spiegelman’s MAUS, published in the 1980s won Pulitzer prize and introduced sophistication in the world of graphical narratives. Art himself is a second-generation Holocaust survivor who throughout the narrative tries to comprehend the brutal ostracization of the Holocaust by conversing with his father. His father Vladek Spiegelman who is a first-generation survivor. The tale moves back and forth between world War II-era Poland and New York City in the 1970s and 1980s. It includes complex politics and aesthetics through the lens of a flawed family. The visuals portray Jews as mice and Germans as cats. The history of the holocaust is so excruciating, memorable and so different that the second-generation survivors and others find it difficult to grasp and can’t associate with their self. The trauma of the survivors is inexplicable, they can’t accept or understand how they fell victim to the extermination of the Holocaust themselves.