Warning: Graphic content inside
Like all great graphic novels (it would be very stupid to call it comic books any longer) after Odayan I - Aarambham came Odayan II- Yuddham. Page 92 close and we wait for part three to show up on the desk.
Created by Suhas Sundar (who won the Best Writer at Comic Con 2012) and Deepak Sharma, Odayan is set against the back drop of feudal Kerala and traces the story of criminal vigilante who seems to keep amassing people who want his head with the least bit of qualm.
With the reign of the Zamorin to challenge, Odayan is now being hunted by an assassin called Ambuttan while his other enemies lie waiting. Odayan must live and gather an army.
The story movies ahead in stunning ink work and while odds are that most of you will want to rip some pages out and frame them, you will, at the same time, feel insanely frustrated because you do not know when part three is due.
Odayan is not a story we know, it is not a new take on an well known epic or a character out of it. It is a new story that unfolds in blood, action and incredible, beautiful detail.
While we wait, we spoke to Suhas Sundar and got you some good facts and some bad news. There are at least three more books to expect after the third installment. Yes. They like torturing us it seems. Read on...
How did Odayan came into being? Is there a bit of history that we need to know?
The idea or at least the remnants of it had taken seed in my mind at an early age itself when I used to hear stories of Northern Malabar from my father and grand mother. There is a rich history and folklore of the feudal era in Kerala but sadly most of it is passed down in story form across generations and there isn’t much in terms of translated English content that sheds light on these stories. This is the reason why though the template for the characters and the setting draw largely from legends, we have pretty much employed a blank canvas for fleshing them out further.
What inspired you guys to pick up this story?
A historical setting, ancient martial arts and an enigmatic protagonist…this was sufficient fodder for us to take the plunge on this concept and when Deepak first drew the titular character, we realized we had something special.
When it comes to graphic novels, does one have an art idea in mind when they start off or does it eventually all fall into place?
The way we (Deepak and I) work, is to first chart out the story in it’s entirety, so that we have a fair idea of the significant events that we need to hit. During the fleshing out and script writing process, we may take detours and certain parts of the story may undergo changes, but the core concept and the backbone of the tale is retained. Eventually, everything falls into place…I honestly couldn’t tell you what all would happen in book 3, but we have already decided what the outcome is going to be.
What are your inspirations as far as Odayan is concerned?
Odayan is heavily inspired by Japanese manga such as Lone Wolf, Vagabond etc, but there is also a fair bit of American comic influence such as V for Vendetta. At its core, we are trying to tell a martial art tale, something that is cinematic, kinetic and historical
Why not publish Odayan as one big graphic novel instead of several installments? And how many more are we to expect?
Readers can expect at least another 3 books. With the different projects that we currently handle, it is difficult for us to churn out the complete story first and then go to print.
Any other stories in the pipeline?
We are doing a fair bit in the kids space for TV channels, but as far as graphic novels go, Odayan is where all our efforts and energy is currently directed.
While we are ruing about books that are in the pipeline, here are two other graphic novels that caught our eye.
Mumbai Confidential written by Saurav Mohapatra and illustrated by Vivek Shinde (Inked by Penguin. Rs 499) is a wedge of Mumbai crime noir. Frank Miller meets Anurag Kashyap over some pretty deadly scotch and decides to create the story of police officer Arjun Kadam. Kadam pretty much has nothing to live for so he’s not afraid to die. The perfect movie trope - ‘...a rising star in the ranks of the Mumbai Encounter Squad. A tragic event sends him spiraling into depression and drug abuse...waking from a month-long coma, Kadam is determined to catch the culprit...’. The novel has three intriguing interludes as well, three clean, smart stories - Full Moon, Missed Call and Demand and Supply. Bollywood meets Hollywood and some neat gun shots, blood and dramatic deaths later there is breaking news. So is Arjun Kadam going to come around again soon? It’s Mumbai, you know, anything is possible!
And then Aspyrus: A Dream of Halahala by Appupen (Harper Collins. Rs 599). The same guy who gave us Legends of Halahala and Moonward (which reminds me, I need to get my hands on the latter). The mythical world of Halahala comes alive in art and silence - no words thank you! Pretty much fits the ‘graphic’ novel concept to the t. Appupen described The Legends of Halahala as ‘ 150 pages of art! No words’ - Aspyrus gives you a big fat book of some more art. No one’s complaining here! The Bengaluru-based artiste has creates Aspyrus in three acts and spreads it all over with his signature art. If you didn’t like his earlier books - steer clear of this one. These are more the collector’s items than novels.