I can’t recall where I heard the saying, “Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.” For every gambler, this quote rings true. When you compare it to vices like alcoholism or hard drugs, gambling is often seen as their harmless younger cousin. For instance, I have many friends who are fitness freaks who have chosen to follow a healthy addiction-free lifestyle. When they bet on every Serie A football match over the weekends, they refuse to accept it as an addiction. Well, most of them are good gamblers and know when to quit. But the majority of gamblers are what we call suckers. Without suckers, the gambling industry will cease to exist. They are seduced by the green-eyed monster, greed, and in the process, often lose themselves and all things they hold dear. Even the ever-virtuous and wise Yudhishtir, the eldest of the Pandavas, was entrapped by gambling and those who have read the Mahabharata, know how that went down.
Today I am going to tell you all about a brilliant graphic novel that wonderfully captures the world of gambling dens, the human proclivity for addiction, and how dark and deep the consequences of gambling addiction can run. Titled, The Pig Flip, the graphic novel chronicles the tumultuous journey of Babycha, a gambler ensnared in the relentless grip of addiction. Narrated and illustrated by the masterful Joshy Benedict and translated from Malayalam by K.K. Muralidharan, it transcends the boundaries of conventional storytelling, weaving a narrative that is as dispassionate as it is hilarious, as arresting as it is haunting.
At a clandestine rendezvous on an abandoned island in rural Kerala, under the cloak of midnight, village men converge to partake in the intoxicating allure of spot flip - the king of all card games. Here, we encounter the protagonist Babycha endeavoring to emancipate himself from the clutches of gambling after getting married to his beloved Paulikutty. Their idyllic existence in the embrace of 'God's own country' is imperiled when Babycha succumbs once more to the siren call of spot flip, precipitating a cataclysmic loss that compels his family to embark upon drastic measures to salvage him from the abyss.
Joshy Benedict's enchanting visuals transport us into the heart of Babycha's labyrinthine psyche, deftly capturing the essence of addiction, destiny, and the capricious dance of fortune. The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of the fairy-tale foothills of the Western Ghats, infusing the story with an ethereal quality that lingers in the mind long after the final page is turned.
Sarnath Banerjee, renowned Indian novelist and artist
About the author:
Joshy Benedict, an artist and animator hailing from Kerala, graduated from the Government Fine Arts College, Thrissur. His debut graphic novel, The Pig Flip, originally titled Pannimalath in Malayalam, garnered widespread acclaim within Kerala's artistic and literary circles. Benedict's creative prowess extends to the world of animation, with his first independent animation short, A Coconut Tree, showcased at festivals in India and abroad. His versatile talents have also led him to assume pivotal roles as a creative director and animator on numerous Indian and international animation projects, solidifying his reputation as a masterful storyteller and visual artisan.
About the translator:
K.K. Muralidharan, a production designer and graphic artist, is based in Mumbai, where he owns and operates his design studio. Hailing from Wayanad, Murali graduated from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, in 1994. His multifaceted talents encompass illustration, photography, and translation, further underscoring his versatile and creative acumen.
Click here to order a copy of Pig Flip.