In the year 1994, India was introduced to a new form of literature. Graphic novels as they are now well known, were once viewed as an extension of comic books and illustrations. Artist and writer Orijit Sen in The River Of Stories, captures the pulse of agitation movement led by an Adivasi group against a conniving corporation threatening to destroy their home and livelihood. Since their inception, graphic novels have transcended their initial public perception into evolved and detailed narratives that have powerful visuals backing them.
In the following decades, India’s budding graphic novelists have inched towards the forefront of several national and international contests, accolades, and more. The genre that was originally born in France is now seriously gaining momentum as the future of visual-text narratives in India.
We take a look at 5 graphic novelists that chartering this new territory with a mindful artistic conviction.
This Indian author, dancer, choreographer and writer delivered a trailblazing piece of work through her debut graphic novel; Sita, Daughter of The Earth. In this telling of the Ramayana, Nagpal has made impressive efforts in making Indian mythology and classics accessible to young adults. Sita, Daughter of The Earth was also nominated for the prestigious ‘Stan Lee Excelsior UK’ award.
Saraswati continues to etch her personal style of retelling Indian mythology through feministic perspectives in her subsequent works Draupadi: The Fire Born Princess which was released in 2012.
II. Amruta Patil
Armed with a distinct lens that captures the nuances of sexuality, gender, myths, and societal norms, this evocative storyteller has dished out several graphic novels that are powerful, bold, and introspective. Her 2008 debut graphic novel, Kari delves into the story of two queer lovers who are driven by drastic consequences as a result of society’s disapproval of their love.
III. Anand Radhakrishnan
Having bagged the coveted Eisner Award for his painting and multimedia skills, Anand Radhakrishnan is a popular name in the graphic novelist circuit this year. His collaborative work for the graphic novel Blue In Green which was published in 2021 garnered attention from international illustration and comic circuits earlier this year. In an exciting next endeavour, Radhakrishnan is set to release his own graphic novel in the latter half of this year.
George Mathen popularly known as Appupen amongst the comic and literary circles, is a graphic novelist, visual artist, and illustrator based out of Bangalore, India. Appupen’s satirical style of writing and fictitious world-building mirror political, and social upheavals we see in the world every day and stands out as a powerful voice of dissent and activism on the internet. His novel, Moonward was published by BLAFT publications in 2009 and narrates a page-turning tale of a dystopian world named Halahala. Since then, Halahala’s universe has only grown larger through the next 5 novels that Appupen has published.
V. Samit Basu
Basu’s graphic novel from 2013, Local Monsters forays into the populated and disorderly lives that migrants in Delhi live. His superheroes are found in the ordinary, in the mundane, and in the everyday. The novel was an attempt for Basu to process his own shifts and challenges that he experienced after his initial move to Delhi. Since then, Basu has churned out a slew of novels that utilize similar themes and narratives. His latest novel, Chosen Spirits was also short-listed for a JCB Prize For Literature.
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