3.2.13

Mixtape

by Praveen K, Devaki Neogi, Archana Sreenivasan, Manoj A Menon, Tina Thomas, Sachin Somasundaran, Jasjyot Singh Hans, Pratheek Thomas, Prabha Mallya.
Manta Ray Comics.


I remember when I first read Hush. In a tiny bookstore that was discretely playing some blues, I sat on a stair just looking at the first couple of pages. Eventually, the pages started to turn. Page after page, I kept thinking that I must put it back in the bookshelf – That if I read anymore of it, I’d be teary eyed and awkward in an almost cramped public place. But I read it anyway, because not reading wasn’t much of a choice.

I say “read”, because I am not sure what the better word for it would be. Obviously I bought it before I left the store. I needed for it to stay in my cupboard, even though I couldn’t say if I would really read it again. (Not because it wasn’t beautiful. It was. It’s just not the kind of story that I can bear myself to, again for the lack of a better word, experience for a second time)

When I got an email telling me that they were coming out with more of these comics, I was curious. Curious, because I had assumed Hush was what it was because of what it was dealing with. In its own way, it was a silent story about silences. But the very concept of whole stories being told without words, it was something that I was really excited about. So on the first weekend since the email that I had to myself, I bought the book.

Mixtape is, quite literally, heart-wrenching. But this time, I was prepared. I locked the door to my room. I made myself a cup of cocoa. I put on an extra pair of socks and snuggled into my blanket. And the book, it didn’t disappoint. (Even if it got over quicker than I wanted for it to).

It opens with Silver Spider, a story about a boy who does the sort of thing boys do and a story about a spider that doesn’t do the kind of thing that spiders do. I thought it was brilliant and twisted and dark and (yes, it’s true) funny! Stoopidkidsalwaysthinkingtheycangetawaywithstuff. Ha.

And then, well, and then. I was sitting there all pleased and stuff. I drank some of my cocoa and turned the page. I would have said that some warning would have been nice. But in all honesty, I was warned. Just a look at the cover would have been warning enough. The second story, Rather Lovely Thing. I don’t even know what to say about it. It took my breath away.

I wish I could say that I did justice to any of the stories that followed. I wish I could say that I was as moved by them.

I was clearly more impressed by them: Voyeur, worked a fun, sexy plot. I loved the irritation and rage on the man’s face. I loved how you’re expecting some sort of showdown. I’d like to think that I was the real voyeur. And I can’t say it enough, twisted and funny.

‘My Beloved’ seemed a little out of place. The art itself, for starters, was so much more full of detail than the rest of the stories. I’m not yet sure if I liked it. I feel like, as a plot, it had much more potential. I thought the first half was working up to something entirely different.

This little book packs quite a punch. I like the direction that it is taking Indian comic books to. I like that we’re growing up from Amar Chitra Katha, and Kari is not the singular standalone piece of work that was doing something amazing and downright brilliant. I like that I can look forward to things like Mixtape on a regular basis. (May I say, that Twelve in my head is already awesome?)

So go. Buy it. Make a cup of cocoa. Read it. If you don’t fall in love with it, I’ll give you your 55 rupees back.

**
(Regular programming resumes tomorrow. Story is getting written. It is in need of some editing.)

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