A glint of red, a tale of intrigue – a new graphic novel in Tamil

Credits – Ramya Kannan – The Hindu, Indian daily newspaper

In some parts of the world, comics are a revered form of entertainment. The frenzy some people manage to whip up for the Japanese Manga, for instance, you could be forgiven if you mistook it for the armies of the world preparing for yet another war. It can be that intense. And here, in Tamil Nadu, where trends can take time coming, we have finally made a beginning, beyond the Amar Chitra Katha translations and the serialised adventures of Sindbad the Sailor in Kannitheevu .

Sivappu Kal Mookuthi (SKM) is arguably the first ‘digital’ graphic novel in Tamil. It was nearly one-and-a-half years in the making, says its creator, author J.S. Nandhini, who directed Thiru Thiru Thuru Thuru. “One of my films got dropped. That is when I thought I must do something to reach out to the people,” the Chennai-based writer says.

“A lot of comic books have been made into films in Hollywood, but not here, strangely. I wrote this as a screenplay first, and then thought why not make it a digital comic novel. If it is made into a film, then, that will set it apart from the 300 films that are released every year?”

But this comic book is not just a way to a film, though she will certainly pitch for one. SKM is also about exploring the graphic novel, in digital format, in Tamil. It tells the story of a young husband who has to rescue his wife from a supernatural entity in classic graphic novel style. “I not only wrote the story, but also planned each element of the comic. Right down to the thought bubbles, I did it all. I even did some of the drawing, to tell the designers what I wanted. A number of graphic designers tried, but could not get their head around the requirements of a graphic novel. Finally, two designers — Mahesh and Sainath — did what was needed,” she says.

The novel, priced at Rs. 249, is available in various easy-to-download formats across digital platforms, including as flip books for the PC and Mac on http://www.mbcomicstudio.com and was launched as a Kindle publication on Amazon on Monday.

Time now to invoke the inner Manga in the Tamil psyche.

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