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Rajat’s Random Ramblings – Ravanayan Begins…

1 Jul


Comic Addicts has done it again. In an unprecedented move, we are doing, probably for the first time in India, a pre-release review of one of the most anticipated book this summer, Ravanayan.

This has only been possible with the cooperation of Mr. Vivek Goel the owner and the chief artist of the Holy Cow Entertainment, who was futuristic enough to realize the way cookie crumbles. Other Publisher friends… Ahem. We are waiting… Our public DEMANDS pre-release reviews!!! 😉

Anyway, as always, I get distracted and wander off to paths unexplored. Let us come back to the task at hand.

One of the 2 covers from Issue 1 – The inner turmoil – Sage Father, Demon Mother
Click on the image to view full size.


So dear readers, I was as excited as I can be when I found out that Vivek has finally decided to let Comic Addicts do a pre-release review of his upcoming summer blockbuster Ravanayan and couldn’t wait for it to be delivered. After signing and collecting it from my friendly neighborhood Post Man (he was bitten by a radioactive post during a field trip to the GPO, you see), I went deep inside my sanctum sanctorum, closed all windows and turned off all the lights except that one table lamp and sat down with Ravanayan’s double size first issue in my hands!

The first issue is actually a giant double issue, including 2 covers (YAY!!!) – that contains an awesome surprise! Especially for those who have pre-ordered the book. Good things come to those who wait, so be patient my Young Jedi.

The first cover is a beautiful artwork portraying Ravan surrounded with 9 demon heads (making it a total of 10, obviously) and has been colored vibrantly and brought to life by a young talented colorist Devayu.

The Demon Lord surrounded by his inner demons? Vibrant front cover by young Devayu
Click on the image to view full size



The story begins with an interesting character from Ramayan – someone you wouldn’t even dream of seeing in the story – who is in the middle of an exciting battle, which ends with a twist of events that leave him as confused, if not more, as he was before the battle commenced.


Okay. I guess after reading this sentence you might be as confused, if not more, as you were before this sentence started! 😛

Go on. Be confused. Make wild guesses. Threaten me, if you will, but I ain’t gonna give you any details about what happened or to whom. Nor am I going to reveal the slightest plot, because my dear readers, this is a book which you should own. There is no fun in just listening to the story or even reading it. You have to hold it in your hands, and watch the beauty and the magic brought alive by a team of young and extremely talented bunch of artists.

Kapow!!! An eye for an eye? I say aye!

The art for this issue has been done by Vivek singlehandedly. The special first part of the book has been colored by none other than our talented Mr. Pugaonkar. Incidentally this is the first storyboard that Yogesh has colored. Up until now he was being used exclusively for covers and promo arts. I must say going by the detail in colors and effects that he has done an impressive job here too. Not totally unexpected, mind you. He has obviously raised our expectations from him and might have to go even more extra steps to satisfy our hunger for awesome art now.

Catch me if you can… The Mace and the Face
Click on the image to view full size


We now move forward, leaving our bewildered character and all you bewildered readers behind – er actually, we will be moving backward in time. WAY back. A time before life became complex, before the world lost its beauty at the hands of man and demon alike, a time when things were simpler, easier to understand and adapt.

A time when 4 siblings were young, restless, happy and innocent. The chapter starts with a view of an Ashram in the middle of a jungle. Ravan, Kumbhkaran, Vibheeshan and Shoorpanakha are leading a peaceful and fun filled life in the Ashram, far from the maddening crowd. We are introduced to the 4 kids who are as similar to each other as they are different.


If we look back and refer to the original scripture, Ravan was the brilliant one, a Maha Pandit, a scholar and a warrior who had no equal. He conquered all the realms, beat even the most powerful Kings and ruled Lanka with a golden fist. Firm yet fair. His only downfall was his ego.


Vibheeshan, in the original story, was a kind hearted gentle man who detested violence and strives for peace. He is also sensible and level headed and has the head of a patience and logical man. He is the first to realize the consequences of facing a powerful warrior like Ram and also that when facing a superior opponent it might make more sense to compromise rather than fight and loose everything. His folly was poking at Ravan’s already inflated ego by telling a warrior of his caliber to surrender before another warrior, which not only antagonized him into sending his own brother in exile but also made him angry and mad. An infuriated warrior is prone to make mistakes, and so did Ravan.


Shurpanakha is the brat, who wants it all and goes right to her brothers whenever she doesn’t gets what she desired.


Kumbhakaran is the sloth and all he wants is to eat and sleep. Relatively simpler character out of the lot.


Alright. End of the lecture. Now that you have read this and revised your Ramayan facts, its time for you to forget all of them and be ready for a new outlook.


Yes, you will see familiar names, places, events but they are familiar only in name. In Ravanayan, you will experience new flavors to the same characters. Each carrying an aura of the familiar persona we mentally associate with them, but it is only a very small aspect of their personality.


All these characters have been drawn from the scratch, given life to and made to wear new clothes as well as new personality by the good folks at Holy Cow Entertainment.


The bond between the siblings, right here, forms the crux of the entire Ramayan and I’m sure that it will have a very important role to play in Ravanayan too.


We are introduced to a young Demon Lord who is just a kid right now, but already has the streaks of greatness, albeit tainted with an inherent darkness.


A quiet little boy, wise beyond his years, trying to look after his family and always striving to do the right thing.


A young brat of a girl, who is the apple of the eye of her brothers, who are ready to do anything and everything for the sake of their little sister.


A slothful, lazy boy who loves nothing more than sleeping and eating. No major surprises here, for sure. Or at least not at this point. Who know what will happen to young Kumbhakaran in the issues 2 to 10?


And as promised earlier, I ain’t gonna tell ya the story me hearties, am I? Hehehehe. Should have realized by now!

Terror in the Jungle… Young Demon Lord with his siblings
Click on the image to view full size

This Chapter 1 has also been drawn by Vivek and has been colored by Komal Surale. The art is as intricate as always and Komal has done a pretty neat job. Especially in this particular breathtaking action sequence full of blood and gore and a fantastic fight!

The effects for this issue are pretty good, although not really breathtaking, except in a few places. This might be due to the fact that all the art for Ravanayan 01 was done several months ago. Since then, however, all the young artists and colorists have come a LONG way. I have seen some samples of the future issues of Ravanayan and trust me boys and girls… If you think that the first issue is good, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

All in all, excellent script, very catchy, doesn’t get too slow or preachy at any point, except probably the first 2 pages, and keeps the pace even and steady all across the issue. The characters are well defined, given a very new and different aspect, despite the intense familiarity which any Indian child who was conscious during the 80s would feel with these characters. Ravan, Vibheeshan, Kumbhakaran and Shoorpanakha are familiar to all of us and thank to Ramanand Sagar’s turtle paced Ramayan television series a lot of us would have a pre-conceived notion about these main characters as I have already discussed earlier, but Vijayendra Mohanty manages to expertly dodge the comparison by keeping them distinctly different flavored yet bearing the same roots from the original epic.

It is a team of very young and talented artists, most of whom are working for the first time on a professionally published comics, and that is saying a lot. In fact, a little birdie told me that Holy Cow has worked with 9 virgin writers and artists already for their next few publications! Keep it up HC, we need the support of all our publishers to promote young and raw talent!

A sneaky peaky at things to come – keep watching this space!!!
Click on the image to view full size




Art work is excellent, much better than Were House, and as I had mentioned in my Re-Review of Were House, the type of art Vivek draws needs color to be able to express itself completely and become what was desired in the first place. The scenes and the places are very well drawn, the anatomy of characters is well proportioned and the best part is that art and story go along hand in hand at all times, without one leaving the other behind to seek individual glory.

THIS is what makes Ravanayan a book to take notice of. At the price Holy Cow has declared, this is a bloody bargain. If you like mythology, history, fiction, war, battles, kings, magic, fantasy, horror, gore or any other genre, this is a must have book in your collection.

And guess what? This is just the first volume!!! There are several more to come from the House of the Cow!! Moooooooooo!!!!

I urge thee, wait not, pre-order on Flipkart or just call Dial-a-book and get hold of this one before it goes out of stock. Watch out now, the day of reckoning is upon us and Lord Ravan is about to take over the world!!! Excellent comic, entertaining and fun to read and leaves you salivating and wanting for more. After I flipped close the back cover, the first thought that popped in my head was – Holy Cow!!! THIS is how mythological comics are done…

The Pondering Pawaskar – An opinion on WERE HOUSE titled…….If wishes WERE HORSES….or…..I’m a WERE-ASS….

23 Jun
[The author wishes to make it ridiculously clear that the opinions mentioned below have sprung from his own messed up head & the owners/administrators/co-contributors (one of whom has been mentioned below) of this site do not necessarily support these opinions. He would understand if the said owners/administrators/co-contributors resort to concocting tales of his dementia or of his being a were-ass to counter the bad publicity the opinions below might garner.]

I titled this article as an opinion instead of a review because I believe that reviews are done by people who know a thing or two about comics. Opinions on the other hand are like assholes. Everyone has one and so I qualify! Two things to note before you read. There are SPOILERS and a spoilt comic geek stuck in a thankless job venting his fury ahead. You have been sufficiently warned.

I learnt to never judge a book by its cover! You should learn to never judge a book by its review. Read it yourself.
Indian Comics are touted to be in a resurgence mode. The news gladdens the very heart which winces a little when I go through most of the new fangled comics launched recently. Were House is one such book which while not as bad as some other books out there, didn’t turn out as good as I hoped it would. The hype had me salivating like Pavlov’s dog while the actual book made me realize how the same dog felt when Pavlov rang the bell but didn’t deliver the doggie snacks. Bad boy Pavlov.
To be honest, Were House does do a lot of things right. But it also does a lot of things wrong. Let’s take it story by story and then come to the art and other itty-bitty things called details.
Guardian Demon
Imagine Harry Potter’s entire story coming as a chapter in English medium balbharti textbook. How if Mr. Tolkien had crammed the entire Lord of the Rings saga on a paper napkin? Point is that every story needs a different amount of time to flourish. When one has just about 8 pages to tell a story in, the plot should be simple with a maximum of a couple of twists. In Guardian Demon, (MAJOR and I mean MAJOR SPOILERS) we’re introduced to a peaceful village that is destroyed except for a single survivor who is then saved by a were-leopard who he then nurses back to health and later trains under till he’s capable enough for being presented before a goddess who grants him power before he and his mentor venture forth to an ancient temple where they fight off an army of henchmen prior to taking on the main villain, a warlord, who gets pissed off at them and fights them to the death but not before he kills the boy’s mentor and leaves him all alone again!
I shall give you a much needed pause and some visual relief.

A visual representation of what happened to the Guardian Demon!
Click the image to view full size

The reason I scrunched the entire story in one sentence is to prove my point that a story with so much happening should not have been told in a single story. Don’t get me wrong. I think the plot had a lot of potential. Akshay could have pulled out a 10 issue maxi-series out of this single story. He would then have been able to bring the story alive and create characters we all could have loved and cared about. The way it was rushed didn’t allow me to relate with any of the characters. I didn’t feel sorry for the protagonist’s loss, get taken aback when the leopard was revealed to be a lycanthrope or be astounded when he met the goddess. All of them just happened and I was an uninterested viewer. The main villain (Mayur is it?) didn’t even instigate a yawn. Forget about dread. The plot as I said was promising but was too rushed and certainly out of place in a book that has horror as a theme.


Mousetrap

Simple story? Check. Minimum but effective twists? Check. Goosebumps? A few. Mousetrap is the best story of the lot. I liked it more because of the were-creature! A mouse trapping humans. Even the title is spot-on. Good job Soumya Das. Take a bow. I’m really not in a mood to say good things so let’s move on.

Mousetrap – Plain brilliant
It’s a dog’s death

Shweta, in the write-up following the story, mentions that the story is built up on a fear brought along from a dark, dark corner of her mind. Are they playing Terminator in the theatre in that corner of the mind? Robots taking over the world? Mankind in fear of extinction? Let’s keep the inspiration apart and consider a few logical aspects. I always believed that lycanthropes are shape shifting creatures that change forms as they wish or according to certain cycles in nature. The transformation into were-dhols was permanent. Doesn’t that make them mutants and not lycanthropes? The choice of dhols as the were-creature should have been avoided as they ended up looking as werewolves and not were-dhols. Logically why would humans combine themselves with dogs to survive extinction?

Wouldn’t combining with cockroaches (who have been around since before the dinosaurs) be more apt? Ohhhh…A were-cockroach. Put in a creature as creepy as Jeff Goldblum in ‘The Fly’ and you got a winner.

“Hasta la Windows 7, baby…”
One for the fictional fights T-600 vs Were-dhols or should it be Were-Woofs?
Again, like Guardian Demon, this story too failed to register as a horror story. But the story has a few redeeming points. Unlike Guardian Demon, the story didn’t try squeezing too many elements in the actual story. The back story was spelt out separately in the beginning. Plus the plot of the story that was illustrated was simple and the twist in the end was immensely satisfying.
Art AKA Vivek Goel

The problem with art here is that some frames are mind-numbingly awesome. They make the ones which are not, stick out like Wolverine in a Teletubbies episode. My personal favorite is that of the were-rat dragging the maid’s corpse with her insides spilling out! YIKES. The fight scenes among the were-dhols are also good. However, the two fight scenes in Guardian Demon were not up to the mark. There is inconsistency in the art too. Some panels are very detailed with good amount of attention paid to the background. Others are in limbo and seem hastily drawn. Plus I think the B&W execution didn’t really work out. The effect would have been great for a horror themed book which Were House promised to be but didn’t turn out to be.

Details

God is in the details. Going by that description, many of the new comic book houses  seem to be atheists as the details are horribly ignored. An excerpt from Guardian Demon reads, “I trusted her with my very” Very last piece of clean underwear? Another gem comes in the end, “My time is done. You were never always meant to take my place. And you never will.” Huh? Maybe I was never always meant to understand that sentence and I never will!
Ahhh! The joys of clean underwear!
There are typos and grammatical mistakes in a few places in the write-ups. Another grouse is that the flow is wrong at a lot of places. I had to make an effort to figure out what part I have to read first. In many cases the response gets read first and the stimulus comes later. It wrecks the entire reading experience. I know I sound like a grumbling old man and I shudder to think how I’ll be when I am actually a grumbling old man. However all these books are spear heading the comic resurgence in India and while others prefer a lenient attitude, I don’t. One has to get the basics right. I don’t want these guys to run before they walk. I just want them to walk properly!

To sum up…

Guardian Demon : Great plot potential squandered by rushed story telling.
Mousetrap : LOVED IT.
It’s a dog’s death : Inspired plot but good twist in the end.
Vivek Goel : Has to dig deeper in his inner awesomeness.

BTW

I DO NOT intend to demean any creator’s hardwork. I just want them to pull up their socks. I am doing my Pavlov’s dog routine all over again for RAVANAYAN. I have full faith that Vijayendra and Vivek will make me go HOLY COW when I see it. All the best. Don’t turn the were-dhols on me or I’ll be like a mouse trapped without a guardian demon!!!

Nish’s Notepad: Werehouse #1

24 May

After 5 days of fever, I finally managed to attend the Delhi launch of Werehouse Vol.1, organized by the Comic Addicts team itself! an hour late though. I missed the fun they had, but grabbed my copy, which is Holy Cow‘s debut title. So, here I go!
Werehouse has 3 were stories at the price of 1, so you get 3 reviews for the price of one too.. 😀

1. Gaurdian Demon

Script: Akshay Dhar
Art: Vivek Goel
Colors: Yogesh Ravindra Pugaonkar
Letters: Komal Surale


Guardian Demon is the first story in the first volume of Werehouse. The beast here is a guardian, a savior, an not an enemy. The family of the protagonist dies in an attack, leaving him behind. Alone, he wanders in the home of dangerous beasts and realizes it when an animal attacks him. Luckily, another beast defends him, but that is no ordinary beast, its a WERE-BEAST, half snow leopard and half warrior.

She teaches him the skills of a warrior, and then comes the time for the test.. This is my favorite part, thanks to Akshay for adding the mythological twist. The protagonist gets the power of Shakti-Ma and becomes a Were-Leopard himself. The rest is for you to figure out 😉
Now to my views, Gaurdian Demon is a complicated story, with a nice blend of drama and mythology in it. The art, do I even have to say that it’s awesome? Everyone knows Vivek Goel has no match. The only thing I wanted more in this one was a nice end. There was an abrupt end- which was overshadowed by the amazing story. Nevertheless, GD is a must read, an awesome story blended with awesome art.

2.Mousetrap

Script: Soumya Das
Art: Vivek Goel
Colors: Yogesh Ravindra Pugaonkar
Letters: Komal Surale

Mousetrap is rather scary and a little more violent. The beginning is a little kiddish, where a newly hired maid is EATEN UP!

Nevertheless, the art in this part of the book is the best. The protagonist here, goes to the doctor and complains she has hallucinations, about a Were-Rat! The doctor fears that the protagonist’s husband has something fishy in him, goes to inspect him. On reaching the home and his room, the shock comes. Here ends the kiddish story, and it becomes rather SPOOKY..
The end here is fantastic, but I didn’t like the beginning much. The story is an easy one, but at the same time, full of suspense. I’d not rate it above GD, nor below. Both are awesome, BUT both have flaws- the end, and the beginning respectively.

3. It’s a Dog’s Death

Script: Shweta Taneja
Art: Vivek Goel
Colors: Yogesh Ravindra Pugaonkar
Letters: Komal Surale

The third and the final story, written by Shweta Taneja, who is I think also working on the next-to-next upcoming title by Holy Cow, The Skull Rosary is again complicated. This story is future based, and the first page of the story tells the story of several hundred years in one go. Robots (namely Biobombers) control the Earth. To survive, humans inject themselves with the blood of Dhole’s. So, there’s not one or two were-dogs but a whole gang of them (or should I say, a pack of them).
There is an unusual timer starting from the first panel, the logic behind which, I didn’t get till the end of the story.

So, in the beginning of the story, the hungry protagonist runs into a human girl, but crushes his feelings of eating her because she reminds him of his old days (and think she’s cute 😛 AWWWWWW). So, to save her from the biobombers, he takes her to his caves, where other Were-Dhole’s live and battle with ’em to to save her. Unfortunately, he’s too weak to battle all of them and in the second last page, other get hold of him and are about to eat the girl WHEN.. your time to read now 😉
To begin with my views, both the beginning and the last page of this story were amazing, but what was between them not so good. It’s a Dog’s Death is as complicated as Guardian Demon, but it lost its track in the middle, which I didn’t like. Nevertheless, super beginning and end brought it equal to the former ones.

Overall, Werehouse has increased the hopes for Ravanayan, by turning out to be too good. Best of luck for it, and I hope that it turns out to be even a greater hit with its first double sized issue coming this July.

ART: 5/5
STORY: 4/5
QUALITY: 4/5
OVERALL: 4.3/5

Stay tuned as we’ll have another take at Werehouse by Rajat :D.
P.S. For the next week, I feel like itching. Itching what I can’t. 😉