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The Itch You Can’t Scratch – A Re-review

6 Jun

After the Comic Con 2010 ended, we were all on a high. My cousin had won a bundle of free comic as the 2nd prize, and he had left the entire thing at my place for me to consume. For all you foreign readers – It is an age old custom in India that whatever a younger brother wins, he has to share it with his elder brother. For reference, read the wiki about Draupadi. Yes. It is true. That is what we still do in India :P. For the non-American foreign readers, well, it’s just this arrangement between my cousin and I. He is the keeper, so I read and then he takes them, reads them and archives them. I am a mess and nothing stays safe with me.

Anyway, I digress. Among the lot, the first book I started reading The Itch You Can’t Scratch by Sumit Kumar (one of the writers for Savita Bhabhi, which was ONE of the reasons I picked this one up first) and I must say, it turned out to be a pretty interesting read, contrary to all my apprehension.

Main Cover: The itch you can’t scratch

People who claim to have the so-called Indian Values embedded in their spine and those who think sex is a taboo and so is speaking openly about your family and friends… well… You better stay away from this book; it’s definitely not for the likes of you. Seriously! Run away. Hush. Shoo, go watch some lowly reality Television show to satisfy that pervert voyeur within you or something, nothing here to interest you. GO! NOW!



Now that the Cult of Ekta Kapoor has vamoosed the hell out of here, let’s continue with the review.
Inside cover

It is a book / comic / er… graphic … novel (??), if you may, which describes the life of one Sumit Kumar, born in a middle class family, his father working with SBI making him move a lot because of the transferable nature of the job and with him going through various changes in life, getting stuck in unfortunate and sometimes idiotic and totally dumb situations, trying to get a hold of his life, trying to live up to his personal expectations, trying to materialize his dreams of having a “creative career”, getting stung en route, getting wiser, better and finally like any good old Boy Scout Superheroes, He conquers all hurdles to ultimately live his dreams. Well, the dry ones at least. (I am guessing that all the wet ones were utilized for those 3 scripts for Savita Bhabhi)

Personally I loved the content of the book (despite the crappy art, which I kindda liked, but that’s mainly because I can’t draw to safe my life from a homosexual orgy. The real artists might have a different opinion)

The book is shocking, revealing, funny and totally understandable. It is witty, crude, bitching, abusive, gross, revealing, genius, pathetic and crazy in parts. If I have to use only one adjective– It feels Familiar.

It’s one of those books which ANY average North Indian male, born in the 80s can associate with. The life with your typical family, stress on education, especially on becoming an Engineer or a Doctor preparing for IIT, MBBS, IIM, IAS, patronizing attitude of all adults – is all too familiar to me and everyone else who has had the pleasure and torture of growing up in a quintessential Indian Middle Class family.

It’s like those Beatles songs, which every teenager in love thinks was written specifically keeping him in mind. To use an example closer to home, it’s like Pehla Nasha from Jo Jita Wohi Sikander. Every High School kid in love thinks that the love he is feeling now is the one! That’s it. Nothing will ever top it – Until the next love or better still, sex comes along- and that this song was composed totally for him and no one else but him!

You can see the authors’ attempt at some honest humor coupled with the bittersweet symphony of the pain entwined with that humor, his success in achieving it, his honesty, his references, his lousy attempts to hide those references all too clearly in this 178 page bundle of fun.

His-story in the making? Sumit Kumar bares it all… (Click image to view full size)

Once I started it, I could not put it down. It reminded me a little of Douglas Adams and Peter Cook and Monty Python and Eddie Izzard for some reason. It has a very non-indian sense of humor (more towards British Humor) despite being an out and out Indian book, complete with grammatical errors (most of them deliberate), a complete potpourri of Hindi, English and part Rajasthani, with fake edits, numerous errors and all that jazz. The forecomic (sic) part is brilliant.

The characters are full of life, so –so familiar, you can instantly associate with them. A Chacha, who was a bitter drunk, another relation who died poor, a matriarch who holds the reins of the family tightly and firmly, the references are countless!

After Savita Bhabhi, I had very high expectations from Sumit Kumar, and he certainly lived upto them by delivering this gem of a book, which every Middle Class Indian fanboy should own. It is worth the price. I have already read it twice, once in its entirety and the second time – in part – some bits which I liked a little more than the other bits.

To be fair, I didn’t buy the book, I got it as a part of the prize goodie bag for the Cosplay on Day 1 that my cousin (the Wolverine) won, but I’m going to order one for myself too. I would like to keep one copy for myself.

If you like humor, if you want to seriously enjoy 178 pages of brilliance and craziness all rolled into one, go buy The Itch You Can’t Scratch!

Let me finish by saying – He is indeed one of us!

He sure is… Or that’s what we want him to believe…

As our good friends at DCP often say… Like It? Buy it!

‘nuff said!

Nish’s Notepad: The Itch You Can’t Scratch

2 Jun

Post India’s first Comic Con, I read an awesome book, which admittedly I should have reviewed somewhere in February, but my apologies for being late people!

After 20th Feb, 2011 or Day 2 of the Comic Con, as some like to call it; the first graphic novel I read was “The Itch You Can’t Scratch”.

Story: Sumit Kumar
Art: Sumit Kumar
Cover: Amitabh Thakur
Title: Adhiraj Singh
Editor: Anant Singh

Now the question comes why only this? There are a couple of reasons for choosing TIYCS as the first one to read, but the main point which led me to start this heavy 178 pages comic is that it is a collection of different short stories.

Almost immediately my interest was captured when I saw familiar faces talking to each other in the initial pages of the comic – Jatin Verma, Pran, Adhiraj Singh and the man himself- Sumit Kumar. The next interesting thing to me was the language used : a mixture of hindi and English : Hinglish! This comic is an easy read and even easier to connect with because of the way it is written. It would seem as if you are listening to a close friend talking .

This story narrates the life of Sumit Kumar as he takes the reader through his eventful life, which more often than not are quite funny!. The issue I faced was that I could only relate to select few incidents as I am yet to come out of school and this book talks about college and adult life too.But it was nice reading about what I’ll go through in a few years. I just hope my experiences are less humorous and more mundane!

Now onto the story,the roller coaster life of Sumit is as interesting as girls find Justin Bieber. I liked the story, I liked the narration and I liked the CRAPPY yet suitable artwork. The BEST-EST-EST thing about the book is the title, and the connected end of the story (before future predictions; Page 118-125). I have so many personal favourites in this book, that I can write another book on it. I am trying to avoid spoilers here so that you can go out and buy the book yourself to read and relish. Suffice to say it’s a slice in life humorous take on Sumit’s life, and I am sure you would find glimpses of your own life as you read through Sumit’s. Some incidents will make you cringe, some would make you feel sheepish and some would make you laugh out loud!

I read it in 4 hours in one night flat and laughed my ass out. Dude, those 4 hours spent with coke and this comic were awesome. I had my 9th finals a few days after, so I wasn’t able to dissect it properly, but now I can speak about it on Comic Addicts!

After the enormous amount of praise for the story, let me come to the art. Although the art suited the story, but I expected more out of 350 bucks as the art is very very basic, somewhat cartoonish in not a good way. I am not deriding the art as it suited the story just fine, but just pointing out that if I pay 350 bucks for a comic book, i expect better art. If it had been 100 less, you’ll see TIYCS as popular as Wimpy Kid. I mean it is, but people prefer borrowing it rather than buying it.

Now for a special guest appearance, I have a little review from a friend, who is into comics, but not a comic addict like me-Arnav Singh.I loaned him this book and he came back with this:

Bhai, Mazza aa gaya ye book padhke. It was awesome, especially the GIRLS wala part :P.. Ahahahahahahahaha 😀

Nevertheless, Sumit Kumar’s comic autobiography despite his crappy yet suitable artwork is a must read. So if you can’t buy it ( hello 350 Rupees? ) borrow it .

Art: 2/5
Story: 4/5
Quality: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Edited By Mayank Khurana 🙂