In the graphic novel, the city takes on a myriad of shapes, sometimes merging with the story and sometimes becoming the story itself.

See Bengalurus journey from quaint city to urban nightmare unfold in this graphic novel
Features Graphic Novel Thursday, August 03, 2017 - 19:17

For anyone living in Bengaluru today, there exist two cities in their imagination--a Bengaluru of the past with its quaint and charming buildings and then there is the Bengaluru of today, which is increasingly turning into an urban nightmare. 

Bangalore: A Graphic Novel places itself in this space, where we are confronted with the city in all its darkness and are also reminded of the city that once was. It is an intimate encounter with the city that any resident will recognise. 

The graphic novel opens with a series of black and white panels. Appupen’s dark graphic story depicts a futuristic, dystopian city. A single panel populated with looming buildings and twisted roads, the crowded frame is representative of an urban aesthetics that runs through the novel. 

Appupen’s ‘Bangaloid’ is one of the nine stories of the graphic novel that uses the cityscape to create a narrative of the city that is both brutal and endearing. 

“We believe that a city is an ‘act of the imagination’. So the stories are not passively strung together in a collection but talk to each other–this conversation is the thread that ties the volume together,” Jai Undurti and Praveen Vempadapu of Syenagiri write in a press note. 

The anthology of nine stories brings together artists and writers like well-known novelist Zac O’Yeah, Sreejita Biswas, founder of Striptease online magazine, George 'Appupen' Mathen, visual artist and comic creator, illustrator Prashant Miranda, visual artist Ramya Ramakrishnan, writer CG Salamander, among others. 

Hyderabad: A Graphic Novel opened the ‘Every City is a Story’ series in 2014. Bengaluru is the follow up with Goa slated for 2019.

In Bangalore: A Graphic Novel, the city takes on a myriad of shapes, sometimes merging with the story and sometimes becoming the story itself. It places itself in the tradition of graphic novels that use the comic form to archive urban experiences.

The stories capture a distinctive energy of the city--dark and sometimes suffocating, slow and engaging in other times. The stories contain within them the various contradictions of an urban experience.

In Ramya Ramakrishnan’s ‘No More Coffee’, India Coffee House, which still stands as a testament to slower times, becomes a space for time travel. The past and present collide in this narrative. 

Ramya Ramakrishnan

The story '11th Main 9th Cross' gives us a panoptic view of the urban landscape as we follow the gaze of the vigilante operating from the roofs of the city. The frozen frames of the city are underlined by a sense of lurking fear and danger. 

Sreejita, Ojoswi Sur and Karn Kaul

Jai Undurti and Rupesh Arvindakshan’s ‘Mileage’ depicts a lonely man trapped inside small spaces, that of his car, office or home. He finds an outlet in his late-night drives which have a more insidious motive. 

Sumit Moitra chases the legend of ‘Gunboat Jack’ through the Bangalore of the 1940s and 1960s, where Brigade Road, Victoria Hospital and the Opera House become a part of the adventure of the characters. 

Zac O’Yeah teams up with comic book artist Harsho Mohan Chattoraj to solve the mystery of stolen ATM machine in 'Missing ATM'. We are introduced to a range of colourful characters that crowd the city. 

Prashant Miranda’s nostalgic portrayal of growing up in the city in 'Bangalore My City' depicts a place that exists in memories of people who have known it for long. 

While urban landscapes and city dwellers mostly populate the novel, the cover art remains jarring. As The Ladies Finger points out, while the novel escapes cliches in depicting the city, it finds itself trapped in stereotypes when it comes to depicting a woman and also remains disconnected from the visual portrayals within the novel. 


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