I have been historically wary of Indian comic book anthologies, especially ones with a ‘purpose’ or ‘mission’. But, Gaysi’s Graphic Anthology has managed to buck the trend.
It is visually stunning. As soon as you browse through the first few pages, you know that the anthology has been designed with love, drawn and written by people who are on the frontlines of a cultural and human rights movement – which really doesn’t get the spotlight enough in this country. If this anthology is an attempt to bring it to the fore, I guess I can get behind that.
At a 100 odd pages, Gaysi’s anthology is rich in content and diversity. With stories drawn from a plethora of artists and writers from across the art/advertising/design spectrum – the anthology attempts to give each individual a voice, a day in the Sun. And it works as a sum of its parts and in individual morsels.
Like I mentioned before, the artwork is gorgeous to look at – especially in places where the artists explore the sexuality of the individual characters and the intertwining of their physical forms. It is a glorious mix of colours, pencils and inks. Perhaps some of the best I have seen in Indian ‘anthologies’. The art pieces from Carol Rosetti, Amirkhan Pathan and Vivek Nag clearly stand out as near masterpieces – ones that need to adorn art galleries or hipster cafes at the least.
The anthology is at its best when it is telling simple, human stories. “Laxmi” made me feel sad, but with a smile. ‘Let’s Dance’ was an insightful look into the concept of ‘consent’ in the queer world and ‘Case of the Floating Woman’ was great storytelling.
Which finally brings me to what I personally thought was its greatest flaw – the lack of enough good stories. When you have a great cover and great design tying the book together, you expect great stories too because in the world of graphic storytelling, aesthetic visuals aren’t enough. When you get over the initial amazement of the beauty of the book, you notice that the editing is flawed, and in ways, not living up to the design elements. A successful graphic anthology truly happens when words and images both come together to form a power couple – in this book, it is only the visuals that is playing the superhero.
But even with its flaws (that only the nerdiest of graphic narrative lovers will notice) Gaysi’s Anthology is brilliant in the way it has given a visual voice to all the stories. And indeed it has set a benchmark for all others to top, here on out.
Click on the image to view few pages from the ‘The Gaysi Zine’