The Veil Of Veracity: A Review
Indian comics? You got it. Featuring: The Veil of Veracity!
Right now, comic books are the ‘in’ thing; you might even say that its their era. Your childhood friend who would have laughed on seeing you read a superhero comic book is now paying to watch those same characters on the big screen, and then bragging about it. On top of that, capitalizing on the increasing attention turned towards them, comic book creators are pushing back at the limits of a comic book story (did you know that The Walking Dead was originally a comic?), which in turn gets more interested readers, in turn getting more converts to the idea of seeing these comics on the screen and….safe to say, this era is going to last a very looooong time.
So what is the situation in India? While for the longest time, our mainstream comics have had that ‘pulp fiction’ aesthetic best seen on Wheeler stalls, creators here too have attempted to challenge our ideas of what to expect within these pages. Corresponding to the comic boom in the West, helped by cough the internet cough, as well as online stores ready to home-deliver your choice of comics, there are Indian comics which everyone on the street can relate with. All you, the intrepid reader, need to do is to keep an eye out for them.
Among one of the many Indian graphic novels out there, we review ‘The Veil of Veracity’ by Siddharth Shetty & Ankit Maroli, with artwork by Soham Kamat, and published by Notion Press.
Writer: Siddharth Shetty
Artist: Soham Kamat
The story of Nirvana rests on an intriguing twist on what we see and believe. Based on mythology, the story is an account of a man’s quest for purity, and the consequences of it.
There is no lack of subtext in the tale. Be it the take on the older Rudra and the younger Shiva, the wink at the Lakshaman-rekha, the reference to the ancient tale of the Makara, as well as the subtle comment on the result of running after purity in any sense, this can survive quite a number of rereads as you look for what else you missed. The pacing is also decent (interpersed with flashbacks), as the story goes through its high action points and low exposition points.
The overall feel of sparseness is strong here, for the story is set around Mount Kailash and its surroundings. The art as well as the story communicates to you the landscape, along with the starkness and the hunger of this place; no lone man or woman can survive here based on humanity. The action scenes span a number of dialogue-less panels, even pages, showing no lack of ambition on the author’s part, even if the artist does stumble in doing justice to the same. While in some places the artist has created some eye-catching panels (special mention here for that above gorgeous two-page spread depicting the mountains), as well as played with the placement of the ‘gutters’ according to certain scenes, there is sometimes a lack of spark in the movements and expression of the characters. As for the story, I have a couple of complaints; after all that building up of the ‘great’ temple, on entering it, you find….light? Another thing which bugged me was a plot hole I couldn’t get (spoiler alert): if Rudra is alive and well and living just some distance away, why couldn’t he drop in to the monastery once in a while? He might have even given some tips for the young ones.
All in all, a good one.
Writer: Ankit Maroli
Artist: Soham Kamat
This (rather) short story is an account of an aged couple living in Mizoram, and of how they may have been deceived by their very own memories.
The story moves quickly, as it draws you inside their home and their story(s), with a heartbreaking reveal at the end. It is rather tough to reveal more as almost everything is connected to the story, but the message of the story will stay with you, being extremely relevant for our times.
The artwork, compared to the first story, gives a feel of being ‘packed in’, be it the dialogues, the characters or the panels. Coming off the outdoors-set Nirvana, this gives a sense of being set in an urban atmosphere. There is also no attempt to shake up the panel layout or the gutters, with an almost uniform 6 panels per page. It actually seems apt for it, for the core of this story are its subtle emotional beats. A good attempt by the creators.
Currently available on Amazon
(Disclaimer: Siddharth Shetty is my brother)