Published in the Hindu Metroplus/Sunday Magazine in October 2011.
Going by a trend set a couple of years ago, scores of visual narratives and original comics are being incepted by Indian writers and inkers. Jump Magazine, which rolled out just about more than a year ago, is one to capitalize on this trend.
The magazine that proudly proclaims to be ‘India’s No. 1 comic magazine for grown-ups’ on its front cover of the second volume’s first issue. Featuring four episodic stories, one-page comics and barely any advertisements, Jump does exactly what is expected of all magazines with a niche audience – exhibit, represent and promote Indian comic and graphic stories.
It’s safe to say, then, that aspiring comic writers and graphic novelists in India love to use Indian mythology as a base for their stories. The opening featured story is about the half-human half-demon Daksh, who hunts for souls escaped from hell. Action-packed from the origin story itself, the second issue of Daksh sees him paying a visit to the slums of Mumbai, before finding his main target in Tokyo. For ‘grown-ups’, this is certainly as mature as it gets.
The next story, featuring Batu Gaiden (“India’s favourite desi-manga”) is a regular fixture in Jump issues. However, what seemed immediately perplexing was the unique combination of story elements and art. There’s the anime art, which makes characters look certainly more manga than desi. Then, the backdrop of a super-powered cricket team (which is indicated to be an ancient sport) seems to be an imperfect fit for dramatic elements and ideas – once again – inspired by the Indian Epics. However, if Batu Gaiden is a favourite among readers, Jump writers must be doing something right.
One interesting inclusion in the magazine is that of ‘Starmaker Leviathan’, which was originally published by Dare Comics in 2010. Written by UK’s Adam Hamdy, the first issue of the sci-fi story begins in India. Unlike the other stories published, Starmaker Leviathan is narrated visually and graphically, with minimal importance to dialogue. Although left at a suspenseful juncture, the selection of this story reflects the international taste of Indian comic readers – gripping, yet lucid; with standout aesthetic illustrations.
The last story is a classic piece of Bengali detective fiction described in an almost Twinkle-esque manner, with art and characters sending Anant ‘Uncle’ Pai fans on a nostalgia trip. Sando and his cousin – the narrator Chhotku – are enamoured by world of Holmes, Feluda and the likes, find themselves trying to solve a local case of counterfeit cigarettes on their own. Presented under the ‘Old School’ section of the magazine, Sando’s bumbling adventure is also episodic, and is thus left hanging on the edge by the end of the magazine.
Pin-up posters of Daksh, along with fan art of the series is also featured. Two separate comics featuring the farcical camaraderie of the villainous Duhshashana is extracted from the world of Mahabharata and placed in modern society. The result is worthy of noting for its ability to use parody and referential humour for a quick laugh between stories.
So far, Jump is definitely exhibiting, promoting and supporting Indian comic writers, as mentioned before. What it needs to do next is to critique the scene. Being well-informed about the world of comics, Jump could include discussions and reviews on the current crop of mainstream and not-so-mainstream comic and graphic stories.