Author: Pratheek Thomas
Publisher: Manta Ray
I'm always pumped up when I come across an Indian graphic novel. This fledgling industry needs all the support it can get to even hope to compete against he global heavyweights like the U.S.and Japan. So it shouldn't come as a surprise when I say I was excited before reading Manta Ray comics' Hush. At the end, however, I was disappointed.
Written by Pratheek Thomas and illustrated by Rajiv Eipe, Hush is a story, and an incredibly short one at that, of a young school girl who guns down a teacher in front of the entire class. While you might expect something as bold as this to be the basis for a thrilling and mature experience, it turns out to be rather frustrating. The reason? Hush is a ‘silent graphic novel'; it does not have any word balloons. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it does not tick all the boxes. Comics are an incredibly powerful story-telling medium. The illustrations might be extremely crucial but it's the script and story that make the spine. And when the dialogues are omitted, the visuals are tasked with getting the story across. Unfortunately for Hush, that just does not happen as the task here is way too overwhelming.
It takes many attempts to truly understand what is going on. The story shifts between past and present and it takes a keen eye to figure that out. Even at the end, a lot of questions are left unanswered: why did the girl shoot the man? What was troubling her? What is the father telling her that gets her incredibly upset? Questions like these deliver killer blows to this ‘experiment'.
Coming to the visuals, they are top notch. Even though the artist is burdened with illustrating when there aren't any dialogues to complement the drawings, he almost pulls it off.
The style is pretty unique and something that you don't see very often. It seems like it has been created with pencils and water-colours, although the ‘colours' in question are just black and white. The characters' expressions are amazing and deserve special mention. I absolutely enjoyed seeing the way Rajiv uses the characters' eyes to show emotions of varying extremes. That level of detail, although extremely vital, is quite hard to achieve. Kudos to the artist for that.
Hush is a very bold endeavour and something that most people would not even think of attempting. While it holds promise, unfortunately, that is all that's there. The Indian industry certainly needs efforts like this one, but in Hush there is a lot that's left to be desired.
Sharan M., III Year B.E, RMK College of Engineering and Technology