It was a book launch like nothing else. Blaft Publications launched their The Obliterary Journal Vol 2 whose theme is non-veg at the bustling Nochikuppam fish market
“Innaiku onnum vikkala!” (I haven’t sold anything today), mutters Kala as she poses for a photo. She frowns at the unsold fish at her stall in Nochikuppam, but laughs as the camera clicks moments later. This is Kala for you — she complains, curses, scowls… but she’s actually laughing all along. She is among the heroines in Nochikuppam Fisherwomen Comics, a photo-comic in Blaft Publications’ The Obliterary Journal Vol 2.
The book was recently launched at a shanty in the Kuppam off the Marina. It was a book launch that had none of the usual activities associated with such events. Kala and Ilavarasi, the main stars of the comic by Ratzzz and X. Kumar, received the first copy of the book.
Edited by Rakesh Khanna and Rashmi Ruth Devadasan, The Obliterary Journal Vol 2 is a collection of photographs, photo-comics, graphics, and artworks with non-veg as the theme.
While most book launches happen in fancy hotels, the team decided to take a different route. Tender coconuts were served to guests who chatted over the cries of fish vendors and passing vehicles. The smell of fish hung in the air as photos were clicked and copies were passed around. Curious onlookers with bags heavy with fresh fish from the Kuppam stopped to stare at the proceedings.
“It is most appropriate that we launch the book in the fish market since its theme is non-veg,” said Rashmi of Blaft. Also, two of their characters earn their livelihood there — why not release the book in their presence, as they carry on their everyday activities?
The ‘seashore beauties with hearts of gold’ as the comics say, grinned as they flipped through the pages of the book to show us their photos.
In one, Ilavarasi wields an aruvaal and ‘rrrraaarwwwwrrrr’s at the reader; in the next, she gives a demure smile with a bubble that reads ‘you were scared for a minute there, weren’t you?’ The Nochikuppam Fisherwomen Comics are extremely funny; the photos capture the women’s uninhibited expressions.
Comics featuring a lonely leg-piece who takes on space idlies in the desert, a green butterfly who makes a ribbon out of her wings, a photo feature on butchers in Lahore…the book is a quirky and funny take on meat and its consumers. It has contributions by Appupen and Meena Kandasamy, among others.
Here’s what Kala in Nochikuppam Fisherwomen Comics has to say:
I’ve been selling seafood here in Nochikuppam for 15 years. I’m mostly a soft romantic type, my favourite movies are the old pictures, like with Sivaji and Saroja Devi. But I also know karate! Nobody better try and take advantage of me, or I’ll thrash them good!