‘Bangalore: A Graphic Novel’ unwinds the garden city with a kaleidoscope of stories

After a successful Kindle debut, Syenagiri’s physical copy of Bangalore: A Graphic Novel will be hitting stores and Amazon shortly. Bangalore: A Graphic Novel is a part of Every City is a Story which is an initiative from Syenagiri, a graphic-novel studio involved in new and immersive methods of storytelling. Hyderabad: A Graphic Novel (2014) opened the Every City is a Story series and Bangalore is the follow-up with Goa slated for 2019. “We operated out of the assumption that great cities influence their inhabitants completely, right down to the very way of thinking and perceiving the world,” shares Syenagiri’s Jai Undurti. “Just as Mumbai or Paris have their own distinctive voices – the kineticism of Mumbai for example, often shows in works written there – Bangalore too has a distinctive signature.” Bangalore has a huge talent pool of authors and artists and “we wanted to show-case the stories they wanted or needed to tell about their city,” says Undurti. It is for this reason that Bangalore: A Graphic Novel is an anthology – the team wanted a mix of established artists as well as help those who are just entering into the field. They believe that a city is an act of the imagination. So the stories are not passively strung together in a collection but rather talk to each other. This conversation is the thread that ties the volume together. The stories in the anthology are based around the themes which form some intangible glue that holds a city and its culture. The Every City series eschews clichés and fights reducing cities to single, so-called “iconic” images. For instance, Hyderabad does not have a single depiction of the Charminar while there is not anything directly about pubs or the IT sector in Bangalore. “We have Appupen with his trademark black humour looking at Bangalore twenty years from now, a futuristic dystopia with an architecture that oppresses. At the other end, Prashant Miranda looks back at the city that was a meditation on memory,” explains Undurti. The origin story of the city by George Supreeth has its basis on classic comic-book lines. Young artist Ramya Ramakrishnan places the venue of her story at the India Coffee House and spins out a yarn featuring time-travel and coffee. Jai Undurti and Rupesh Arvindakshan track a lonely man whose hobby is to go on late-night drives. Zac O’Yeah teams up with one of India’s leading comic-book artists, Harsho Mohan Chattoraj to solve the mystery when an ATM goes missing while CG Salamander and Devaki Neogi delve into true crime, unearthing a dark secret buried in Richmond road. Solo, Ojo and Sloth follow a vigilante operating from the roofs of Bangalore while newcomer Sumit Moitra chases down a legend from the 1940s. And finally, Abhishek Malsuni’s beautiful cover pulls together all these strands to tell a story in itself, of a city during a time of change. “Bangalore: A Graphic Novel is as much from Bangalore as it is about Bangalore. By that we mean it is a collection of stories that could only be written in a certain place, in a particular time, as much as it is about a certain place or a particular time. In the end, the contributions for Bangalore are a real kaleidoscope of styles, stories and ways of seeing the world,” concludes Undurti.