New Blog

Well I finally came around to starting a new blog (have been planning it for quiet some time now) that is going to concern exclusively with Calvin and Hobbes. I cannot even begin to explain how much I have learned from Bill Watterson. I just hope this new effort would not succumb as another victim to my lethargy:

Comic Relief



Do you remember the time when barred from going out, you watched the rain pour down heavily on the closed window panes, spattering and sputtering on the sill, and covering the world on the other side of the glass in a white turbulent haze? Do you remember the cold seeping through the small crevices at the edges of a less than perfect window? Do you remember the ever so slight hiss that accompanied the damp wind as it tried to force open the only obstruction separating her from you? And the thin sheet of fog that further blurred the view of an increasingly wetting world outside. And the water droplets that formed on your palms when you tried to wipe it off. Do you remember the smell of the wet earth as it filled your senses on a monsoon day? With the trees swaying in a gay abandon, recently formed puddles of water getting irritated by the non ending rain, muddy, deserted streets playing host just to scared, dripping street dogs and rickety old tea shops brimming with people looking impatiently for the rain to subside. Do you remember the black umbrellas and the blue raincoats and the old translucent plastic sheets covering the top of 'rickshaws' and 'thelas'? And the rythmic sound of water beating down on the tin tops of indefinitely closed neighbourhood shops, finally finding its way through nondescript pipes and crevices and brinks into the rivulet that became of the already monsoon battered market road? Do the muffled sounds of a dazed town breathing slightly for a life punctuated by a merciless downpour still ring a bell? And yes, the smell again. The smell of wet earth. Do you remember that? The smell that permeated the gray, hazy, cold atmosphere painted with constantly dripping arabesque. And the blurry outlines of children wearing wet Baniyans and battered shorts creating ruckus in the muddy puddles. What about the pleasantly menacing sky with the nimbostratus clouds in a constant fight of supremacy against sunlight. And the tingling of cold, wet water as it poured down on your face while you tried to look up to the sky with half open eyes. What did you see then ? Was it just the rain ? Or was it the sight of independence. An infinite joy breathing within the confines of a few moments.


Comics to the rescue

After considerable deliberation and thinking it has occured to me that the most serious issues in life are more efficiently dealt with by the most trivial of mediums and seemingly the most simplistic of perceptions. I have seen that knowledge and information beyond a point have a way of muddling up facts, smearing up connections and finally blurring up conclusions into an incoherent mass of half baked opinions. Experience, although a worthy teacher, more often than not, only serves to consolidate ideas already seething with subjective bias. In a world too messed up with complex opinions, I find that the most intelligent observations and the most heartfelt commentaries occur in mediums deemed too stupid for intellectual discussions.

That is why I feel that comics have such an important place in society. They are not expected to be the mouthpiece of rationality and social change. They are not expected to be intelligent commentaries on economic problems and moral regression. No one expects them to speak thoughtfully on matters pertaining to religion and humanity. That is precisely the reason why the field is infested with idiots like Jim Davis but the fact of the matter is that only because comics are not obligated to be any of the above, their creators have the freedom to make them all of it and more. And in the past, atleast some of them have taken it upon themselves to make their creations more than just slapstick humor.

One that obviously comes to mind and to which I have alluded a number of times previously is Calvin and Hobbes. With the deft social commentary on issues as varied as the hypocritical nature of modern artist to man's complete failure at preserving the purity of planet Earth, C&H manages to speak much more than those bloated politicians and conceited economists. With Calvin, Watterson on one hand manages to evoke the nostalgia of simplicity, purity and innocence and on the other paints a lighthearted yet grim pictutre of a world increasingly getting encroached with degrading morality. He speaks about the evanescent nature of life with the same wit and tone as when he recounts Calvin's simple flirtations with Susie Derkins. He derides a whole generation caught in the celebrity obsession, ruefully talks about the encroachment of privacy by reality shows and silently snubs the go-getter, high octane, win-or-die attitude that drives today's economy. All in all, Watterson speaks with the detachment of an outsider and the sadness of someone who has lost all hope, and he manages to bring some really dark issues to light. He makes you (atleast me) think about our misplaced priorities in life, and he does it all in a very matter of fact, straight in your face way.

The other comic that seems to be too intelligent to be recommended just for 6 year olds is Peanuts by Charles Schulz. With the extremely simple drawings lacking even the most basic ornateness, Schulz delineates the most tender of emotions. Watterson himself once said of Schulz: "We recognize ourselves in Schulz's vividly tragic characters: Charlie Brown's dogged determination in the face of constant defeat, Lucy's self-righteous crabbiness, Linus' need for a security blanket, Peppermint Patty's plain looks and poor grades, Rerun's baffled innocence, Spike's pathetic alienation and loneliness. For a "kid strip" with "gentle humor," it shows a pretty dark world, and I think this is what makes the strip so different from, and so much more significant than, other comics. Only with the inspired surrealism of Snoopy does the strip soar into silliness and fantasy. And even then, the Red Baron shoots the doghouse full of holes.". Schulz has managed to inspire a whole generation of cartoonists and made them realize the possibilities vested in the simplicity of the quill brush lines. He has managed to elevate a supposedly trivial medium to an art form just by his gifted insight and tremendous creative ability.

Finally comes Krazy Kat by George Herriman. Actually I am not familiar enough with the strip to speak intelligently about it but I have read quiet a lot about it and am intending to read it some time in the future. The strip was syndicated way back in 1913 and it ran in newspapers till 1944. Although widely regarded now as the most intelligent and poignant strip ever created, it did not see popularity till the later half of the century. The premise, although extremely drab and monotonous by present standards, nevertheless gave the artist enough room to create lush landscapes peppered with ornately poetic language and subdued yet deep emotions of unrequited love and absolute apathy.

I find that human ego is too much of a detriment today to find common grounds over social issues from which a clearer perspective could be gained. Spurred by the prejudices accumulated over a lifetime, people become far too inflexible to yield even a yard of ground to opposing views. In such a case, I'd rather just let the flights of fantasy of Calvin take me to a world thats much more simpler, much more truer, much more honest and frankly speaking much more in-tune with me.

About Me

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Like a particularly notorious child's tantrums, a mountaneous river's intemperance, a volcano's reckless carelessness and the dreamy eyes of a caged bird, imagination tries to fly unfettered. Hesitant as she takes those first steps, she sculpts those ambitious yet half baked earthen pots.