If you are a fan of mythology, the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are treasure troves of trivia and philosophy. Which is probably why even after so many years I still pick up retellings of them. Sanjay Patel’s version is fresh and vibrant. He approaches it like a comic book. It is a simple bare bones retelling of the story avoiding the usual pitfalls of moralizing. Ravana, the demon king, is evil. Rama, the blue prince, is good. There is no grey area and moral dilemma equivocating in this version. This actually is a whiff of fresh air because the text that accompanies the visuals is minimal.For a really good reason.
Stylistic, Simple and Dynamic Art
Sanjay Patel comes from a Pixar animation background. So his representation of the epic is just… Epic. He brings straight lines, perfect circles, symmetric figures and clean uncluttered drawings to the board. Rama and Sita and Lakshman have a boyish and mischievous look that is lost in the other comics (where the adjectives are more along pious, powerful, handsome, divine etc.). Reminds me of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Samurai Jack , a must checkout series for its cultural references and style. Maybe I should take some pictures and put it up.
This is a great starter book to the epic. Once you have wrapped your head around the pantheon of characters more nuanced text heavy readings of Ramayana become much more enjoyable. Further readings, like Anand Neelakantan’s Asura, provide powerful counterpoints to the traditional point of view of Ramayana as presented here.