‘Moonward’ Writer To Release Sophomore Work, A Silent Graphic Novel
‘Legends of Halahala’, the colored graphic novel, will feature Appupen’s first superwoman
In 2009, when George Mathen aka Appupen launched his debut graphic novel Moonward, readers were hooked, yet confused— turning through the pages that said a lot, though many of them were without a single word. Four years on, the visual artist has now gone a step further, doing away with the written word altogether.
His second novel, Legends of Halahala, slated to release in December, is a 150-page silent graphic piece comprising five short, love stories and is colored with all the intricacies and allegories that Appupen delights in weaving into his work. “Words are not my forte. I try to tell stories without using them,” he says.
Set in Halahala, the fictional world he first brought alive in his 2009 work, Appupen delves deeper into it this time, bringing alive strange creatures and stranger wars. “Here I’m looking at the lighter side of Halahala. A lot of readers found my first book very dark and menacing. Many couldn’t get past a few pages. As a storyteller, I wanted to tackle humor. I didn’t want to be seen as a writer of preachy stories,” he says. Is that why he chose color over his monochromatic scheme? “That’s because these are colorful, living stories. I wanted to show another approach and side to Halahala. It’s not as ugly as part one,” he laughs, adding that the second installment is a standalone book.
The cover, like Moonward’s, morphs different faces into one. “In the book, I’ve tried to create many different stories, each with a different style. So the cover tries to bring all that. There is laughing face, a screaming one and many others. It’s like a totem… which brings some of the moods that are captured in the book,” he says.
It’s also the first time that Appupen introduces a superheroine of sorts. “Readers of Moonward had remarked that they wanted to see more of the women from Halahala. So I thought of this. My superwoman is very mysterious, and since it’s a silent story, she can’t have a name or even a catchphrase,” he jokes.
The only words that appear in this book are the story titles such as Stupid’s Arrow, Saga of A Ghost Girl, Oberian Dysphoria, 16917P’s Masterpiece and The Accordion Manoeuvre. “Three of the five stories in the book were written right after Moonward when I was on a holiday in Gokarna. It was the first time I started seeing myself as a graphic novelist. They are all love stories that explore different kinds of love like self love, creature love and others. 16917P’s Masterpiece is probably the grayest story here, since it’s about a futuristic wasteland,” he says, adding that The Accordion Manoeuvre is his surprise pack.
His home city, Bengaluru, recently hosted its first Comic Con. Does he plan to release the book there? “I would try not to launch it at Comic Con,” he says. “Those guys don’t support the artist. I was disappointed. All the kids who go the mall every Sunday came to Comic Con that Sunday. As of now, it’s not for comics. In fact there were just three stalls selling comics, the rest was all T-shirts and cups and saucers. It would be nice if Comic Con got some good international artists. But this was plain commercial. It looked like a fancy dress competition with 10 people dressed as Joker. There was also one half of Thompson and Thompson, cause the other one had to go home early,” he jokes.
While Appupen has five other short stories that he plans to release later as part of another compilation, he plans to start work on Aspyrus next. “It’s a word I invented. It’s about a flying creature that comes to Halahala,” he adds.
About his musical pursuits, the 33-year-old drummer of Lounge Piranha, which has now disbanded says, “There’s nothing music wise. I just play once in a while— hit the drums when I’m taking a break. But it’s like a bad break-up that I had, and I am not ready to get back so soon.”
Legends of Halahala will be out on Harper Collins this December.
Check out a few panels from Legends of Halahala: