No activism, and no girlfriends, too. Graphic artist Appupen's new satirical comic hero Rashtraman is the newest hero in town
There’s a new superhero in town, and he doesn’t tolerate any radicals. He drinks green tea, so there aren’t any free radicals in his body and he doesn’t have a girlfriend, as he doesn’t believe in them. No, we aren’t talking about a wannabe politician but graphic artist Appupen’s new satirical comic hero, Rashtraman.
(Above and below) Panels from Appupen’s comic, Rashtraman
While the idea of the anti superhero emerged in October, Appupen sketched the comic strips in November 2015, which are out as part of a web series. “I put them out now, because I may not be able to put it out there, later. There’s always room for anything in India. Lots of business ventures are desperately trying to create an Indian superhero. Most of them are trying to revive some mythological character, hoping that the mythology and aura of ancient India will do the market trick. I’m just doing this independently, and not trying to feed/feed off a market,” says the Bangalore-based graphic artist.
Rashtraman catches hold of protestors and hands them over to the police. Appupen plans to keep it as a web series for now. He feels that the idea of making commercial gains from superheroes is what separates mainstream and independent comics. “Rashtraman is simple and comes from a very old idea. The glorified comic superhero is always a right wing hero. Look at Captain America or Superman. They even go to battle with the American troops to take over small countries for their corporate overlords! Big business has thrived through the superhero comics and put a message in the young reader’s mind. We are not changing the idea of the superhero here, but only the light we throw on him or the way we show him,” he elaborates.
The artist adds that Superman, who is not a human, dresses up as a human so that the reader empathises and connects with him. This helps him become a good guy; otherwise, he’s a flying alien spewing fire from his eyes. However, unlike Peter Parker Spider-Man’s human avatar or Batman’s Bruce Wayne, Rashtraman doesn’t have an alter ego because being a superhero is his full-time agenda. “If an aggressive CEO or politician suddenly realises his human roots and becomes a bit more human, he won’t be that aggressive guy anymore.
And the world may get a bit better, a bit more tolerant, but not in RM’s case,” suggest the artist.
So, who are his enemies, we ask. “Thinkers, artists, writers, and anyone opposed to the ‘new freedom’ of Rashtria. He got rid of all the evil activists last year,” he reveals. We don’t feel safe anymore.
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