A graphic take on injustice

Updated: 30 October, 2020 08:16 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

A new online comic centred on deforestation releasing this weekend takes a dig at totalitarian regimes across the world

Pages from the comic
Pages from the comic

A totalitarian regime with questionable intentions wants to clear a piece of forested land for its own selfish gains. Its most unscrupulous members are assigned the job of getting it done. They build a villainous team that employs every dirty trick in the book to achieve this end. But they meet with resistance from those whose very existence will be at stake if the deforestation does take place. And there is thus a battle where a citizen's movement of sorts is pitted against the nefarious machinations of the powers that be.

If that sounds like it is too close to home, it's not necessarily so, since it's the overarching plot of a new comic book that will be released as a series on social media, starting tomorrow. It's called Rashtrayana II: Divide and Fool, and George Mathen — who goes by the moniker of Appupen — has created it. The plot features a superhero, Rashtraman, who's actually an antagonist drunk on power. He's the one who intends to clear the forest, for which he builds a crack team of characters with questionable intentions. They include PropaGandhi, who — as the name suggests — is in charge of building propaganda in favour of the felling of trees, putting an army of trolls on the job. Then there's Batmanu. His job is to hand out bats to people that they can use as weapons against the peaceful and non-violent enemy. Vigil Aunty, on the other hand, is entrusted with the responsibility of upholding women's rights, except that her belief system is aligned more with the Manusmiriti than with women's lib. Together, they join hands with some other like-minded people to mirror totalitarian regimes across the planet.

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Mathen's illustration of himself as Appupen

But Mathen tells us that he was earlier never really interested in superhero characters as a comic book creator. He says, "Even if you take someone like Captain America, he is dressed in the US flag and seems like he's okaying some of the actions in the country's past, like the Vietnam War. So, it becomes a propaganda tool and that's why it's not what I wanted to do, until this idea of how power corrupts entered my head."

The result is Rashtraman, whose exploits will be digitally published in an episodic manner every Saturday, till December. Follow it to find out how the plot unfolds and whether — according to you— the story does indeed reflect authoritarian societies as we know it to be today.

Log on to @braindedindia on Instagram (to view the comic tomorrow)

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First Published: 30 October, 2020 07:53 IST

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