Welcome to Halahala

MoonwardIn a land far away, there lives an old, wise man. A master storyteller whose eyes see all and whose mind remembers to tell us, the mere mortals, the best of tales. Stories that are heart-warming, fantastical, thought provoking and at times, hilarious.

George Mathen’s pen-name, Appupen, inspired by his own nick-name, Appu is a term all Malyalis foster familiarity from a very young age, as they listen to the stories of the wizened old man, Appu. Loosely translating to “grandfather” or “old man”, it is through the eyes of this “old man” that we watch events unfurl at Halahala- one of the most beautiful realms the world of Indian graphic novels has ever introduced us to. With two of the three graphic novels released already, it is now time for us to explore what, I will rather unabashedly term as my favourite Indian graphic novel!

Moonward, the first installment of stories from Halahala. introduces the world of Halahala to us, starting right at the beginning. War-struck, primeval and succumbing to bloodshed, the world witnesses dystopia, seeds sprouting into whole cities, birds that are robots and of course creatures strange and alien. “Moonward, in some ways, reflects a lot of what I was going through at the time I was creating it,” says Mathen about the graphic novel that took almost two years to complete. Though it was initially uploaded for free on the internet, it was soon discovered and published by Blaft Publications. “I didn’t have a publisher back then and putting it online was the only thing I could think of doing. When Blaft approached me, I was pleasantly surprised,” he confesses. Moonward boasts of some beautiful artwork even as it lacks the bubbles that traditionally incorporate narration into a graphic novel. The presence of just a few words in a largely silent format was fresh and interesting idea in the realm of Indian graphic novels. “If I didn’t use the few words I did in Moonward, I would have to draw out forty more pages to explain the idea to people. And that is not easy,” he cheekily admits.