Gokul TG

Arts Research and Documentation

Grant Period: Over one year

This IFA Arts Research and Documentation grant supports research scholar Gokul T.G. to study and document the comic strip series by acclaimed filmmaker G. Aravindan that appeared in Mathrubhoomi Azhchapathipu, a Malayalam literary weekly, from 1961 to 1973.  The grant will enable Gokul to examine the history and impact of this comic strip series on the development of the graphic novel in India. He will also look at the intricate compositions in Aravindan’s comic strip series and its correlation to the complex visual narrative structures in his films.

Some of the crucial aspects that Gokul will explore through his research are a) the relation between the Aravindan’s comic strip and other emerging art forms of the time in Kerala, like the  modernist novel and neo-realist cinema;  b) the impact of politics on the comic strip; c) the comic strip as a document of society and the everyday lives of common people; and d) the manner in which Cheriya Manushyarum, Valiya Lokavum represented and influenced the Malayali Diaspora of the 1960s and 1970s.

A key concern of the study will be how a non-metropolitan comic strip managed to converse with the post-literate society of Kerala of the late 1960s and 1970s. Along with recording the readers’ reception of the comic strip, Gokul will interview other cartoonists, scholars, historians, family members, and Aravindan’s peers. This video documentation will be archived on the website of the Centre for Performance Research and Cultural Studies in South Asia (CPRACSIS).

To facilitate future research and enquiries, Gokul will also develop a comprehensive bibliography of critical texts, essays and books on comics and graphic novels. Gokul’s monograph will be a detailed analytical study of the comic strip series, containing 25-30 annotated strips that mark key moments in the development of the strip’s narrative. Gokul’s monograph will also include never before seen strips from the series. This project will provide an impetus to document the history of comics and graphic novels in India, and also locate Cheriya Manushyarum, Valiya Lokavum’s crucial role in its genesis. It will broaden the scope of comic art scholarship in India, by foregrounding a lesser known but significant comic strip artist like Aravindan.