The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is, as I have mentioned before, a magically good book that has me enthralled. It is the story of Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay, two comic book artists in New York in the early 1940's. Michael Chabon has soaring imagination; a lustrous, electric story-telling ability; and an erudite vocabulary. With Kavalier and Clay, he has written a book that has many layers and has driven me on a whole series of interesting side-journeys as I read the book.
The first part of the book is about Joe Kavalier and his attempts to become a great escape artist. The passages that talk about the gritty details of being an escape artist were so powerful that I found myself going off to find more about Houdini - what he did, how he did it and so on. Then there is the piece around Salvatore Dali that is unforgettable. Again, I found myself going off on the side to read up about Dali and his strangeness.
Most centrally, the first half of Kavalier and Clay (which is about where I am at right now) is about comics. The book is set at a time when comic books are starting to capture the public imagination, Superman is all the rage, and every publishing house is coming up with their own versions of caped men (and occasionally, women).
All the talk about comics as an art form sent me on another quest to look at comics and comic blogs (particularly Indian comic blogs). Readers of Brick and Rope might remember that the last time I went on such a search, I had come across The Comic Project, a great site with scanned copies of old Indrajal Comics issues. This time around, I found another gem.
Fly, you fools is an 'Indian web comic about life, and its irritations'. The author Saad Akhtar is wickedly funny, outrageously irreverant, horribly potty mouthed and very inventive. The comics are (self-confessedly) not fine art, but the content is hilarious. I particularly enjoyed the 'About this blog' (how often can you say that?) and the comic on 'Large Hadron Collider'. Annoyed by my continuous laughter over a half hour, my neighbour at work finally came by to ask me what I was reading. I sent him the link and a few minutes later, the guy next to him was the one getting annoyed. As Akhtar's sub-title on Fly, you fools cheekily suggests, "people are mindless cattle".