Published: 2013 by HarperCollins
No. of Pages: 148
Subthemes: Dystopian Fantasy
An undue war caused by a naive lover-boy. A blind superheroine monster beater. An unlikely beastly love triangle with a controllable dragon. A sewer man desperate to leave a mark. A voluptuous gift and a naughty left breast. The Legends of Halahala serves an excellent repertoire of the technical mastery and conceptual brilliance of its creator. The term ‘Halahala’ derives from a poison deemed the most vicious in the world according to Hindu mythology, produced as a byproduct of the churning of the sea by Devas and Asuras to obtain amrita (nectar of immportality). The title thus symbolises the diabolical mood of the stories which is further inflamed by the absurd plotlines. Yet despite the dystopian setting, the ‘legends’ of Halahala thematically unite in their representation of humane qualities like love, envy, glory and lust in the absurd.
Hailing from Kerala, Appupen is known for his allegories of contemporary society within the mythical world of Halahala- a figment of his own imagination quickly developing mythical status. Appupen’s finesse is witnessed with his clever usage of colours in the anthology. In the second story The Saga of Ghostgirl, Appupen illustrates in black and white to depict the past, and switches to sepia to contrast a later timeframe when the protagonist is grown up. The lack of chromatic variety adds to the dystopian nature of the story, making one feel all is not well.
Legends of Halahala holds a 3.8/5 rating on Goodreads. The book was featured on Times of India’s 10 Indian Graphic Novels You Must Not Miss. Appupen’s earlier work Moonward was featured on BuzzFeed’s 21 Indian Graphic Novels That Should Be On Your Reading List (2015).