Author: Appupen

Illustrator: Appupen

Published: 2009 by BLAFT Publications

No. of Pages: 268

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy 

Subthemes: Dystopia

Timeline: Fictional


Moonward narrates the story of Halahala, a primordial landscape full of absurd creatures—a huge tortoise, giant robotic birds, weeping trees and cities grown from seeds. Full of dystopian thoughts, the landscape is explored through a backdrop of conflict between the creatures which intensifies as the plot progresses. With caricatures that bleed chaos in a form which looks like charcoal on paper, we are introduced to a meteor crash in the beginning of the book which sprouts life in Halahala. The tone of conflict is then set by showing large insect like creatures posing threat to small round creatures, which is further intensified in the panels that follow.

The carnage escalates to a life-threatening situation for the weak creatures and destabilizes the balance of life in Halahala. Seeking refuge, the tiny, weak creatures take refuge in caves, however, a volcanic eruption scares them even more., to seek guidance the creatures visit Tortle, the ancient wise tortoise who introduces them to a divine entity called God and blames the entire cataclysm on their mistreatment of each other. The plot is further explored through this idea, culminating in the creation of a God by the Tortle which is a human like a figure.

The conflict becomes metaphorical when a human called Ananthabanana enters the landscape and the weak creatures become extremely docile to him. Filled with pride, the creature starts acting like a god, kickstarting a Sisyphean era of lust for profits. The characters in the graphic novel and their incessant chase for profits, recognition, and pride is an allegorical representation of absurdities from everyday life.

The metamorphosis of wanderer into a god, and then of god into a corporation which infests everyone with its infectious motivation for profits, is shown through caricatures which look vicious and speak of a dystopian era. As a result, the entire story becomes a Kafkaesque graphical representation of chasing profits and makes one feel suffocated through artworks which reflect the same. Not clearly divided into a simple three-act structure, Moonward speaks through its exceptional artwork and metaphorical representation which is hauntingly similar to human ideas we deal with every day.


Dystopia is not shown is a destination in future but as an embodiment of ideas. Right from the panels which show weak creatures inventing and praying to new gods, Moonward is an imitation of human behaviour, its viciousness, and absurdity. Through panels and art which gives the reader a suffocating feel, the parasitic nature of human ideas of greed is explored, whereas the absurdity of belief and how power gives rise to sycophancy is explored in the later half of the novel. The symbolism in moonward is both- intrinsic to the storyline and hidden in the chaotic caricatures which are powerful enough to convey the meaning even without dialogue.

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