Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Indies I have read: Harijan

I have been reading comics since before recorded history began, before the Dawn of Time. (To be sure, I mark the beginning of recorded history with FF #1 and Dawn of Time with Amazing Fantasy #15). I love funnybooks, they are my favorite form of entertainment. Nothing beats a full day of reading comics, excepts perhaps spending the day with my funnybook friends.

Most of what I’ve read over the years have been mainstream, newsstand-level comics. However I have read more than my fair share of underground, ground-level, self-published, and independent comics. Whenever possible, I try to support and sample Indie comics because well, not everyone is going to be able to work for Marvel or DC (point in fact, not everyone even wants to work for Marvel or DC). Needless to say, over the years I have acquired some very cool contacts in the Indie comics world, and have thus acquired quite a number of Indie comics.

A short time back a fellow comics creator sent me the first three issues of his self-published comic, Harijan. According to writer/artist, Nicholas P. Myers, Harijan is a noun that is of Indian origin.

Harijan [children of God], in India, individuals who are at the bottom of or outside the Hindu caste system. They were traditionally sweepers, washers of clothes, leather workers, and those whose occupation it was to kill animals. The term is also sometimes applied to the hill tribes of India, who are considered unclean by some because they eat beef. Originally called untouchables or pariahs, they were given the name Harijans by the Indian political and religious leader Mahatma Gandhi, who worked for many years to improve their lives.

Well, Nicholas has adapted that term for the individuals who populate his world. they are a group of outcasts who live below the radar of the futuristic society in which they exist. The story of his comic follows the lives of these discarded individuals as they attempt to eke out their meager existence in a world that has no use for them other than cannon fodder. These first three issues follow David, Virgil, Samme, and Abendig.

As we are introduces to the Harijan, they are testing their mettle against some sort of creature that is stalking them in the low-lying parts of the city. It is there that they meet up with some unnamed girl that they rescue from the creature and bring with them back to their place. Unfortunately the girl has some sort of psionic powers and when she is unconscious it activates by animating objects around her to attack the Harijan. When she eventually wakes she realizes that they were attempting to help her. it is at this point that and Virgil’s sister Tansy shows up and attempts to kill them all. We learn a little bit about Virgil and Tansy’s past as well as a bit about the people who own the creature that was stalking Virgil.

I have to say that right off the bat the story is interesting, and the art is improving every issue. The lettering is interesting and I mention that up front because — for the most part — all comicbook lettering looks the same, and this style is just so eclectic that it immediately caught my attention and helped set the tone for the story. I'm intrigued by the concept of the Harijan themselves who live outside the norms of the greater society (either by choice or as cast-offs), and I especially like the fact that Nicholas has gone out of his way to craft his story out of an existing societal structure.

He gives us an interesting family structure of a group of individuals who chose to live with each other rather than are required to live with each other, and in the space of three short issues has made us care about them. His pacing and story structure are fine, and it looks as if he is actually going someplace with all of this. Personally, I’m willing to go along for the ride, as he has demonstrated that he is interested in using the medium to tell me a story that I haven’t already read someplace else or isn’t merely a knockoff of some other mainstream comic.

Yes, Harijan looks interesting, and I hope that Nicholas gets to tell the tale that he has started.

Nicholas is part of a group of creators called Cadre Corners who publish some other comics. I suggest that you contack Nicholas and tell him that you want to see what cool stuff he is doing.


Tommy said...

This sounds very intriguing. I'll probably look into this more.

Nicholas said...

Please do. ;)