Graphic Novel

The Beginnings (English)
The Beginnings (Malayalam)

First Graphic Novel

First Malayalam Graphic NovelSimply put, there has not been a single Malayalam Graphic Novel written before, and the Malayalam version of The Beginnings that appeared in our blog "KeralaComics" in 2007, and later in this website, from 2008 is the First ever Malayalam Graphic Novel that has been published anywhere and seen by the public.

We were once asked by the editor of a leading Kerala daily to submit proof that no one has written a Graphic Novel in Malayalam before. We just thought both Edmund Hillary and Neil Armstrong were lucky because they didn't have to deal with this particular editor. Common sense, anyone?!

While we are not getting into the debate of what is a Graphic Novel (too boring) and what is the difference between a Graphic Novel and a comic strip (too foolish), we are dismayed by how people do not listen to sanity when we are trying to have a simple discussion, based on facts.

Ever since we went public with the "First Malayalam Graphic Novel" tag, there have been several attacks from certain corners that G. Aravindan's 'Cheriya Manushyarum, Valiya Lokavum' (Small People, Big World) is the first one, not ours. Over the years we have tried to engage these critics, and people-with-blogs, and no one has come forward to have a discussion on this matter, most probably because they know they don't have any real answers. Here is an excerpt from WIKI. (Again, posted by a non-Malayalee, citing a blog as proof!)
Wrong WIKI

We have pointed out that, if 'Cheriya Manushyarum, Valiya Lokavum' which appeared first in 1961 is indeed a Graphic Novel, and not just a comic strip, call it the first Malayalam Graphic Novel. But, just don't stop there. Call it the first Indian Graphic Novel. Officially, India’s first graphic novel is Sarnath Banerjee’s Corridor published from New Delhi by Penguin in 2004. At this point, the critics and the people-with-blogs will start grumbling. Then we tell them: Please also call it the first Graphic Novel in the world. According to TIME, Will Eisner's "A Contract with God," published in 1978, gets the credit for being the first graphic novel. However, the term "Graphic Novel" appeared in print two years before that, in connection with three separate works - Bloodstar by Richard Corben, George Metzger's Beyond Time and Again, and digest-sized Chandler: Red Tide by Jim Steranko - all of which came out in 1976.

Aravindan's Small Men and the Big World - A serial cartoon published in the last page of Malayalam weekly, Mathrubhumi in the 1960s and 70s.
So you are saying a Graphic Novel was published right here in Kerala, in 1961, a full 17 years before the "First Graphic Novel in the World". Then why don't you do something about it? We would be happy to see G. Aravindan get credit for the first Graphic Novel in the world. It is at this point that the grumbling reaches a crescendo, and they all get up and leave. They go back home and then again start writing - in WIKI, in blogs, and wherever they could - that 'Cheriya Manushyarum, Valiya Lokavum' is the first Malayalam Graphic Novel. Déjà vu!

Their PROOF?! E.P. Unny, editorial cartoonist with the New Indian Express, once wrote: Cheriya Manushyarum, Valiya Lokavum is the closest we got to a graphic novel. A true forerunner in the 60s and 70s. It certainly wasn't a pre-set novel, in terms of having a worked-out plot. What gave it the extra dimension are the ageing characters and all that went with it. The gradual shift in their relationships and changes in their lifestyle - suggesting a real life parallel. For the first time the Malayali reader sensed time in a cartoon strip.

You can see clearly that he DIDN'T label Aravindan's work as a 'graphic novel'.
  • "Cheriya Manushyarum, Valiya Lokavum is the closest we got to a graphic novel." 'Closest' is not the same as 'IS'.
  • "It certainly wasn't a pre-set novel, in terms of having a worked-out plot."
  • "For the first time the Malayali reader sensed time in a cartoon strip." A cartoon strip was what it was - just like Bobanum Moliyum, or Appoos, or Kapish.
If you start calling every comic strip you have seen so far Graphic Novels, we don't have anything else to say to you.

The article Some comic relief for the aam aadmi that appeared in Hindustan Times on Jan 23, 2010 says, The Internet, too, has done its bit for the medium. An online comic — The Beginnings by Nishanth, claimed to be the ‘first Malayalam graphic novel’ — is based on a real story set in the 1990s. It uses simple black-and-white sketches to follow a young man who falls in love and gets entangled in the murder of a young nun.

Hindustan Times article on The Beginnings by Nishanth

We want to reiterate the fact again - The Beginnings by Nishanth - available in it's original Malayalam version in this website, is the FIRST EVER PUBLISHED MALAYALAM GRAPHIC NOVEL. If you know of any other Malayalam Graphic Novels printed/published before 2007, please let us know. And, don't include comic or cartoon strips - even if they were collected together and printed as books - as Graphic Novels.

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First Malayalam Graphic Novel & First FREE Indian Graphic Novel online