graphic novels

Five biographies in graphic novel form that you must read

Each of these books is a remarkable blend of history, character study and creative art.

Growing up in the 1990s, a significant chunk of my time as a child was devoted to Amar Chitra Katha comics, especially their biographical series. I now realise that these beloved childhood relics were, in some cases, hagiographies. In others, they were representative of the Hindutva brand of politics. But at the time, they were simply hours and hours of binge-reading.

ACK, with its talented pool of artists, whittled a story down to its essence, capturing historical moments with admirable ease. Comics are, without doubt, an extremely efficient way of summarising a lifetime. Here are five biographical comics that are well worth your time and money, in no particular order of preference (for the purposes of this article, autobiographies are not included).

Louis Riel (2003), Chester Brown



This book should be required reading for comics practitioners as well as fans, simply for the way it balances scholarly precision (it’s a rare graphic novel that boasts of a full bibliography, appendices and extensive endnotes) and cinematic verve. Chester Brown is a Canadian artist whose work (most recently, the incendiary memoir Paying for It) takes some time to warm up to: his style isn’t extravagant and doesn’t really leap off the page.

But persist for a dozen pages or so and you’ll realise the subtlety of his art; his exceptional paneling sense in particular. Riel, the subject of this book, was a 19th century separatist leader of the Métis people (native to the Canadian prairies) who was eventually executed by the newly formed Canadian government in 1885.

Houdini: The Handcuff King (2007), Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi (illustrator)



It’s difficult to imagine a more fascinating biographical subject than Harry Houdini, the most famous escape artist of all time. Houdini’s story has already inspired several films, songs and books, most notably the Pulitzer-winning novel The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

This graphic novel  does well to cover all the major checkpoints: the young Houdini’s struggles with immigration and anti-Semitism, the first, hesitant shows with handcuffs, the confident later-career skewering of fake mediums and clairvoyants and of course, the final, tragic chapter of his life. The book is written by Lutes, one of the modern-day comics greats, known for his epic ongoing series Berlin. But surprisingly, he did not contribute to the art here: that job went to Nick Bertozzi, who maintains a nice balance between showboating caricature and gritty realism.

Logicomix (2009), Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos (illustrator) and Annie Di Donna (illustrator)



Logicomix may very well be the most unique comics collaboration of all time: it took a writer (Doxiadis), an illustrator (Papadatos), an animator (Di Donna) and a computer science professor (Papadimitriou) to pull off this singular storytelling feat. Papadimitriou was brought on board because the story being told was that of philosopher-mathematician Bertrand Russell and his monomaniacal quest to formulate a logically airtight “foundation” theorem that would unify all of mathematics.

Russell worked like a fiend and had eccentricities by the dozen; the book presents a faithful picture of what this did to his personal life. The story also boasts of a dazzling support cast, chock-full of geniuses whom Russell sought out during the course of his work: Gottlob Frege, David Hilbert, Kurt Gödel and of course, Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian prodigy whom Russell took under his wing.

Trotsky: A Graphic Biography (2009), Rick Geary



Leon Trotsky, one of the seven members of the original Bolshevik Politburo, was one of the most influential men of the 20th century. His ideas on Marxism were a direct rebuttal to Stalin’s policies and ultimately, Stalin decided that he was too dangerous to live and had him assassinated by Soviet agent Ramon Mercader.

Trotsky’s eventful life, which included a brief, tempestuous affair with iconic artist Frida Kahlo (the companion of his once-comrade Diego Rivera), has been captured beautifully by artist Rick Geary. This book is part of a very enjoyable series of graphic biographies: you would be well-advised to pick up the other titles on the roster as well; Abraham Lincoln, J. Edgar Hoover, Amelia Earhart and many others.

Gandhi (2013), Jason Quinn and Sachin Nagar (illustrator)



The only Indian title on this list, Gandhi is a throwback of sorts: its colour scheme and illustration style reminds you of NBT (Nehru Book Trust) children’s books of the 1990s, with their dreamy watercolours and their sharp, clean outlines. For me, the most impressive achievement of Gandhi is the way it handles the Mahatma’s childhood: his failures, his immaturity and his sometimes over-the-top piousness are shown for what they are. And yet, the book remains deeply reverential of the man and also throws in some wry humour for good measure: an encounter with King George V is especially well done.

Gandhi may not have as many memorable one-liners as some of the other books on this list, but its quiet, understated style grows on you. The fact that it is gorgeously produced and priced competitively (Rs 399 is not a lot by graphic novel standards) doesn’t hurt either.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Top picks, best deals and all that you need to know for the Amazon Great Indian Festival

We’ve done the hard work so you can get right to what you want amongst the 40,000+ offers across 4 days.

The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:

Make use of the Amazon trio – Amazon Prime, Amazon Pay and Amazon app

Though the festival officially starts on 21st, Amazon Prime members will have early access starting at 12 noon on 20th September itself, enabling them to grab the best deals first. Sign up for an Amazon Prime account to not miss out on exclusive deals and products. Throughout the festival, Prime members will 30-minute early access to top deals before non-Prime members. At Rs 499/- a year, the Prime membership also brings unlimited Amazon Prime video streaming and quick delivery benefits.

Load your Amazon pay wallet; there’s assured 10% cashback (up to Rs 500). Amazon will also offer incremental cashbacks over and above bank cashbacks on select brands as a part of its Amazon Pay Offers. Shopping from the app would bring to you a whole world of benefits not available to non-app shoppers. App-only deals include flat Rs 1,250 off on hotels on shopping for more than Rs 500, and flat Rs 1,000 off on flights on a roundtrip booking of Rs 5,000 booking from Yatra. Ten lucky shoppers can also win one year of free travel worth Rs 1.5 lakhs.

Plan your shopping

The Great Indian Sale has a wide range of products, offers, flash sales and lightning deals. To make sure you don’t miss out on the best deals, or lose your mind, plan first. Make a list of things you really need or have been putting off buying. If you plan to buy electronics or appliances, do your research on the specs and shortlist the models or features you prefer. Even better, add them to your wishlist so you’re better able to track your preferred products.

Track the deals

There will be lightning deals and golden hour deals throughout the festival period. Keep track to avail the best of them. Golden-hour deals will be active on the Amazon app from 9.00pm-12.00am, while Prime users will have access to exclusive lightning deals. For example, Prime-only flash sales for Redmi 4 will start at 2.00pm and Redmi 4A at 6.00pm on 20th, while Nokia 6 will be available at Rs 1,000 off. There will be BOGO Offers (Buy One Get One free) and Bundle Offers (helping customers convert their TVs to Smart TVs at a fraction of the cost by using Fire TV Stick). Expect exclusive product launches from brands like Xiaomi (Mi Band 2 HRX 32 GB), HP (HP Sprocket Printer) and other launches from Samsung and Apple. The Half-Price Electronics Store (minimum 50% off) and stores offering minimum Rs 15,000 off will allow deal seekers to discover the top discounts.

Big discounts and top picks

The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.

Home Appliances

Our top picks for washing machines are Haier 5.8 Kg Fully Automatic Top Loading at 32% off, and Bosch Fully Automatic Front Loading 6 Kg and 7 Kg, both available at 27% discount. Morphy Richards 20 L Microwave Oven will be available at a discount of 38%.

Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.

There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.

Personal Electronics

There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are Lenovo Tab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch.

If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.

Power banks always come in handy. Check out the Lenovo 13000 mAh power bank at 30% off.

Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.

The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.

The Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire Stick

For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.

The sale will see great discounts of up to 60% off on headphones and speakers from the top brands. The 40% off on Bose QC 25 Headphones is our favourite. Top deals are on Logitech speakers with Logitech Z506 Surround Sound 5.1 multimedia Speakers at 60% off and Logitech X300 Bluetooth Speaker at 58% off!

Other noteworthy deals

Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.

For home medical supplies and equipment, keep an eye on the grooming and personal care section. Weighing scales, blood pressure monitors, glucometers, body fat monitors etc. will be available at a cheaper price.

The sale is also a good time to invest in home and kitchen supplies. Mixer-grinders and juicers could see lightning deals. Don’t ignore essentials like floor mops with wheels, rotating mop replacements, utensils, crockery etc. Tupperware sets, for example, will be more affordable. There are attractive discounts on bags, especially laptop bags, backpacks, diaper bags and luggage carriers.

Interesting finds

While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!

Small shopping

If you have children, the festival is good time to stock up on gifts for Diwali, Christmas, return gifts etc. On offer are gaming gadgets such as Xbox, dough sets, Touching Tom Cat, Barbies, classic board games such as Life and more. There are also some products that you don’t really need, but kind of do too, such as smartphone and tablet holders, magnetic car mounts for smartphones and mobile charging station wall stands. If you’re looking for enhanced functionality in daily life, do take a look at the Amazon Basics page. On it you’ll find USB cables, kitchen shears, HDMI cables, notebooks, travel cases and other useful things you don’t realise you need.

Check-out process and payment options

Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.

Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon.in and not by the Scroll editorial team.