'I'm not just sitting and dreaming!'

'I'm not just sitting and dreaming!'

It’s a blurry line between reality and dreams, a line that is repeatedly twined and intertwined by Appupen (George Mathen) in his latest offering ‘Aspyrus’ (A Dream of Halahala).

Making his second attempt at the silent graphic novel format, the creator of ‘Legends of Halahala’ and ‘Moonward’ seems to have chanced upon some intriguing creatures of the mind that have shaped up in the 224 pages of the book.

“The essence of the book is a story carried forward from ‘Moonward’ which the previous publishers told me to keep out. The seed of Aspyrus is a dreamer and his dream taking over the world. Aspyrus is just a name for a creature that looks like a dragon because dragons are ‘cool’ now.

It’s written in three acts – Act I is a flow of images that reveals the dream while Act II shows the dream’s effect on the world. The dream is the birth and childhood of a little girl, who gains prominence in Act III where the world changes,” reveals Appupen.

He states that the dream world in ‘Aspyrus’ draws parallels from the real world. “There are parallels because I’m not just sitting and dreaming! As an artist, all I can do is comment on the state of affairs and show what side I’m on.”

Attempting a graphic novel with little or no dialogues was not an easy task. “But people will look for more details now,” he says.

“I wasn’t trying to make it silent. It just so happens that I draw my thumbnails when I’m working on an idea and put it down as pictures instead of words. It’s more challenging for me to put words but I prefer it because it makes you much more expressive as a creator.”

He adds that he found inspiration in the works of American artist Lynd Ward, known for his wordless novels using wood engraving. “The silent trip got more enforced in my head after reading his books.”

One glimpse at ‘Aspyrus’ and anyone who has read him will draw connections to previous works.

Characters reappear and disappear, the ad world he was once part of and now detests is frequently mocked and references range from ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Watchmen’ to ‘My Little Pony’. But does he constantly want this cross-referencing? “The readers can look back at the other books or not; that’s up to them. But I’m not deliberately looking for connections.

Connections happen through brands, places and little creatures I’ve created that keep repeating themselves,” explains Appupen, who sees himself more as a storyteller than artist.

“My eye is probably good, with or without my spectacles. But the hand is not there yet because I studied commerce, not art,” he jokes.

So does a man as wildly imaginative as him know how his brain works?

“If I crack that, I’d lose it. I look at things, watch a lot of animation and read comics obsessively. The idea isn’t to copy but see the level of craziness in others’ works and try to match that,” he wraps up with a grin.

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