Many Comic Book Ramayanas: Idealizing and Opposing Rama as the Righteous God-King
Contribution to Book
Comics and Sacred Texts: Reimagining Religion and Graphic Narratives
Assaf Gamzou, Kenneth Koltun-Fromm
University Press of Mississippi
This chapter focuses on the multivocal nature of the Ramayana epic in Indian graphic narratives from the 1970s to the present. There is now a wealth of comic book and graphic novel retellings of the Ramayana that have either been created in India or by Indians living throughout the global Indian diaspora, including: “Rama” and “Valmiki’s Ramayana” in the Amar Chitra Katha comic book series; the multi-issue “The Ramayana” line in the Dreamland Publications comic book series; the “Godavari Tales” issue in the Vivalok Comics series; the “Ramayan 3392 A.D.” line in the Liquid Comics (formerly Virgin Comics) series; the “Sita” and “Ravana” comics in the Campfire Mythology comic book series; the graphic novel Sita’s Ramayana by Samhita Arni and Moyna Chitrakar; and the graphic novel Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel. Scholars have critically examined the Ramayana in a variety of popular media, from television to film to street theatre, but no one has yet done an in-depth examination of the Ramayana in graphic narratives. While Indian comics collectively present a spectrum of opinions about the god-king Rama and his moral idealism, there are two dominant narrative trends that arise in these graphic retellings of his story. The first trend is to uphold Rama as the ideal god-king by presenting Rama as the clear hero of the epic story both textually and visually, and by providing an apologetic defense of any of his deeds that could potentially be perceived as morally questionable. The second trend is to critique Rama as the ideal god-king by focusing the textual and visual narrative on other protagonists within the epic storyline, and thereby engage in a critical examination of Rama through feminist and/or subaltern perspectives.
McLain, Karline, "Many Comic Book Ramayanas: Idealizing and Opposing Rama as the Righteous God-King" (2018). Faculty Contributions to Books. 235.