Sunday, 23 December 2012

Graphic Novel Reads: Kabul Disco by Nicolas Wild



Expatriate (Expat, in short)
n. a person who lives outside their native country. 

Kabul Disco is a humorous, irreverent and tongue-in-cheek account of a young French illustrator who, as a knee jerk reaction to financial penury and boredom, opts for an initial two-month stint as a comic book author in Afghanistan. The assignment - Co-write and illustrate a comic book version of the Afghan constitution. Target audience - The children of Afghanistan. The year is 2005 and apparently the war against terrorism is over. At least, that is what Wild presumes before arrival. The spirit of Kabul Disco is of the travelogue, caricature and anecdote. It can also be read as a comic artist's journal.'Comic Take' are two words that underline the treatment.

Expat is a much bandied word here. Apart from Wild, his colleagues and trio of bosses are all expats and make lively cameos. For them it is business as usual, as they try creating a mini France in a remote country. News of a kidnapping and suicide bombing bring home somber realizations. Even then, there are seldom any grim, reflective moments, so if you are looking for deep insight this isn't that book.

Kabul Disco is not a classic of its genre, it doesn't become something more than fun and breezy documentation. That is not a grouse, it is damn funny. Thumbs up for all the smiles it induces. Like all well-interpreted first-hand accounts, the illustrations and text illuminate with the glow of the writer 'having gone through it'. In other words - Experience. 

Endnote
The FICTION tag on the back cover seems appropriate. For as the photographs at the fag end of the book tell us, the whole thing pretty much occurred, except that Wild went and had fun with the real people and himself. We thank him for that.


(Article by Snehith Kumbla) 

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