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Sinister Bengalis in comics

From The Dreaming no. 52, by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Vertigo


About Samit Basu

Novelist. Best known for fantasy and science fiction work. Most recently, The City Inside (Tordotcom)/Chosen Spirits (Simon and Schuster)


12 thoughts on “Sinister Bengalis in comics

  1. Ok, when did Calcutta and Bangkok become twin cities?

    Posted by thalassa_mikra | October 5, 2005, 4:36 pm
  2. About the same time we all started speaking in Hindu, the language the Indian types in this comic speak. It’s also got Buddhist monks with Hindu names, beards, guns and Kali idols.

    Research takes a long time, and the writer clearly didnt think anyone in India would ever read it.

    Posted by samit | October 5, 2005, 6:44 pm
  3. People of the calibre of Garth Ennis have screwed it up, while Mark Millar just about managed in Ultimate X-Men.

    And yet, Bill Willingham managed to write a fantastic Mowgli in the ongoing arc of Fables. It doesn’t take that much time, really.

    Posted by Gamesmaster G9 | October 5, 2005, 9:07 pm
  4. or maybe they’re just lazy.. u kno bout the reserch part.

    Posted by #3tiYo>B_shyo> | October 5, 2005, 9:39 pm
  5. well, even gaiman and pratchett get indian stuff wrong. i remember something being alluded to in Good Omens as ‘the Shiv of Kali’ and there was some small inconsistency in the Indian bits of American gods as well…theres also something vaguely wrong about Kali in Worlds End, i forget what.
    i was reading Premendra Mitra recently and was most impressed by the research that must have gone into the creation of his faraway places. many many years before the net made writing research so much easier.
    obviously it would be far better if they got it right all the time, but i guess its just such an alien place for them to be in, and the characters are so minor anyway, that its excusable. some of the myth research resources on the net are fairly dicey as well, which could be the main reason for this. itll get better as time passes and the world becomes even flatter.
    still not the best way to hook your indian readers…but indian readers are still a very tiny part of the great big picture.

    Posted by samit | October 6, 2005, 4:20 am
  6. my new blog’s here: http://myownfairystories.blogspot.com/ be nice and visit twice everyday.

    and if you do, i don’t care if you delete this as irrelevant 😀

    Posted by rimi | October 6, 2005, 3:41 pm
  7. I say bless Herge for being ever so meticulous. Even though he deals with so many different locations around the world, he manages to come out fairly accurate with most of them. Perhaps he employed a kickass fact-checker. Do check out the Tintin website for the section on Herge’s attention to details. Pure genius!

    Posted by thalassa_mikra | October 6, 2005, 9:00 pm
  8. Not always, Swati – see Tintin au Congo, for an example of how NOT to draw people of other cultures.

    Posted by Gamesmaster G9 | October 6, 2005, 9:40 pm
  9. well, i guess you can use the ‘colonial attitude at the time’ defence there. like they do for tolkien. its a pretty sad defence, but it must be taken into consideration, i think.

    Posted by samit | October 7, 2005, 2:43 am
  10. oh yes – tintin au congo was just unbelievably horrible. i have not quite been able to read tintin with as much enthusiasm since then.
    and if i even get started with non-graphic novels that make a hash of india or any other such country for that matter…

    Posted by Teleute | October 7, 2005, 12:30 pm
  11. Samit, Ani, Let me confess that I haven’t read Tintin au Congo, and what I’ve heard about it isn’t very inspiring. The weak defense is that it was his very first book, written in a Belgium that embraced its colonial role with relish. As far as I know, he hadn’t travelled to Congo, so most of his information was second hand.

    I’m not attempting a defence at all, simply stating that in his later books I do not see the sort of colonialist patronizing that he’s been accused of in Tintin au Congo.

    Posted by thalassa_mikra | October 10, 2005, 8:09 am
  12. oh please. tintin is enchanting, yes, but read for example tintin and the picaros and tintin in america… if herge’s attitude to the Picaros and the Blackfeet is not that of colonialist patronizing, then what is?

    Posted by Teleute | October 13, 2005, 4:42 am

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Copyright (c) Samit Basu. Images copyright respective holders.
October 2005


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