An image from the book
An image from the book

What would think of a book that has only illustrations and is a silent book? Well there are two ways to look at it. One what can I make of a book that has no text or here is a book that transcends the barriers of language. And who better than author of Summer’s Children Anpu Varkey to take us on a trip about childhood nostalgia.

Art in her heart

Anpu grew up in Bangalore and completed her Bachelors and Masters of Fine arts from the MS University Baroda and Byam Shaw School of Art London respectively. Being a painter, muralist and comic artist, Anpu had her first solo show in 2008 in NYC. A renowned street artist, she had her first tryst with street art when she was living in Bremen, Germany. Since 2011 she has worked on many public art murals and has also co-organized many street art festivals in India. She self-published her first graphic book Jaba in 2014 chronicling a day in the life of her companion cat and has now released her second book Summer’s Children. “Art expels and creates its value and the brain simulates it to a happy quotient. I have been extremely fortunate to have worked all over the country in the last decade. The work is incongruous, I do not have a compliant theme I work with, I adapt the murals to the surroundings, it’s location, the people who live by it, all these factors in how I plan to make a mural. The long-drawn hours of working in the sun can be exhausting, dehydration and the lack of proper sanitation facilities makes it less pleasant.”

Anpu Varkey
Anpu Varkey

Memories and more

Summer’s Children her silent book is a story that is set in the interiors of a rubber plantation in Kerala and is a silent narrative of a summer day seen through the eyes of two siblings. The representation is of a deep tropical habitation during the onset of monsoons with sounds that pulsate the ground and sky alike. As the book has no text, I asked her if she was concerned about and she replies that more than her it was the publishers who were. “When I was reaching out to different publishers, they did show concerns over not finding a market for such a comic. I was not too concerned, in fact this book breaches language barriers and does not have to be translated at all, it can be read by anybody across the world.”

The book was three years in the making and uses the pointillistic technique. “It was an arduous and at times very grueling process, having to work over eight hours making dots on an A3 size paper. It was so deeply ingrained that I would dream of dots filling a page, also the book is 100 pages in all. By using pointillism, I tried to capture faded memories which exudes the feeling a sepia tinted film, also old films are grainy and, in many ways, so are our memories, this style helped evoke it best.”

Book cover
Book cover

Eventually she also self-published this book, after it was rejected by many publishing houses. “It feels quite good, you realize the task is not going to be easy, but your persistence to do it regardless, manifests abundantly. It is easier to draw the comic than to envision a book, I had to take help on multiple levels from designing the book, to envisioning the right size and paper, every detail from front cover to back cover, getting an ISBN number, finding the right printers, who wouldn’t look at it like any other task to finish, had to be dealt with. It took two years to drawn and another year to finish with the printing. This required a different set of skills, something I was not used to, but now I am equipped to undertake any tasks within this realm.”

Looking ahead she says she wants to make murals and make more comics.

More Silent Books

• Small in the City By Sydney Smith

• I Got It! By David Wiesner

• The Fisherman and the Whale By Jessica Lanan

• Red Again By Barbara Lehman

• Little Fox in the Forest By Stephanie Graegin

• The Whale By Ethan Murrow

• Quest By Aaron Becker

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