Ack! They are Back!

I was the biggest Badmash comicstrip fangirl. Biggest. So it was with giddy excitement that I opened up my e-mail announcing a new Desi comicstrip hitting the interwebs by Badmash boy Sandeep Sood. ACK! (“Amar Chitra Katha”) is a “comic that places two bit characters from the Mahabharata into modern-day Jersey.” With a plot line like that, how can you not be just a wee bit curious? ACK-2-final-texture.jpg

See Issue 1 to Ack! right here. The comic strip is only two weeks in, so who really knows where the story can go from here. At this rate, just about anywhere. Who woulda thunk of Jersey-fiying the Mahabharata? What was Sandeep thinking?

I first learned about Hinduism through comic books…So, like a good, inclusive Hindu, I allowed these stories to merge with the other epics I followed on Saturday mornings and then recreated during the week. > Rama and He-man would partner to retake the Castle Greyskull. Hanuman would respond to the Thundercat signal, and Optimus Prime would rescue Sita from Ravana’s castle just before Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing blew it to smithereens. And the princesses! The princesses were hot as shit.[ack]

Interesting. I was more of a Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, and Rainbow Brite type of a cartoon watcher. That fusion would have looked far more different had it been my kind of fusion. And of course, my religion doesn’t really mesh well with cartoons. Keep an eye on Ack! – with Sandeep at the helm, Ack! has the potential to be pretty awesome, almost as awesome as Savita Bhabi. What do you think? Is this new comic strip a hit or miss?

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About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

15 thoughts on “Ack! They are Back!

  1. Love it, but I don’t see it gaining a wide audience in the US or Canada. Savita could, though, for obvious reasons.

    If Sood could incorporate the Sopranos into this Jersey work, it would be sincerely awesome.

  2. If Sood could incorporate the Sopranos into this Jersey work, it would be sincerely awesome

    .

    Yama as out of town hit man would be awesome. In the real series there were sprinklings of Indic thought….when Tony was recovering from being shot by his uncle his room mate was and old physicist spouting quantum Chopra-isms. Also in one of his dreams when he doesn’t know who he is some Tibetan Buddhist monks in the US take him to task over some unpaid bill (karma?). Also in that earlier episode Tony enters an altered state of consciousness after an Indian dinner gone wrong, this clearly is an allusion to the soma ritual

  3. In the real series there were sprinklings of Indic thought….

    Yes! His sister Janice was a pop-new ager who renamed herself Parvathi. That cracked me up. And there was that bit of (hatha) yoga where Janice met that excon.

  4. This is insane. This is awesome. This is insanely awesome.

    I hope there is space for Rama, Laxmana, and Hanuman to form a progressive-rock power trio. HAIR BAND!!!!

  5. I have a problem with this – it is actually something I had been thinking about in the recent past.

    I grew up in India and during my high school days, comedy skits on the ‘modern’ Ramayana and Mahabharata were the norm. We had this at almost every inter and intra high school event. The main humor supposedly came from having the avatars and other revered characters do the inane ‘modern’ things. I, by the way, went to an ‘elite’ high school run by Roman Catholics – but the school’s student population was at least 75% Hindu. It occurred to me that one could perform these skits and parodies based on Hindu characters, but nothing could be based on Christian or Muslim characters – that was off limits.

    So I thought that the non-Hindus should have shown some sensitivity to this issue then – the school was after all run by Christians. They should have deemed inappropriate what they wouldn’t tolerate/accept towards their own religion. One could also argue that the Hindus should have been the ones to object to this first. Then again, I am completely put off by the extreme reactions we see from Muslims to any perceived negative depictions of their religion.

    @Taz – I see you threw in a quick allusion to Islam not meshing well with cartoons :-) , but what is your view on this? Is the tolerance of Christianity (in the west), Judaism and Hinduism to comedic references a sign of the respective religion’s strength or weakness? And if one is offended by comedic depictions of their own religion, should they extend the same sentiment to other religions?

    I know this topic was meant to be in light vein – but, as mentioned, I had been thinking about this very recently. So thought I’d put it out there.

  6. @daalDracula Thanks for your thoughtful comment. In my view, the strength of a religious philosophy is partly based on its ability to take satire with a smile.

    That said, I share your frustration. It does seem societally more acceptable to make fun of Hinduism than Islam or Christianity (the same way it’s still okay to make fun of Indian people in ways that would bring outrage from other cultures…hey Metro PCS, fuck you).

    But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it anyway. Rather than look at what got a pass at either of our primary schools, I look to satirists I admire (Trey Parker/Matt Stone of South Park, Monty Python, Salman Rushdie, etc.). They’re throwing their best stuff at the religions they were born into; I’d like to throw my best stuff at mine (even if it’ll never be half as good!).

  7. Is the tolerance of Christianity (in the west), Judaism and Hinduism to comedic references a sign of the respective religion’s strength or weakness?

    Well I wanna be clear about one thing – comic and comedic don’t go hand in hand. Any hard core comic con frequenting person would say that the proper term isn’t “comic book” but “graphic novel” …

    What I think is great about how Sandeep decided to approach Ack is the clearly fusion intent. He’s an American kid watching kid cartoons that was raised with stories Mahabharata.

    I don’t think the question you are asking is really appropriate or makes any sense. It implies that anything “comic” is comedic and thereby a joke. Whereas I think comic = graphic novel = graphic visual art. And a form of story telling. It is simply using the form of art as a means of storytelling – Sandeep in Ack is clearly telling his interpretation of how he views a religion he deeply cares about – there’s nothing disrespectful going on.

    If you dig a little deeper, even if you go to Comic Con, I bet you don’t have to dig very far to find “respectful” graphic novels honoring religions – Christian Comic Books here and Jews in Comic Books. I think using graphic arts as a way of connecting to an audience is great, if done respectfully and with no malicious intent.

    As for Muslim comic tales – there’s a new comic series called “The 99″ (think Captain Planet for Muslims), and hijabi woman G. Willow Wilson has put out several graphic novels with a Muslim tinge. There’s also Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

    We’ve discussed this on SM plenty of time before, too. Go to our archives on Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues. Follow the thread. You’ll find the debate you are looking for.

  8. Monty Python’s “Every Sperm Is Sacred” satire of Catholicism.

    Sandeep, you’re following in a great tradition. More power to you.

  9. It occurred to me that one could perform these skits and parodies based on Hindu characters, but nothing could be based on Christian or Muslim characters – that was off limits. This could simply be because Christians and Muslims were minorities in the context and if nothing else, jokes about the story of Job may not necessarily be understood by most people. Christianity for one is full of satire as others have indicated.

    So I thought that the non-Hindus should have shown some sensitivity to this issue then – the school was after all run by Christians. They should have deemed inappropriate what they wouldn’t tolerate/accept towards their own religion. One could also argue that the Hindus should have been the ones to object to this first. Then again, I am completely put off by the extreme reactions we see from Muslims to any perceived negative depictions of their religion.

    I think the word “They” in “They should have deemed…” is somewhat inappropriate. We do not need to bunch together diverse people with different views on humour just because they all follow, or don’t follow the same religion. If some idiot who follows my religion gets offended based on some cartoon, that should not bar me from disagreeing with him and from drawing cartoons. I am personally happy to allow someone else their freedom of speech, and would not give up mine just because someone who I can be bunched together with is offended by something. I am a Hindu, but would not like to bunched together with the likes of the junior and senior Thackereys, and similarly I would not prescribe behaviour for all muslims/christians based on the behaviour of some.

    In general, I don’t think too much tolerance is one of the problems afflicting Hinduism, and India at the moment. Being offended by something, and having a problem with it/objecting to it/shutting it down by force are different things. I may get offended by Durga on someone’s bikini, and I would react to that by not buying it and ignoring it. Similarly, I may get offended by pornographic movies, and I would react to that by not watching them. I may even personally disapprove of the people involved in productions of these. But I don’t see myself objecting to other people consuming these objects.

  10. I honestly can’t believe we’re even discussing comedy in the context of Hinduism. Indians (who are the majority of Hindus) probably have the best sense of humor out of any religious group. Although the Christians in America do put up with quite a bit.

  11. Alright thats it for religious/ comic intellects. Take your discussion to some other page, start a blog, do whatever.

    This page is for comics, keep em coming :)