Title: The Caravan (English/Hindi)
Author: Shamik Dasgupta
Artists: Bikash Satpathy (pencils), Vishwanath Manokaran(colors) , Naval Thanawala (colors)
Hindi Translation: Swapni Singh, Vibhav Pandey
Publisher: Yali Dream Creations
No. of Pages: 88
For ages a coven of vampires travel the deserts of Rajasthan under the guise of a Caravan of Nautanki or a Gypsy Circus. They lure the unsuspecting villagers to invite them to perform and through the course of the night feed on every living soul. Their heinous deeds go undetected for years, possibly even centuries until a boy named Asif survives their attack.
Years later the boy grows up to be a smuggler across the border, and on afateful day he gets arrested. Jai, the custodian cop and Asif get stranded in the desert and find shelter in a fort run by border security force and their volatile and violent Officer in Charge, Daroga Bhairo Singh.
As night creeps forth, the caravan of vampires appear once again on the horizon. Asif becomes terrified and tries to warn them but no one believes him. Instead, mesmerized by the glamour of the Nautanki, they make the fatal mistake of inviting them to the fort. What follows is a night drenched in blood as the vampires begin their massacre. Asif has escaped the Caravan once, but can he pull off that impossible trick again?
Caravan explores the genre of horror/action/adventure, although in an entertaining and fun way. The story does not follow a very grim and gloomy tone, but it’s a mix of light and heavy elements. The lead character ‘Asif’, in-fact has a very goofy personality. He is a huge fan of movies and throw out quips every now and then, even in tensed situations. Another lead ‘Jay’ also shares an interesting personality and backstory and there is a great character development for both of the characters in the book. Through out the story you see a radical growth in their rapport and the writer has done a good job with its flow and depiction. For the record i read the hindi version of this book and another character i found interesting was Daroga Bhairo Singh, at times he act as a comic relief, the other times he is the most intense character in the story.
The book tries to create a lore of a group of vampires who go from one isolated group of people/village to another and make them their victim. The vampires disguise themselves in a gypsy circus in order to lure people. Like the weakness of silver and garlic, that vampires from Marvel’s Blade share, these vampires are also weak against..wood? They are also weakened by strong belief in any religious item. Its a fair story element that they are trying to blend with the genre, but can be improved in creativity with more issues.
The artstyle is fair, although not gritty and drenched with dark palettes like the classics such as ’30 Days Of Night’, it does suit the racy Gypsy angle they are trying to follow, especially with the girls drawn so well 😉 . The gypsy girls look on-spot but there is a good room for improvement for other characters.
Caravan explores the genre of horror/action/adventure. It has vampires as the long-standing adversaries and it is sprinkled with a lot of fun elements in an otherwise dark backdrop. If you are looking to pick something interesting and fresh from Indian comic book scenario, Caravan is a good place to start.
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