Wow. It’s not just that it’s three hundred pages, but that it’s three hundred gorgeous pages. Three hundred gorgeous pages, all of them written and illustrated by one person, Indian artist Abhishek Singh. It comes as no surprise, then, that Krishna: A Journey Within was a four year endeavor, an exercise in perseverance and sacrifice, but also in love and bliss.
Singh‘s take on the life of Krishna, the eighth avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, draws heavily from the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata, and, mainly, the Bhagavad Gita. Educational in the tenets of Hinduism and Indian mythology, it also serves as a beautifully simple breakdown of Eastern philosophy as a whole, and without derision, of the fundamental divide between Eastern and Western thought. Krishna’s journey is universally human. Though divine, he is susceptible to folly and illusion, but also love, hope, and discovery. He finds comfort in the Dharma, and in the interconnectedness and delicate balance of the universe.
This book is Image Comics’ first foray into Indian mythology and Singh’s artistic and religious background make him a rightful ambassador. He did the art for Deepak Chopra’s Virgin Comics’ Ramayan Reborn and Kali books, as well. Here, Singh employs much variety in style and tone, depending on scene and setting, but maintains a holistic approach throughout. Each two page spread is treated as a composition in itself. The panels work together to maintain a unity and balance, aesthetically pleasing, but also reflective of the philosophy contained within. Loose and poetic, his line work complements the story in content and delivery. And his coloring is breathtaking.
It is surprising that Image went with a paperback cover and glossy finish. This book should be heavy. Consequential. But, it is priced accordingly. At only thirty dollars, it’s quite a steal. Perhaps the tradeoff, then, accessibility over posterity, is better in the utilitarian sense.