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“FML Comics Collected” Is An Intimate Diachronic Experience

FML Comics Collected is an intimate journey across Natasha Natarajan’s life and her evolution as an artist. The comic provides a glimpse into her current lifepath. Her work is genuine; it entertains with humour and shows us how this combines with drama to make a more enjoyable reading experience. Readers can also watch closely the human experience through her work; validating the idea that beyond one’s existence, we are all connected. Through this medium, Natarajan allows us to participate in her questions about life without necessarily having to find answers. It is a work in progress; after all, artists like Natarajan bring their work into this world with candour.

They do this to engage with their nature, diving deep into their experiences and figuring out their journey along the way. Poets, songwriters, wordsmiths, artisans, illustrators, comic artists; in FML Comics and throughout her work, Natarajan falls within each of these aspects of the creativity spectrum. It is about life in this world. At every turn, there are signs to read, to interpret and to adapt. Natarajan faces her daily challenges, victories, and losses, while relying on her own voice and resources. She tries different experiences because that is what humans do in the process of trial and error. In fact, there are no errors to make note of as there are no wrong answers; it is just living.

Readers may find many similarities between their lives and that of the artist in FML. While personal, the experience is something familiar and shared with the readers. Natarajan is authentic and holds onto her true nature while interacting with family and friends. The fact that she uses pet names for these individuals is something many readers can relate to. She alludes to people who have come and gone, and those who stay. This collection covers the last five to seven years of Natarajan’s life; selecting scenes that illustrate every change in her life, especially the ones that pushed her in a different direction.

Throughout the pages, Natarajan gives us her own interpretation of the complex map of life; this collection of 63 comic strips is one not read through once and discarded back to the shelf when finished. It is in fact a living piece of art that evolves each and every readthrough. Readers are free to decide the pace. Tiptoeing around the artist’s insightful reflections will allow an understanding of Natasha’s nature as one; plunging headlong into her poetical stream of consciousness will show the more human side of Natarajan. In both cases, the loose plot facilitates an understanding of who the author is; how she has matured over the years, and how she learned to accept her inner thoughts.

Frames are black and bold, while watercolours alternate between something bright and dark. All of these reflect the mood changes; the different hues represent contemporarily life as a tranquil lake or as a raging ocean. As it can sometimes happen, beneath the surface is a whole different living universe. Sometimes, the balance between the two worlds shake and the colours mingle. Lettering assumes something handwritten, adding consistency and authenticity to Natarajan’s storytelling. Moreover, readers will enjoy the cartoon-style drawings and the various framing techniques Natarajan uses – as if in doing so, she imagines a storyboard for a feature-length film of the years that pass.

In an interview on Broken Frontier, Natarajan gives us some details about her process. “In terms of approach, I have a habit of just starting things. I don’t think too much, I just start,” she explains. It is the urgency of expression that will resonate with the readers as they read through the pages, immersing themselves in her storytelling. Inner monologues; messages and emails she writes; debates with a member of her family – we all have an uncle with whom we might argue with when it comes to certain topics, like the one in her ‘Uncle Monologues’ section. Through a window in her kitchen during her time in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland; Natarajan sees “a vast expanse of grass and sea”. I think this scene is emblematic of her sensitivity as an artist and therefore, as a human being.

In conclusion, Natarajan is indeed a comprehensive artist. She is an author, a web designer, a photographer and an illustrator – to mention a few of her endeavours. Natarajan works constantly, moving across different professional ranges. She is also an educator and as such she works with children, helping them develop their artistic sense. Her approach to work is multifaceted and it has been a pleasure to read FML Comics Collected. I look forward to enjoying her future efforts within the arts.

If you are a fan of slice of life comics and want to find out more about Natasha Natarajan’s works, I recommend checking out her website. After reading FML Comics Collected, don’t hesitate to share your comments with us on Facebook or Twitter!

About the author

Daniele D'Arcangelo