Renowned comic book artist Dheeraj Verma, who has worked with Dark Horse Comics and Marvel Comics in the US on titles such as Night of the Living Dead, Transformers, Dracula and Iron Man is now set to release a graphic novel about the Mahabharat hero Abhimanyu.
The book, entitled “The One,” has already been completed and a Kickstarter campaign is currently underway to self-publish it. Meanwhile Verma is approaching major publishers who are likely to pick it up soon, considering his standing in the industry.
What is especially interesting is that while the Mahabharat is often seen as “mythology” by many including in India, Verma is a Krishna devotee and sees it as factual history.
“I grew up in Delhi, India and my uncle was a sannyasi who told me many stories of Lord Keshava,” he says. “At home, we would pray every morning and evening. And on Janmashtami, Sri Krishna’s birthday, my papa would display Lord Krishna’s life story with toys and wooden models.”
Verma’s drawings are dynamic and don’t hold back on the true to history violence of the Mahabharat war
Verma’s purpose in life has been clear from the start. At just eight years old, he became passionate about drawing, preferring to stay in and create art than to go out and play.
Straight out of college, he approached a comic book company that gave him a job as soon as they saw his work. Two years later, in 1993, he created Bheriya, a werewolf character hugely popular in India.
In 2004, U.S. comic book publishers Avatar Press came calling, and from there Verma has been working on one famous series after another.
But nothing has been as close to his heart as his Abhimanyu graphic novel “The One,” which has been gestating for a decade.
Abhimanyu is unstoppable
“I had seen B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharat serial, but had not been aware of the extent of Abhimanyu’s heroism until I read the Mahabharat from Gita Press,” Verma says. “He was just a boy, 16 years old, but he eliminated 200,000 warriors in the Kaurava army in one day.”
Verma also conducted research by visiting Kuruksetra, Vrindavan, and Lord Krishna’s birthplace in Mathura.
The resulted is an incredible 96-page graphic novel covering every detail of Abhimanyu’s tragic story: Exactly how the teenage son of Arjuna and nephew of Lord Krishna broke into the Chakravyuha battle formation on the 13th day of the war; how the Chakravyuha was structured; every step of the battle; and Abhimanyu’s deceitful death at the hands of veterans three times his age.
Verma also shows Lord Krishna’s anger at warriors like Karna, Duryodhana, Shakuni and Drona for the cheating methods they used to kill a mere boy.
The Kaurava warriors use cheating methods against the warrior code to attack Abhimanyu
Dheeraj Verma’s illustrations are colorful, dynamic, action-packed and very violent – they don’t hold back on the reality of the Mahabharat war.
But the book also has a lot of depth – it explains how Kuruksetra was in fact a war fought for righteousness and orchestrated by Lord Krishna Himself.
Verma also sees Abhimanyu’s story, despite its tragic nature, as being an inspirational tale that shows his intended teenage audience just what you can achieve with determination and focus. The Chakravyuha was famously impenetrable – but at only sixteen, Abhimanyu completely decimated it and bested many of the greatest warriors of his time. What’s more, he could only be overcome by deceit – tackled head on, he would have been utterly unstoppable.
“I want to bring this book to the world because every teenager should know about this real-life hero,” Verma says.
Abhimanyu destroyed 200,000 Kaurava warriors
Already, the trailer and sample artwork for “The One” is garnering rave reviews from fans online.
Meanwhile, Verma is already planning his next project, about Lord Krishna.
“Comic books and graphic novels are my world,” he says. “When I’m working on a project, I start in the morning and work until midnight. I love it – I don’t think I could ever do anything else!”
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Support “The One” and get special rewards here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/238615851/the-one-abhimanyu
Aug 06, 2022
Brahmatirtha das Director, Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies