Tapas Tuesday: “Puu”
Puu (பூ) in Tamil means flower. Taking place in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu (in eastern India), Puu by Nabigal-Nayagam Haider Ali’s (Nabi) tells the blossoming romantic story between two men. This webcomic beautifully demonstrates love’s persistence in the face of cultural and social restraints.
Reader Warning: This review and webcomic contains discussions/depictions of transphobia and gender dysphoria (misgendering, violence, self-harm, and suicidal ideation.) To the trans readers struggling and or living in a toxic environment, please know there is help. Contact the Trans Lifeline.
When Jameel Mansour moves into his new flat, he doesn’t expect his roommate, Saboor Halwani, to be a flower lover. The two men also don’t expect to eventually fall in love with each other. As they try to go around arranged marriages, past trauma, and other challenges, the two consider whether it’s worth it to stay together.
Nabi unravels a complex narrative that centers its characters. Aside from Jameel and Saboor, Puu features other Queer and trans characters. Noor, Jameel’s sister, is intersex and a lawyer fighting for LGBTQ+ rights. Mukil, a trans woman (thirunangai in Tamil) and politician, survives an assassination attempt during her campaign.
The webcomic navigates the intersectional experiences of sexuality, gender, ability, and caste. Each of the characters stands out through distinguishable personality traits and interactions.
Nabi does more than an excellent job in breathing life into his characters’ narrative arcs. Saboor comes from a Hindu Brahmin caste family and has experienced abuse for being gay and converting to Islam. His parents force him to marry a woman they’ve chosen for him, but he runs away afterward. He embraces his Queer and genderfluid identity and finds love with Jameel.
But then they’re found out and Saboor dwells into a depressive state. The art style takes a surreal turn here, applying effective uses of abstract art to evoke mental and emotional states. The creator also does this through flashback scenes, like with Jameel’s past with his parents and sister. The use of colors and shadings to show the stakes of the situation or event is impressive.
A spiritual journey of love and self-worth, Puu seamlessly combines narrative and art to create a memorable story about embracing yourself.
Puu is available to read on Tapas (online only)
Check out the creator’s Tumblr here.
For more great webcomic recommendations, check out our Wednesday Webcomics archives!
Author: Brahidaliz Martinez
Brahidaliz (pronounced Bra-da-leez) is a 2019 graduate of American University’s MFA in creative writing program. Their cross-genre chapbook, Coquí’s Song, is forthcoming (2023) from Mason Jar Press.
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