Over the last year or two, the Indian publisher Campfire has put out several dozen graphic novels adapting public domain stories (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Gulliver's Travels), along with a few biographies of well-known figures. Photo Booth is different. It's an original story—apparently the only completely original work that Campfire has published to date—and it's an ambitious attempt that deserves notice.
Campfire bills this book as a romantic thriller, and it's that and a bit more. It's about a reckless Interpol agent, Praveer Rajani, who is on the trail of a criminal gang flooding the streets with a new and dangerous drug. But the drug also has mysterious ties to the automobile accident that killed Rajani's parents 20 years ago. And tied to the drug and the mystery of his parents' death are sheets of photographs, taken at a carnival photo booth, that magically changes to show different people, different situations, and different locations, some of which might be clues to the drug case Rajani is working. And on top of that is a tale of love, featuring Rajani's brother Jayendra and the woman he almost lost.
It's all a bit too much for one story, and the whole coincidence of the parents' death being tied to the drug that's just hitting the streets 20 years after the car accident that orphaned their children is hard to accept. But writer Lewis Helfand uses the whole laundry list of interconnected plot elements to tell a story of a family torn apart and the fragility of love, and that gives the graphic novel its very real emotional core.
Helfand tells a good story, although much of the police work he depicts does not ring true. His cops are tough-guy analogs, not real characters, and nothing about their case moves like a real investigation. It's a shame; this could have been a much more powerful story if the emotional core were attached to a more believable plot.