Before the Unmasking

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About Eloise and the Heavenly Horse

This graphic novel, my first, is a woman’s adventure travelogue, centred around a 20-something Jewish woman, living away from her family and getting over a recent break up. She is hired by a publishing firm to edit a piece on the discovery of the ‘lost’ post of Muziris. While editing, she begins to question certain discrepancies in the archaeological finds, which bring up further historical and geopolitical questions, linked to ancient trade routes (once connected to Muziris).
The journey in her mind sees her travel back in time, traversing actual locations in Asia, and rediscovering her own dormant spirit for adventure. In this ‘dream world’, she meets a host of different characters, who represent her own personal dilemmas, of identity, love and trust. But the dreams are interspersed with rude interruptions of reality, where she continues to edit the pertinent treatise. The mystery gradually takes on a larger dimension, one that involves India’s religious history — Muziris had ties to most of India’s predominant religions — and sci-fi– but eventually connects it to the struggles that Eloise, the protagonist, overcomes as an individual.
Growing up on a heavy dose of comic literature, and particularly Tintin, I have always felt the absence of a female travelogue in comic fiction. While Tintin documents other lands and peoples from a clearly defined hierarchy of knowledge, a documentation that questions rather than reinstates stereotypes is perhaps less readily available. Eloise is not just a female traveller but a woman negotiating her workspace as well as her personal relationships through her imagination. But it is also important for her to reconcile that imagination with reality.
Also, I was earlier involved in publishing travel guides that were sponsored by State tourism departments, which required our publication team, Goodearth Guides, to present a ‘safe’ view of India. The role of geopolitics in shaping history and religion, specifically, was considered as subsidiary to the views of the said departments. This book however seeks to present an alternative take on history, geopolitics and religion. Hence, Eloise tries to re-examine what is perceived as gospel truth, or received knowledge about cultural heritage, not only India’s, but that of the world as we ‘know’ it.
I know this post has been a while coming but der aaye, durust aaye, as they say in Urdu!

A cup of chai?

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Or a whole new reckoning over the day?

The ride comes to life

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Eloise got some matters sorted, in three illustrated parts, to be exact…and here she is, bursting into colour ! 🙂

Heavenly Eloise, really?

Umm, well, she tends to casually drop on me, light as a feather and heavy as slang, and then beams online

Where It Begins

Where It Begins

and then she goes….

The Flight

Flight-in

saying hey to you! 🙂

And promising clearer pics soon!