October 16, 2014

The Constant Gardener.

My illustration for The Constant Gardener, an article on dugong feeding behaviour written by Elrika D’Souza and Vardhan Patankar, for Current Conservation magazine’s issue 8.2.

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The article describes how dugongs feed in seagrass meadows (their principal food source) by completely grazing them down; and leaving these fields for other areas for a time long enough to allow the depleted areas to regenerate. Thus the dugongs tend to these meadows like gardeners, ensuring for themselves a supply of desirable, high-nutrition seagrass species — while keeping the growth of low-nutrition high-fibre species down through their grazing cycles.

The illustration shows a pair of dugongs working through some seagrass fields, leaving “trails” which eventually grow over again.

Read the article here.

MORE: On Vardhan’s blog, more details on the ongoing dugong study in the Andaman & Nicobar archipelago; on how dugong conservation efforts involve caring for its habitat and involving the local communities in protecting this species.

October 11, 2014

Found Lepard.

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I have been thinking on leopards for a long time now.

They weave in and out at the fringes of our cities, pass quietly through our villages. A leopard may well be your neighbour next door, him of the night-shifts, whom you never see except for the chance encounter when you see a (his?!) paw pull in the milk packets left on his doorstep. You might possibly never ever see the modern urban leopard, oh, but he sees you.

As the forests dwindle into spotty fragments, leopards and other beings of the forest are brought into awkward and sometimes unfortunate encounters with humans. Some leopards end up being spotted by some especially social humans who muster a crowd of more humans within bewildering seconds. It’s well-known that leopards are no good at parties and social situations, and would much rather get out of it and do what they’re good at instead – stalking real prey they can eat and climbing trees Like A Boss.

Still, we seem bent on forcing leopards to join us in the great City Life. These cats of secrets and shadows now already live amongst us, seeing from high places the Truth and the future. They hear the word of the street, the calls from the dark places where people and animals live – where so many prefer not to look in case they find them.

Found Lepard began as a series of notices and flyers mobilising all the cats in the vicinity at short notice, to make a stand against the Powers That Be which refuse to explain themselves.

Here is a Found Lepard in Kulture Shop‘s newest themed collection, Urban Jungle.

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He’s on art tees and art prints – currently in the Kulture Shop showroom in Bandra; soon to be found online.

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Here are some of the other leopards in the series.

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October 6, 2014

With Potatoes and a Pie.

Days are forgotten with Kasabian.

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September 9, 2014

We are Leopard.

We are Leopard.
Even the oldest Leopard can only barely remember a time when she didn’t have to cross a six-lane highway to reach the watering hole.

Like the others of her kind, she is a solitary beast. She knows other Leopards – even her own cubs come and gone long ago – the way a chess player evaluates her opponents for subtlety, strategy and surprise. These are necessary tools to preserving life and limb, and to get some foodmeat to carry on for another day.

The highway screams and glares red in the distance. The oldest Leopard pads deftly from shadow to shadow.The night is the last true ally of the Wild. The humans keep trying to push back the darkness with their fires and electric lights. But they must sleep, eventually – and the night is long and patient. When darkness covers the shrinking forest, the lines between human habitation and the trees soften, blur and disappear.

The oldest Leopard pauses in an alley, choosing her next move among waves of overpowering scents and sounds. In the forest, sensory signposts are easier to read — precise and unmasked by noise. The strength of human numbers and a certain proclivity to carelessness makes for a tumbling, tangled tumult of trails which nearly mask what really matters to the oldest Leopard. There it is again… the faintest cluck of a chicken in a cage, several streets away.

As the oldest Leopard tracks down her prey, the memory of the sound guides her over the rooftops and between the shabby, thin buildings. Occasionally she passes laconic, unmistakable signs left by other invisible Leopards. She moves quietly past humans sleeping on the pavement, so close to the ground they are usually invisible even to other humans.

The chicken shop is just around the corner. The scent of stale droppings and fallen feathers is strong, making the oldest Leopard’s scarred nose quiver with expectation.

The oldest Human sits muttering in a doorway which opens out into a narrow street. His fading eyes catch the brief glint of the oldest Leopard’s gaze as she steps out of the shadows and leaps past the square of flickering yellow light towards the chicken shop. The stacked cages outside are all empty except for one with a diseased bird left to die, who clucked faintly in the night and will be swiftly dispatched by the jaws of the oldest Leopard. Having taken what she needs, she melts back into the night as quietly as she arrived.

The oldest Human witnesses the hunt, mumbles incoherently and continues to dream. He lives in the Past, in a tiny village on the edge of the Wild.

Later, licking the last of the blood off her whiskers, the oldest Leopard wonders idly about the Black Panthers of the lost Wild… mythical beasts made of shadow with eyes like the brightest of stars, seeing all — and spotted by none. She thinks on the other Leopards who hunt silently in these human cities, planning and setting into motion slow but sure changes. The signs are up. The invisible Ones shall rise out of the shadows. The revolution will happen, the Wild will come to reclaim all that was taken from it.

The oldest Leopard hopes she will live to see it.

We are Leopard, say the signs. Expect us.

September 5, 2014

Found and Lost.

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Things noticed, drawn, as spotted from the window of The Train.

August 28, 2014

Look Again.

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February 26, 2014

On making Wet Food at Home for your Growing Kitten.

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On making Wet Food at Home for your Growing Kitten is a 14-page (yay! longish!) graphic story I wrote and drew (with Manta Ray comics) for The Obliterary Journal Vol 2, published by Blaft. The book is fleshed around everything to do with Meat, and the story explores what happens to four people (and a cat) (and a dog), love, loss and lots of foodideology.

The story really began with Brinda Baliga, who knew what she wanted (“pyoor” veg only, pliss) and what she didn’t want (anything to do with meat) and a kitten that she suddenly had to Deal With. (Then there was Mincho Mondal, a complicated nemesis gnawing on a meat-tainted toothbrush.) This is an adapt of the first thing I drew about Brinda and the Kitten (for whom wet food gets made. At home).

kit1But where the lines began to blur was with Andres and Torby Delano, the mushroom-twins. These guys sure do need a hug, in the middle of the story, and I don’t know if they got it. But you can order custom-grown mushrooms from them online, it seems.

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Things get thick and convoluted, for the how and why and what-really??! grab a copy of the book and read the story.

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February 20, 2014

Friends and Relations.

Friends and Relations developed as an exploration of the awesomely punch-packing Kulture Shop‘s theme “Living in Colour“. { For those who came in late, Kulture Shop‘s a NEW and jumpworthy graphic art avenue where me and other artists are developing some fun artwork, often wearable and usually meant for frames and walls and hours of staring! }

Sometimes, I’m a bigger fan of black and whites and greys and textures and stripes and spots, than of colour – so I put those on the palette, and mixed them all up to see what happened next. I reread some Mendelian genetic and pea-pod crossing theories, followed by some Winnie the Pooh. In a matter of minutes, the white chicken and the black chicken had made more chickens who went on to make more chickens, a complex family tree of unexpected connections and bewildered-looking products. Like in the Velvet Underground song, in some kinds of love, possibilities are endless. The chickens sure thought it would be groundless to miss one.

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This is available as Limited Edition Art Prints and Art Tees. #SupportTheArtist and get one! Like so:

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Here’s Pratheek Thomas s’porting the Tee, with Tina Thomas. Thanks for all the love, Kulture Shop!

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January 20, 2014

Changes.

In the wake of impending oilsmoke and potential acres of tree-stumps in the country, here’s a Small Picture I made called Changes.

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This piece was published on January 3rd, 2014 in the Mint newspaper.

January 20, 2014

Obliterary Journal Vol 2 (Non-Veg).

The Obliterary Journal Vol 2. (Non-Veg)  is a meaty new anthology of short comics and artwork by Blaft Publications. It’s themed over the idea of people eating animal flesh, and contains “talking chicken legs, giant man-eating serpents, plenty of aliens, a few mind-blowing statistics, and some excellent kebabs” (says the Blaft blogpost with a loud wink); dreamed up by a brilliantly wacky bunch of writersandartists.

Here is my design for the anthology’s covers featuring a chain-smoking bubble-blowing lollehpop-eating maami we’re calling Meatface Aunty. The cover’s been printed in three different versions like so.

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The back cover carries a hand-lettered list of the contributing folks, individually crafted, just like old times. The nutritional facts info on brown paper was subtly doctored in the Blaft word-processor to feature brilliant kicks in the head like krait venom and baby phat and vitamin X. And the flaps of the book are full of nomworthy halal-meat labels pasted on at Blaft. Here is some detail of the back cover and flap.

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The book was launched with much fanfare, elaneer and coupons for fish at the Nochikuppam fish market in Chennai.