The many sides of dog lovers, canines musing on life and dogs in a post-apocalyptic world — a new anthology co-edited by Vidyun Sabhaney and Jeremy Stoll features compelling works on the four-legged creatures by five Indian and five US writers and artists, writes Kareena Gianani
Last year, when writer Vidyun Sabhaney and US-based scholar Jeremy Stoll met at the UnBox Festival in Delhi, their conversation began by watching the dogs nearby, discussing how and ended with them swearing to do a book on it.
DOGS! An Anthology, features particularly well-drawn and versatile stories by five Indian and five US writers, including Delhi-based Sabhaney herself, Stoll, who completed his PhD on Indian comics in 2012, illustrator Priya Kuriyan and Orijit Sen, of the Pao Collective.
Co-editor Stoll's research focussed on the overlap between folklore and media studies in India, looking at the Pao Collective as a community that engages with the comics medium as visual storytelling. "After the comics came in, there were times where it seemed like the stories were too different – but in the end, they really complement each other.
Where some are dark, others are light-hearted; where some focus on people’s understandings of dogs, others shine a light on dogs’ worldviews. He says he also wanted his own comic to be inspired by the intriguing and friendly dogs he met while living in Delhi in 2013. “I wanted to question what the difference is between an animal who is a pest and an animal who is a friend.”
India has quite a robust comic scene but they are not produced at the same speed as, say, manga comics in Japan. Jeremy and I wanted to create fresh, quality content in the field and start a dialogue on comics. This book beautifully merges Indian comics with the strong alternative comic scene of the US. My own comic in it is about how, after I buried my dog at a shelter, his plaque went missing, probably sold by thieves for the metal.
— Vidyun Sabhaney, co-editor of the anthology
Story: Vidyun Sabhaney, art: Pia Alize Hazarika
For my comic, I was inspired by Sebastian, my German Shepherd friend whom I was close to while growing up. He passed away in 2009. I wanted to draw a story about what his experience of the world must have been like. To say goodbye, in a way. My story is also meant to put readers into a dog state of mind for a spell — to remind them that the mutt on the corner is the subject of a unique and irreplaceable life. And if you took a minute to get to know them, he or she might just be a neighbour, even a lifelong friend.
— Jeremy Stoll, co-editor
Story and art: Orijit Sen
This anthology is exciting because it has thrown up the most unexpected stories about dogs and some arresting artwork in the process. This kind of a mix is sure to have each reader rooting for at least one comic in the book. It is inspiring how far one can stretch the genre of comics in an anthology.
Story and art: Priya Kuriyan
My comic is autobiographical — it’s about my transformation from someone who didn’t know what to do around dogs to a dog-lover. Ginger, the dog, still visits me everyday, and I am just as smitten.
— Priya Kuriyan, Delhi-based illustrator