Ravi (left) looks on as Juju stops Darshan (right) from running away
Ever felt so hungry that you could eat a horse? Thankfully, neither has this writer. But if this popular saying about desperate hunger were to be taken at face value, there would be a high possibility that you are possessed by Mizoram's ghost Aomaow.
"Aomaow is found in the folk tales of the Mara people from Mizoram. According to these tales, a person possessed by this ghost will fall sick, feel extreme hunger and at night, their head detaches itself from the body and roams the village hunting for livestock to kill and eat," explains Prathamesh Gandhi, who co-founded a creative house Unbearable Comics with Vignesh Ramesh and Bajro Narayan Dutta.
(Clockwise) Vivek Nag, Vignesh Ramesh, Prathamesh Gandhi and Bajro Narayan Dutta with the book
The trio published their second volume of Eyes N' Daggers, an India-based ghost hunter comic series, earlier this year, and will follow it up with a third volume set to release in January next year.
Lurking amid the pages of the series are Indian ghosts; some adorable and resourceful, while others dreary and fatal like Aomaow - all inspired by author Rakesh Khanna's supernatural encyclopaedia - Ghosts, Monsters and Demons of India (Blaft Publications). And combating these mythical creatures in style are, not tantriks, but ghost hunters with equally powerful and flattering mystical abilities. The series that is brought to life by the three recent graduates, who are in their early 20s, aims at building up the curiosity around the ghost narrative around India.
The plotline revolves around a boy from Mumbai named Darshan, whose mediocre life turns upside down when his elder sister returns home from work one night and empties the house of food, and even the furniture. Before Darshan can take stock of the situation, his parents are affected by this mysterious hunger as well. Cue the entry of the ghost hunter with a no-holds-barred attitude, Ravi, who is also the only ghost hunter we meet in the first two volumes.
"The third volume will introduce you to another ghost hunter, Trisha, followed by many others as we progress," Ramesh promises. The 23-year-old continues, "Our story was inspired by the ghosts mentioned in Khanna's book. We will take the series across India, as our protagonists meet ghosts from all corners of the country, and explore different cultures in the process." The protagonists Darshan and Ravi will now travel to Raigad, kicking off their ghost hunting tour across the country in this volume, Gandhi shares.
The trio began this project under the guidance of Vivek Nag, their former teacher at a media institute in 2022. Nag reveals, "I wanted to begin a comics incubator just like we had a gaming incubator in the institute. So, I asked them to pitch ideas. And while all three came up with some innovative ideas, they decided to back Prathamesh's concept that was inspired by Khanna's book." While he kept tabs on the progress of his students till the first volume was published, Nag stepped back knowing that they had it covered. "They have a full-time job, and take time out from their routine to work on this series. This reflects their passion," he remarks.
The two volumes are packed with entertaining sequences of action, punchy dialogues, captivating illustrations and - this writer's absolute favourite - Juju, a giant, flying, purple ghost dog that acts as Ravi's vehicle. Giving this writer a peek into the upcoming volumes, the creators promise us that there might be more to their hero, Darshan than meets the eye. "The secret is hidden in the title of the series," they tease as they sign off.
Log on to: @unbearable.comics (digital version)