The protagonist of my comics, Miss Moti, was born out my own issue with negative body image. In a world that places so much important on appearance, Miss Moti is an unlikely ‘hero’. She is plump and big and, on the outside, her life might seem very ordinary. However, as her fertile imagination blurs the line between fantasy and reality, we realize that her life, like her personality, is indeed extraordinary.

The issue of weight was a subject of my BFA thesis ‘Sofa so Good’. In this series I depicted humans as different kinds of sofas and chairs. These particular furniture are made to fit the human body and also share similar terminology like ‘backs’ ‘legs’ and ‘arm’.

The painting ‘Shadows Lie’ was a comment on how certain times in the evening I would see my long shadow and nearly convince myself that I was tall and thin when it was not so in reality.

The idea for Miss Moti germinated when I went to do my MFA in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. It started out with a painting called ‘Hippo’.

This painting was a comment on the emphasis of ‘beauty’ in our society leads many people to have a negative body image about themselves, especially when it comes to weight. Humans also tend to compare themselves to animals when describing a characteristic.  The term “as fat as a hippo” is derogatory. It is however ironic that the animals themselves do not have any anxiety about the way they look. 

In the painting, we see a plump woman wrapped in a towel feeling self-conscious about  about getting into the pool with other slim and attractive people. On the border area, painted in gold lines, we see hippos enjoying wallowing in the water along side the more slender strokes.

I took the inspiration from Miniature Mugal Paintings where we often see a colourful intricate image surrounded by an equally intricate golden border filled with plants and animals.

After the painting I made a silkscreen print of the character swimming in the water. Unlike the previous painting, here the character is happy and at home in the water... like a hippo.

After this I got the idea of creating a character who would find peace and happiness despite what she did or didn’t look like... and Miss Moti was born. To create my first comic ‘Miss Moti and Cotton Candy’ I looked at works by Windor McCay and Chris Ware. From Windor McCay I got ideas for the context of my comic where fantasy and reality would merge together. On the other hand Chris Ware helped me to develop the visual language. I also received a lot of help from my thesis advisers Stephen Savage and David Sandlin.

After ‘Miss Moti and Cotton Candy’ I created ‘Miss Moti and the Big Apple’. Since then I have created many shorter stories. I also work without speech bubbles and there are minimum words in the books. I think this helps the book to reach across the boundary of language.


Kripa Joshi is an Illustrator and Comic Artist from Nepal.

She received the Indian Council of Cultural Relations Scholarship to pursue a BFA in Painting from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in India.

After graduation, she worked as an Art teacher for schools in Nepal.

In 2007 she completed her MFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York as a Fulbright Scholar.

At SVA she started making comics and developed a visual language that was inspired by the Maithali (Madhubani) folk art traditions of Nepal and India.

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