Miss Moti was born from Kripa Joshi’s struggle with her body image and issues like being overweight. When she created this character and series, she saw Miss Moti as a positive character who could achieve things regardless of her size.
“I was inspired by my mother who, despite her weight, never let it hold her back. She dresses up in fancy costumes for her office parties and treks to remote villages in Nepal,” Kripa says. Stylistically, her art is inspired by the Maithali or Madhubani folk art from Nepal/India, she says. Depending on how it is pronounced, moti could mean plump or pearl.
Why is Miss Moti a text-less comic series? “It didn’t start as a conscious decision. When I made my first comic, I just felt there was no need for words to understand Miss Moti’s emotions. Also, the lack of words invites the reader to put their own thoughts, feelings and experiences into the story… it makes her more relatable,” Kripa says.
One story in her book — Miss Moti And Her Short Stories, does have text, which is a narrators voice, Kripa explains. “Each story in the short story book was part of another anthology book, with the theme of fairytales. I thought I would not be able to convey the theme unless I used some words and so I introduced it here.”
Miss Moti and Cotton Candy and Miss Moti and the Big Apple are part of a larger five-part story and now Kripa is looking to get a publisher instead of self-publishing her work.
Her journey into this series came when she won a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue an MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York, while she was already illustrating books.
“There I was introduced to a whole new world of comics and graphic novels. I realised the scope of comics and the kind of stories one could tell through that medium, whether it was funny, poignant, dramatic or personal. The play between the dream and reality that I saw in Winsor McCay and his Little Nemo inspired my Miss Moti stories. There are always little elements that make you think that maybe it is was not just in the imagination. I let the reader decide,” she says.