Arts and Entertainment

“My comics are an extension of what I have on my mind.”

- ABANI MALLA, Kathmandu

Jun 3, 2019-

Mimi cha has short hair and is usually accompanied by a talking cat named Meow cha. It is difficult to discern if the cat is a friend, a sibling or Mimi cha’s inner consciousness, but they make a perfect pair in Rimishna Manandhar’s comic strip.

Mimi cha is Manandhar’s alter ego of sorts. She documents the chronicles of her everyday life with some humour and philosophy on her Instagram page @o_mimi_cha. Even though she uses social media to share her comic strips, her artworks are mostly line art on a plain notebook. But her growing followers—which has reached 5.2.k on her Instagram page—do not seem to mind her simplistic style.

Her comics talk of many things, but mostly of her life. And one cannot help but notice similarities between her work and American daily comic strip classics such as Bill Waterson’s ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ and Jim Davis’s ‘Garfield’, in terms of quirky philosophy and satire.

“The things that I can’t readily express belong to my comic strips,” she says.

Manandhar started sharing her comics online in 2015 and till date she has more than 2,000 posts on her Instagram page. Apart from comic strips, she also posts doodles and short poetry-esque writings, which sometimes transcend humour and touch on issues such as depression, suicide, mental and emotional health, and body positivity.

As far as learning fine arts academically is concerned, the 28-year-old, an architect by profession, only undertook basic sketching classes in her undergraduate degree. But she says that she always had a knack for sketching and doodling. While she also experiments drawing doodles over images, most of her works are still based on the traditional pen and ink art medium.

It was also encouragement from her friends that she decided to have some digital presence for her work, but for Manandhar, rather than an intention to share her work, she wanted to create “a virtual gallery” where she could preserve her art.

Her art style is an accumulation of rough and casual black pen strokes for comic strips. For doodles, she uses colourful pens too.

As her comics reveal, the artist is an introvert and moody in real life. So, when it came to being identified through her work, she decided to stay anonymous under the cloak of Mimi cha—her nickname at home.

“I enjoy what I create when I’m anonymous,” says Manandhar. “It secures my privacy and I don’t fear sharing anything personal.”

Most of her popular posts are the ones that are inherently personal but also very relatable. Her posts are usually filled with comments from her followers who can relate with Mimi cha’s ordeals as their own.

But garnering followers has never been her intent, she says. Sharing her personal issues and emotions online, according to her, helps her put her thoughts in perspective. Sometimes it is easier for her to express her feelings through the comic strip than talking about it with the other person, even her closest friends.

“I started the page for myself. It is still just a hobby and medium to let out my feelings,” she says. “I never really envisioned that my art would be admired, shared and loved by people.”

Although she receives many requests from her followers to compile and publish her comics and ‘go beyond Instagram’, she thinks the other way. “I don’t want to commercialise my art,” she says.

Manandhar is concerned that her expression will get “adulterated” as soon as she opts to take it up as a professional career. The other reason she feels is that it requires her to come out of her comfort zone which she isn’t ready for.

“I can’t do it for someone else,” she says.

There was also a time when she felt her hobby was consuming most of her time. During that period, she felt as if it wasn’t something she wanted to pursue further. But subsequently, she realised that her “virtual gallery” has also become her “stress reliever.”

Apart from that, she has also discovered a community of artists on Instagram who share a similar perspective on art and life.

Like her personality, her work can be “random and moody,” she says. Her humour can range from being juvenile to mature, sometimes somewhere in between, but Mimi cha’s posts are worth to stop the mindless scrolling.

“My comics are an extension of what I feel and have on my mind,” she says. “They are all it is.”

Published: 04-06-2019 07:00

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