Regarding the Bunyip, and the new Kuzhali Manickavel minicomic
Hello friends! Today's blogpost concerns a cryptid/mythological demon-creature from Australia called the bunyip.
A bunyip is a huge amphibious monster from Aboriginal mythology that is supposed to live in swamps. The word is probably derived from the Wemba-Wemba language, from the southeast of Australia. Descriptions vary widely -- you can read lots of different stories in detail at the Wikipedia page -- but it's generally thought that they "can swim swiftly with fins or flippers, have a loud, roaring call, and feed on crayfish, though some legends portray them as bloodthirsty predators of humans, particularly women and children. Bunyip eggs are allegedly laid in platypus nests."
Here is a picture of a bunyip drawn in 1935 by Gerald Markham Lewis.
In 1937, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay (the author of the novel Pather Panchali, later famously adapted for the screen by Satyajit Ray) wrote a novel featuring a bunyip. His bunyip (illustrated here by Jukto Binir Basu) was more of a dinosaurian-godzilla-warthog-type thing.
Here is a painting of a rather mammalian bunyip from 1890, by J. Macfarlane.
Our own first exposure to the bunyip was through the game of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Here is the somewhat less-frightening illustration which accompanied the monster's entry in the 1981 Fiend Folio (by Russ Nicholson, maybe?):
(There are of course many other references to bunyips in English and world literature. One of our favourites is found in the name of the evil Shlomos Bunyip, devotee of the underworld demon Kkhkktonos in Daniel Pinkwater's The Neddiad.)
One theory about the bunyip myth is that it represents an Aboriginal cultural memory of an extinct member of the Australian megafauna called Diprotodon, a superchonky marsupial related to the wombat that survived on the island continent until about 40,000 years ago, not too long after the first human beings showed up.
We like this theory because we think Diprotodons are AWESOME.
Please appreciate this Diprotodon illustrated by one of Wikipedia's most prolific paleoartists, Dmitry Bogdanov:
Here at Blaft, it is one of our deepest unrequited wishes to bring these fascinating animals back from extinction, and to keep them as pets and armoured war mounts, and to ride them into literary festivals and book fairs to intimidate other publishers and frighten distributors into promptly restocking all our titles.
Here is another Diprotodon, illustrated in 1912 by Alice B. Woodward. Does it not possess a hypnotic, marvellous rotundness? We find it interesting to ponder whether the Diprotodon, like the modern wombat, would have had cubical poop, and just how large those cubes would have been.
Here is a skeleton of a Diprotodon on display at the Melbourne Museum. (📷John O'Neill)
It is not a secret that we here at Blaft have a long-standing fascination with monsters, cryptids, paleontological marvels, and folkloric supernatural creatures. But we usually restrict ourselves to publishing stories about entities from South Asia. Why, then, you may wonder, are we blogging about bunyips today?
It is because a bunyip is prominently featured in this extremely cool, extremely wacked-out little comic/zine/minibook by Kuzhali Manickavel that we're releasing this week. It is called "It's My Passion. It's My Style. OK?"
This represents Kuzhali Manickavel's first ever published collage-comic. We love all her work but we think this one is particularly awesome and you should buy it RIGHT NOW.
Here... read the first few pages, in which the bunyip is introduced as a member of a startling love triangle.
You simply must read more, right? Well, here are two ways to get your copy:
1 - Show up at the Mumbai Indie Comix Fest at YMCA Central this weekend (March 25-26). We'll be launching this comic as well as a reprint of Appupen's graphic novel Moonward and a comics-format excerpt from Kautilya's Arthashastra, as well as carrying copies of Orijit Sen's classic graphic novel River of Stories, Misha Michael and Evin Collis's "Dog and Crab", and more.
2 - Pre-order from our website, and get your copy in the mail next week!*
Take care dear readers, and may giant prehistoric cuddly and/or maneating wombats visit you in your dreams.
*Slightly longer for international orders