Brainded India presents Ecomixer II: Sthree Sthree September, a month of celebrating women through comics. This time we are looking to highlight the incongruity of women in India who are elevated as goddesses in rhetoric, yet dehumanised in their homes and in the streets. Playing on superheroes as a significant part of the mainstream visual language, through Sthree Sthree September we want to disrupt the tired old maternal or hypersexual images to create a new and subversive vocabulary.
The event was held online in a week-long event that featured original Indian ‘superheroines’, their powers, costume, name, insignia and origin story. The entries were featured on Brainded India over a period of ten days beginning 20 September to 30 September 2018.
The second edition of Ecomixer was curated by Catherine and Appupen.
Phase 1: An open call to our readers to send in their original superheroine sketches, detailing their powers.
Jugaadu Jigyasa by Suman Kaur. Jugaadu Jigyasa’s father was a mechanic who would always encourage her to play in his garage. Over time she realised that she was solving problems that her friends could not even decipher. As time passed she realised her gift and so did her father. Once while working on a bag that would expand to accommodate a large number of items, they went to procure a certain grade of rubber. Due to unforeseen circumstances the factory caught fire and Jigyasa lost her father there. Broken and lonely, she decided to carry on her father’s legacy. When she went into the garage, she found a bag on the counter. It was the perfect model of the bag that she and her father were trying to create. She quickly picked the bag up, unable to believe her eyes. The Miracle Bag, the Infinite Bag. Thus, our heroine begins her journey, living by her father’s principles, and saving the neighbourhood. Okay, not saving as in the literal sense, but doing her bit to contribute to a collective brighter future.
Shakti by Siddharth P Kumar.
Super Granny by Juilee Tembhekar. SuperGranny is spreading her magic of words making stories from around us seem otherworldly. Kudos to her new Cape that takes her places in a snap of a finger. Thanks SuperGranny, keep doing your thing! Superpower: Keeping 21st century kids off digital devices for 30+ minutes. Weakness: Never being aware of the whereabouts of her eye glasses; especially when she carefully places them on the top of her head. Can be spotted in the kitchen slyly adding extra ghee on your rotis. If seen around, immediately bend down to take Aashirwad.
1/2 Suu-Spiriya by Sanika Phawde. Supriya Jadhav is a 14-year-old superheroine from Mumbai. The kids in school call her Suu-Suu-Priya. But little do they know. Suu-Spiriya’s mask is a scooty helmet she stole from her mother but thanks to her superpower she never really has to fight anybody. She can control human and animal bladders; she can also fill bladders up with her mind so her enemies have to keep running to the loo and are too tired to fight.
2/2 Suu-Spiriya by Sanika Phawde. Supriya Jadhav is a 14-year-old superheroine from Mumbai. The kids in school call her Suu-Suu-Priya. But little do they know. Suu-Spiriya’s mask is a scooty helmet she stole from her mother but thanks to her superpower she never really has to fight anybody. She can control human and animal bladders; she can also fill bladders up with her mind so her enemies have to keep running to the loo and are too tired to fight.
Agneenari by Arunasish Sen
Sudharshana by Samriddha. Sudharshana (derived from the Sudarshana Chakra) can kill two birds with one stone. Just like the flaming chakra, she spins herself to save this world. She has two bodies in one soul, the fierce one fights against evil and the other defends itself from all evil energies and spreads the fragrance of love and compassion. The flower she is holding is capable of moulding a bullet into a flower bud, a knife into a leaf. So basically, her anger and wrath can’t destroy herself. That’s how powerful she is! ‘Guns N’ Roses ‘ (her superpowers, also an American rock band) were so inspired by Sudarshana’s superpowers that they decided to adopt it.
Baghni by Jay Saghatia (1/2)
Baghni by Jay Saghatia (2/2)
Korou Leima (The Sun Maiden) by Team Stormtroopers (Diya Tongbram and Nainika Chauhan) (1/2) Powers: Besides being able to control energy around her to give electric shocks, she has speed, agility, heightened senses, photographic memory and superhuman strength. Additionally, she has minor pheromone control and night vision. But her most beloved superpower is telepathy. Leima derives her energy from the sun. This explains her prolonged periods of weakness and depression during heavy monsoons when the sunlight during peak sun hours falls below the minimum needed for her mutant abilities to function. (contd.)
Korou Leima (The Sun Maiden) by Team Stormtroopers (Diya Tongbram and Nainika Chauhan) (2/2) Backstory: The story of Leima Laishram goes back two generations. The Battle of Imphal, fought between the Japanese armies and the Allied forces in 1944, saw her maternal grandfather serving as a weary sepoy in the British Forces. As a part of their biological warfare/bio- terrorism programme, the Japanese were conducting clandestine experiments under the auspices of the dreaded Lieutenant-General Masakazu Kawabe, along the Chindwin River. One fateful incident exposed her grandfather (and a few other sepoys) to an experimental infection which permanently altered his genetic sequence. However, this mutation remained dormant, got passed on to his daughter and she became a carrier. When his daughter was pregnant with her child, she got caught in crossfire at Heirangoithong – known as the Heirangoithong Massacre of 1984. The saltpeter of gunpowder that went inside her body triggered an unusual haemoglobinic reaction. While the mother died giving birth to Leima, little did she know that she was imparting superhuman abilities to her child. When she was 16, her Science teacher, Khiton Nongmaithem (who is actually a Thang- Ta master and a weak mutant himself) started initiating her to the idea of evolution and mutation and started by training her in Thang Ta (a form of Manipuri martial arts with swords and spears). This gradually helped her to take control of her powers through meditation and practice.
Indiva by Aakanksha Trivedi. Indian women are a beautiful mix of what this country’s traditions impose on us and what we, with changing times are making of ourselves. Indiva aims to carry everything that she is with herself confidently. Her weapon are the chakram (in her left hand) with powers more advanced than anything and the “pallu” of her sari (in her right hand) a marker of modesty that has been imposed upon women by society. Indiva is brave, intelligent and humble. She is highly skilled in martial arts and above everything is confident in whoever she has become.
Mangal Mahila by Percy Bharucha. Mangal Mahila was married off as Madhu to a suave upper class MBA educated groom with a job in a multinational firm. Till one day she realised he was a coke-head who beat her up and raped her when he got high and sold off her jewels including her mangal sutra to pay off his drug-fuelled gambling debts. Madhu never religious till then swore revenge, she stole another mangal sutra by gatecrashing a nearby wedding. Strangled her husband with it and since then roams the streets peeking into bedrooms to ensure paapi husbands meet the end they deserve. Death by Suhaag she calls it. Superpower: Ability to appear as eligible bahu and charm potential mothers-in-law to get into the homes of baddies. Kryptonite: Nosy relatives who ask too many questions.
Chai Tai by Maithilee Sagara. Weapon: Kohlapuri Chappal and Ladle Always carries: Potli of chai patti Ride: Bajaj scooter which has a space for single stove and other utensils/ingredients needed for chai Chai Tai has taken it upon herself to right the wrongs of patriarchy by catching hold of brats and freeing their brain of diseases like toxic masculinity, misogyny, casual sexism, homophobia, etc. She does so by brewing conversations over chai (she sells chai out of the scooter) and if that doesn’t work, her ladle and kohlapuri serve the purpose.
Gravatovia by Asta Banerjee Gravatovia can control and manipulate Gravity, on Earth or anywhere else. Her weapons are a spear and bola, and she has a logo that symbolises gravity – this is like a diamond that has a triangle on each side of it. Her mother was from Earth and her father was from a planet named Tanari. She tries her best to protect people, especially children, and even animals.
Phase 2: We invited artists to create and illustrate a superheroine for the second edition of Ecomixer.
The Wandering Gaze by Manek D’Silva. The Wandering Gaze, a gorgeous hipster party-goer who means well but might find your eyes if they wander too far. Her only weakness, people without heads!
Sister Hood by Chacko. Last seen lurking around Kerala regarding a certain frisky bishop that had to be taken care of, Sister Hood’s name is whispered in dark cloisters and under stained-glass windows. Armed with her trusty Crossbow (Mark X:XX) and Holy Nunchuks, Sister Hood has a list of sleazy shepherds who like to fiddle with their flock, and plans to grant them premature meetings with their maker. No longer can the powerful stay protected behind barriers of dogma and blind faith, for now the predators have become the prey.
Gau Machina. Half god. Half beef. By Tintin Quarantino.
In Green Lantern Volume 3 Issue 54, published in 1994, Kyle Rayner comes home to find his girlfriend Alex dead and her body stuffed in a refrigerator. Triggered by the random yet brutal murder, comic books writer Gail Simone compiled an alarming list of superheroines who have been killed, raped, or depowered to serve as a plot point that drove their male counterparts. The list (http://www.lby3.com/wir/index.html
) was titled, aptly, Women in Refrigerators.
Rashtria, circa 3393 AD Femi-automatic and her trusted sidekick Transister roam the wastelands of Rashtria looking for natural energy. A highly decorated AI Guard, before she was court martialled and imprisoned, but she escaped with the help of Transister, went on to become an AI rights activist and founded the Femist Movement.
Paakhi by Ruchi Singh. Paakhi is a 15-year old girl. When she was a baby, she was taken to a bird zoo daily, where her father was a caretaker. Spending time with birds in early childhood enabled her to communicate with birds without anybody’s knowledge. One day, she made all the birds escape. Mother Nature liked her kindness and blessed her with a power to increase and decrease her body size, and the birds she helped also gave her great power. The birds are serving as her team since then. Paakhi becomes small or big to ride a bird. She calls birds and uses their special qualities to attack enemy. Superpower – Communicates with birds, can increase or decrease body size Weapon – Birds Kryptonite – Barren lands.
A dream-like Anubis by the dreamer Anpu Varkey. “She is synergy. Unbound, Through spaces she shifts; Across moments she steps. Stalking the shadows. Moonbeams ignite her. She is all creatures of the night An ancient calling, Solitary custodian… Anubis”
Space Girl by Chacko. In a world infested by sex-starved COCKroaches, it can be murder for a regular girl to go out in the open without getting swarmed. But this is no regular girl. After years of tinkering in her lab, Space Girl has engineered several tools to manipulate space and keep the roach swarm at bay. As a precaution, she also keeps a few extra pain sticks at hand in case she ever needs to get up in a roach’s face and dish out some damage. Her only weakness is stray animals, who are able to walk in and out of her space field with impunity, and whose cuteness can be a hazardous distraction in these perilous times.
The one and only Lady Knight by the one in a million Manjula Padmanabhan. Lady Knights’s super-power is compassion and she rides to the rescue of anyone who needs rescuing, anyone who needs a friendly hand, anyone who needs a sympathetic ear. She wears a lawyer’s collar and a doctor’s stethoscope, signifying her commitment to justice and her ability to heal, to banish fevers, to fight infections. Her shield is the Venus Symbol. She wears chain-mail and shin-guards to symbolize her awareness of the risks all mortal beings face from stray arrows and snapping turtles. She wears nail-polish on her toes and earrings because she accepts that being a teensy bit vain is her one weakness. She forgives herself for it. Her primary weapon is a pen with which she bears witness, takes down confessions, draws portraits. Her secondary weapon is the camera, with which she creates an honest and accurate record of the Truth. She carries supplies to support herself wherever she goes – bedding roll, primus stove, manual typewriter, cook-pot, water bottle, kettle, house-plant, books to read, painting to look at and running shoes to run with. She prefers analog devices which do not need electricity because … who knows when the Power Will Fail? But she has a TV screen too and a desk-lamp, for those days when she’s plugged in. Her vehicle is a strong white horse called Genghis. She’s a Knight, after all, right? So she’s got to have a horse. He’s non-polluting and produces only organic wastes. He does rear up and snort now and then, but that’s only to be expected. Her companions are a parrot and a spaniel. The parrot’s name is Momo. She’s an African Grey and provides excellent conversation. The Spaniel’s name is Bumble. He provides unconditional love.
‘Nobody said the world is fair, but you can be fair.’ Vanita Fair, Vigilante and Heiress of Fairwell Cream. VF works relentlessly to fight poverty, hunger and unemployment with fairness. Governed by her doctrine of FairPlay, Vanita Fair works for the judiciary, the government, corporations and the people, making institutions and communities fairer everyday. If they’re not fair, she will make it fair with a blitz of her Fairwell white-wash gun. Her weakness: very fair, tall, upper caste men of marriageable age. By Tintin Quarantino, and Appupen.
Ninja Nani was a regular granny until her TV set zapped her with the powers of a cartoon ninja. Now she backflips, cartwheels and fights crime in Gadbadnagar, while dressed badly. Her weapons of choice… a walking stick and her false teeth. By Lavanya Karthik. Find out which supergranny you are! https://uquiz.com/zBb629/what-kind-of-a-supergranny-is-yours
The beautiful Ankhmari Jaan by Arundhati Ghosh and Appupen. Fondly known as Ankhmari Jaan or Ankhmari Bai, her superpower is that she can get men pregnant by winking at them. Her only weakness is that sometimes she forgets her power and genuinely winks at men who end up getting pregnant!
Creator of super commando Dhruv and all-round legend Anupam Sinhaji presents Sindhu depicted as Shaktiroopa (an upcoming series of Super commando Dhruv too!).
Introducing Maya’s Moh Maya that can dismantle the patriarchy, violence against women and girls and end mansplaining. By artist Kruttika Susarla.
Smother India by Appupen. She knows you by the touch of your fingerprint and the twinkle in your retina. She knows your last seen at location and your every cashless transaction. She is none udder than Smother India. No one loves you like S’maa! Smother India looks to Aldousji Huxleybhai for ideas on how to keep her children happily occupied and semi-sedated as she goes about her big business of running a country. Her weakness: jalebis. She knows you by the touch of your fingerprint and the twinkle in your retina. She knows your last seen at location and your every cashless transaction. She is none udder than Smother India. No one loves you like S’maa! Smother India looks to Aldousji Huxleybhai for ideas on how to keep her children happily occupied and semi-sedated as she goes about her big business of running a country. Her weakness: jalebis.
Bai-Sexual by Rucha Dhayarkar. Growing up in a brothel in Kamathipura, Bai was exposed to the dark side of human sexuality at a very early age. Cat calls, pinching, groping and lewd gestures were like general greetings, it was life. She was expected to follow the path of her mother and become a lady of the night, and a lady of the night she did become, just not in the conventional way. One night, when she was 10, while waiting outside a lodge for her mother, two men tried to take advantage of her. She ran, helpless and screaming, but nobody heard her. She screamed and screamed until her pitch shattered some windows nearby. At this point, the men stopped. They were staring at their penises in shock. There was pin drop silence for a few seconds, until the men started bawling and ran away. That’s when Bai realised, she could turn penises to stone by screaming at them. And Bai – Sexual was born. Over the years she became a wonderfully strong person, unafraid of men, unashamed of her origins and unabashed with her language. Now, in the day, Bai works as a maid in the nearby houses and during the night, zips through Bombay on her trusty motorbike, keeping the streets safe. At some point she realised that being caught on camera scares men most. So now, her phone is her prime weapon. She is well known on social media and runs an Instagram account called ‘Rock Hard Penises’ where she shares reaction videos of sexual deviants when they see their manhood permanently sculpturised. Needless to say, the page is doing rather well.
1/3 The Unfinished Adventures of Üperman and Underwoman By Catherine, Gotham Greene and Appupen. Will Manopolis ever be Just-another-polis? Read more to find out what lies ahead for our heroes.
2/3 The Unfinished Adventures of Üperman and Underwoman By Catherine, Gotham Greene and Appupen. Will Manopolis ever be Just-another-polis? Read more to find out what lies ahead for our heroes.
3/3 The Unfinished Adventures of Üperman and Underwoman By Catherine, Gotham Greene and Appupen. Will Manopolis ever be Just-another-polis? Read more to find out what lies ahead for our heroes.
The Doodle Mafia ravishes women with unapologetic bounty, and popping colours. She also makes drawings illustrations, comics, and cutesy zines.
Miss Pummela by Annada Menon
She owns a bakery where she kneads, folds and stretches the dough; the place is her haven. The process of baking kind of trickles down to her methods of fighting goons as well. She kneads, pulls and stretches their body like a rubber band with her bare hands.
Loosely based on the artist’s mother, Miss Pummela does all the heavy lifting – takes care of her family, plants and the bakery business. She fights crime and solves problems with her bare hands, the hands of a mother, rough, worn and marked with burns but nurturing, strong and powerful.
The Girl Not From Madras by Neha Dixit and Orijit Sen
The comic follows Sakina, a 17-year-old from Assam who is sold as a ‘bride’ to a family in Haryana. Her brother with the help of an NGO is trying to rescue her. The story is told by the caped crusader Laadli (Beloved Daughter), who accompanies us through this chilling narrative that is warmed by a glimmer of hope.
First published in First Hand Graphic Non-Fiction From India. With special thanks to Arpita Das and Yoda Press
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Nimona is a shapeshifter with her own ideas, most of which involve blowing things up. Her entry into the ‘evil’ Lord Ballister Blackheart’s life means that he may finally accomplish things and do justice to his ilk. Nimona is now part of his cause, to show that the good guys aren’t as good as they seem. Written and drawn by Noelle Stevenson, Nimona now exits in a book.
Poonam 3000 by Xishnu.
This short but magnificent story is about a mother who does more than what is generally expected of her. A heroine in two roles, no one greater than the other.
Iota by Malavika Pc
Superheroine Iota emerges from the carnage that remains after a fire-breathing and concrete-crunching reptilian troublemaker wreaks havoc and chaos. In the wordless world that Malavika Pc creates, Iota is effortless, elegant, and efficient.
And that’s the end of Brainded’s Ecomixer Edition 2. Do also check out ECOMIXER Edition 1: 12 Comics, 12 Artists, 12 Hours