A momo-headed adventureEvery great creative idea does not always have to start with a cup of coffee or a glass of beer. For illustrator Nom Rana, it started with a plate of momos, Nepal’s de facto national food.
Every great creative idea does not always have to start with a cup of coffee or a glass of beer. For illustrator Nom Rana, it started with a plate of momos, Nepal’s de facto national food.
It was a dry summer afternoon last year and Rana was at a momo shop he frequented. As he was downing the steamy dumplings, something suddenly clicked in his head, he says.
“I don’t know where it came from or how. It came like an epiphany,” says Rana. “My next comic character was going to look like a momo.”
And that’s how he designed his latest character, Momo Boya, who wears a Robin-like mask and has three pointed cones spiking out of his head, like a dumpling when seen from above. Rana started posting a series of comics on his Instagram page, @nozomi_rana, where Momo Boya would get into zany adventures, which usually ended with him running away from his interlocutor. Now, he’s compiled all 25 Instagram episodes into a book, The Adventures of Momo Boya, which was released last week.
The pilot episode of Momo Boya introduces a character who wants to have a plate of momos, but unfortunately, is broke. The character goes to a momo place and excitedly orders, “Didi, ek plate chicken momo. Piro achaar pani hai.” “90 rupees bhai,” Didi replies. The stage is now set for Momo Boya’s appearance, where he makes an entrance, consoles the momo-hungry boy and asks the didi, “Student card xa! Discount kati hunxa?” (I’ve got a student card. How much of a discount do I get?)
Yes, there’s nothing wildly interesting or funny about the strips, but they still make for an occasional chuckle, given how quirky the characters look and the little jokes stacked between strips.
Rana’s fascination with comic books, films and quirky characters dates back to his childhood. “Like most millennials, I grew up watching shows like Tom and Jerry, Ben 10 and Death Note,” he says. “And as a child I would sketch the characters, but never had I ever imagined that I’d take this up as passionately as I have now.”
Rana started Instagramming back in 2013 and would post his work, but infrequently.
In a post dating March 24, 2018, Rana posted a work titled ‘Self Portrait’, with a longish caption:
“When i was a kid, my pre-school Art teacher used to tell me that “drawing is like taking the line for a walk”. She said “When you can compromise without going back or erasing your mistakes and draw faster than your mind, you’d be left with what your heart had pictured it in the first place.” I often get confused with that until she quoted “Perfection is achieved not when there’s nothing more to add but when there’s nothing left to take away.”
Rana is quite possibly the first Nepali artist to turn his Instagram posts into a book.
And as such, Rana says that he’s not proud that he did it or terribly satisfied with it. But nonetheless, he says he feels “awesome” and that there is a certain “feeling of accomplishment”.
“Even if it is not very good, I can say I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it,” says Rana. “I don’t have a single regret.”
The Adventures of Momo Boya is priced at Rs 1,500 and one can get it by DMing the illustrator himself on Instagram. The first print run of 20 copies all sold out within a week. Rana plans to print 10 more books but says he can’t afford any more.
Chatting with Rana on Instagram, I teased, so “discount chai kati hunchha ni? I have an id card,” borrowing Momo Boya’s own words. “It’s fix price,” replied Rana drily. “Cos malai profit dherai xaina.” (I don’t make much of a profit).