by Tony Kendrew
Advaita is a full-length comic book. This is already exciting news! Iván Sende deserves our gratitude for finally bringing together these apparently odd bedfellows, for the pleasure of devotees of both comic books and advaita. The frames are beautifully drawn, with muted gray-greens and browns the dominant color scheme, while the style – and the hero’s quiff – remind us of Herge’s Tintin. It reads like a spiritual autobiography, following the author’s seeking years traveling the world and trying various paths, negotiating a relationship all the while – something many of us can relate to.
There is also something fascinatingly fractal about the author drawing himself talking about the actual book we are holding in our hands. He talks to his girlfriend about it, and in one frame tells her it’s for people who like comics, not something for a spiritual audience. I am not a big enough fan of comics to know if comic lovers will enjoy Advaita, but I was struck by how wordy it is for a comic book, and sometimes thought the pictures a distraction from the story. But that’s my tendency to focus on the words which, in translation at least, make a pretty serious impression. Iván Sende lives in northwest Spain, and wrote the original in his native Galician. There is a wry sense of humor throughout, but it’s the illustrations that set the mood, managing the changing scenes beautifully, sometimes whimsically. And some brilliant full-page illustrations evoke a sense of place that brings to mind the golden age of traveling artists.
Lovers of Nisargadatta will be happy to see the author finds I Am That in a bookshop in Rishikesh, and I bet Francis Lucille is thrilled to see his satsang featured in the pages of a comic book.