Yakkity-yak: Cartoonist Miku Dixit '06 talks back

For as long as Dixit has been taking notes in class, he has always doodled on the margins of the page. “I never could take notes without drawing something on the side,” Dixit said.

In June of 2000, Dixit’s father founded a weekly newspaper, the Nepali Times. Dixit realized that the paper would provide the perfect opportunity to try drawing a comic strip. He loved to doodle and, by creating a strip, he had the chance to combine his wit and his artistic ability.

The comic strip, “Yak Yeti Yak” consists of two characters, a Yak and a Yeti, who, as Dixit said, “bounce jokes off each other” in the mountains of Nepal.

Although the characters and the plot are original, Dixit cited a few sources of inspiration. His idea for a Yeti came from a humor column which his uncle published a number of years ago. “[I] decided to resurrect that character in a cartoon form,” said Dixit. With eight of the 10 highest peaks in the world, including Mt. Everest, the mountainous terrain of Nepal provided inspiration for the setting of Dixit’s comic strip. In addition, the politics of the area also played a role in inspiring his strips. “There are also many references to local issues,” he explained.

Comics from around the world have influenced Dixit in his creation of “Yak Yeti Yak,” such as “Calvin and Hobbes” and “Dilbert.” “You might also see some relation to the Simpsons,” he said, adding that he combined his inspirations, “went for it, and got published.”

According to Dixit, this particular strip is the first “proper cartooning” he has ever done. “I really think cartoons are a great medium to communicate ideas whether they are political, just humorous or both,” Dixit said. “In many cases, I’ve tried to parody local issues, news and popular culture using a kind of humor more subtle and less obvious than most comic strips. In a cartoon, you can really say some important and daring political things without taking yourself too seriously and without requiring other people to take you too seriously.”

Dixit believes that cartooning is an opportunity for many forms of humor. “It’s a great medium for satire and for making fun of whatever you feel ought to be made fun of and what isn’t made fun of enough,” he said. “At the same time, it’s not always intentionally funny.”

“Yak Yeti Yak” has not been a large part of Dixit’s life since arriving at Amherst. “A comic strip is something you’re generally supposed to continue for a long time, but it’s the first thing I ever did,” said Dixit. “I do not want to be limited by its three frames and two characters. I wanted to continue but I’m having trouble finding time. The strip would definitely undergo a big change because of the setting. I’d like to try something new.”

However, Dixit does plan to continue his art education here at the College. He explained that, at first, it was important for him to expand his horizons and take other courses, but he plans to take courses in the department of fine arts, in addition to creative writing courses.

Dixit’s artistic experience is not limited by the “three frames and two characters” of “Yak Yeti Yak.” Two years ago, he illustrated a translation of a children’s book. “There are not enough good children’s books in our native language,” he said. “Illustrating the book was tough. I basically had to look at the drawings that were in the Japanese original and adapt them to suit the readers who would be reading the Nepali translation.”

To Dixit, “Yak Yeti Yak” is a greater accomplishment than his book illustrations. “Illustrating the book was just a lot of drawings that took about a month to do, whereas the cartoon is something I worked on every week,” he said. “Doing the cartoon was easier and is more rewarding and more fun than illustrating the book. Creating something out of absolutely nothing is very satisfying.” Dixit actually considers himself “more of a writer than an artist,” even though he loves drawing.

As an international student, Dixit has faced more adjustments than the majority of freshmen. While becoming comfortable with being more independent, Dixit has also had to adapt to the United States. “[It’s] more than just the differences in English spelling and driving on the wrong side of the road,” Dixit said. “Generally, in the United States, there is a culture of individualism here that is stronger than in most other places I have been. Otherwise, the adjustments have not been difficult at all.”

Dixit currently has a multitude of potential interests. “I might try cartooning more. I would like to do it at some point. It might be satirical, maybe about Amherst life or politics or even another comic strip,” he elaborated. “I just don’t know yet.”

Since May, 2001, Dixit has created over 60 comic strips on a variety of topics. “Some of the humor is more general and more people can understand it, but it is generally about local issues,” he said. “I have not created too many strips, but I still might be a professional cartoonist. The cartoon that I’ve worked on is the first one that I’ve done. I just created a strip. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, actually, and I like it.”