Puchki and her four-legged friend Cookie found themselves in the middle of a rather exciting adventure last year. The creator of the cartoon Upal Sengupta received a request from the consulate of Italy in Calcutta to create a fun series that would be educative and immersive, about the meeting of Bengal and Italy. The two characters went to Italy and the 16-frame comic was soon made into a glorious calendar for everyone to enjoy in 2021. Done to celebrate Italian language week in the city, Italian consul general Gianluca Rubagotti decided to bring Puchki back, not just to celebrate language week but also Dante’s 700th anniversary.
“The idea of the first series of Puchki and Cookie in Italy was to familiarise young readers with my country and also its language. In each of the scenes, you can find a few Italian words which are easy to comprehend, whether you know the language or not. After it was published last year, we received a lot of positive criticism which encouraged us to print a calendar for 2021. Now, we are moving one step further, imagining the interaction of the protagonists with a towering figure of Italian and universal literature that is Dante Alighieri, on the 700th anniversary of his death,” said Rubagotti.
As Upal readies the panels, three of which are completed, the consulate collaborated with the Kolkata Police Museum at Ripon Street to host a week-long exhibition of Puchki and Cookie’s adventures. “When I received a call from the consul general last year, the focus was very clear –– to promote the Italian language in Bengal. Initially, we conceptualized a royal Bengal tiger in conversation with someone but soon realised how tricky that might be. So it was then we decided to use Puchki and her dog Cookie to tell this story. In this year’s adventure, she is speaking to Dante. It is impossible to fit Divine Comedy into three comic panels of course so we have a fun spin on it,” said Upal.
While the focus of the inauguration event on November 18 was to highlight Upal’s wonderful work, it was also a teaser for the adventure that lies ahead in front of Puchki this year. In attendance was the commissioner of police in Calcutta Soumen Mitra and Rubagotti. Mitra took time out of his busy schedule to tour the exhibit and learn about the culture and place. We are surely waiting for the calendar to be unveiled this year!