A look at the funny side of life, through poems and cartoons
Whether I’m a Shakespeare or a Shelly, I never sing.
But with the permission of Edward Lear, I like to ridicule
For every rhyme there’s a reason
Whatever the weather or the blessed season
Then with my pen and my paint I light up my thoughts in a Limertoon
Limertoon’, the portmanteau of limerick (a five-line poem with an AABBA rhyme scheme) and cartoon, was invented by the man who loves puns; his verse above elaborates on this reasoning. Even his own pseudonym, Alexyz, was inspired by Anthony Quinn’s ebullient character, Alexis Zorba, in Zorba the Greek (1964), as an attempt to eclipse the competition with a common Christian name, Alex Fernandes. Mumbai-born St Xavier’s College alum gave up football dreams after injury, joined and quit advertising within a year because ‘I couldn’t keep lying’, moved to Siolim to create an NGO with friends, before moving to full-time comics.
The 78-year-old started out as a sports designer with O’Herald— as the newspaper’s first cartoonist — and launched two books: let’s sportat the 1982 Asian Games, and Howzatt! Century of Cricket Cartoons—Indian’s first cartoon book about gambling. After a shift of interest towards environmental degradation, mining and urban encroachment plaguing Goa, he authored three books, Goa paradise lost; Goa… Goaing… Goan… Gone…? ; and Oh To Be in Goa.
While Alexyz’s cartoons can be confused with Mario Miranda’s – both have buxom wide-eyed women and pot-bellied men with various personality traits, hairstyles, and someone in the crowd is almost always spotted. – he says that the winner Padma Vibhushan was incomparable with a different artistic bent. “He was not a political cartoonist, and more of an illustrator, but I use colored pencils.” Miranda’s cartoons have a pleasant vibe, but Alexyz’s technique of delivering hard-boiled truths with a melodic verse and animated sketch can give you goosebumps. Cartoons like his crucified father Stan Swamy – a reaction to the apathy and injustice that led to the tribal rights activist’s death – earned him the nickname “cartoon terrorist” in the newsroom . Alexyz, however, always under a hat, flashing a toothy smile, is known as “a happy young man” in Goa, which revived the San Jao boat parade. He wants to leave behind “a small legacy” by writing an autobiography “only after he finishes publishing a list of pending titles and puts in order some 15,000 sketches lying around the house. “I can be very disorganized,” concludes he with a small laugh.
(This appeared in the print edition as “Rhyme & Reason”)