To view images from Ramayana: Divine Loophole, click here for a slide show.
When Pixar animator Sanjay Patel was a child, his house was filled with images of mysterious deities—an eight-armed goddess, an elephant-headed god, and a divine couple called Rama and Sita. But it was only years later, after working on films like A Bug's Life and The Incredibles, that he became intrigued by the stories that had surrounded him as a little boy.
Patel's new book, Ramayana: Divine Loophole, is a picture-book version of an ancient Indian epic. The story has all the elements of a classic fairytale: a noble hero, a wicked stepmother, a beautiful princess in distress, and a host of friendly animals who save the day. But there's a twist. Rama is an avatar, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. His purpose on earth is to slay a ten-headed demon who can't be destroyed by any of the gods—only by a god in the form of a man.
In Patel's illustrations, the characters of The Ramayana are doe-eyed and childlike. He creates his images on the computer, building them out of restrained, meticulous shapes and lines. But he holds nothing back when it comes to color. On one page, a demon shakes his trident against a background of hot pink; on the next, a friendly monkey flies through a lemon-yellow sky. The effect is as ancient as it is modern—an homage to a culture where colors are bold, stories are fantastical, and divine beings are constantly taking new forms.