Former comic artist David Pugh – whose many credits include “Dan Dare” for Eagle,”Slaine” for 2000AD and “Loner” for Wildcat, and, in the US, Neil Gaiman’s Phage: Shadowdeath, written by Bryan Talbot – has published his first novel, Dharma Sutra.
Published by Austin Macauley and released in June 2019, the novel has an intriguing plot that finds Jeffrey Dharma and Remus Jallow, a Gambian palm tapper, in India on a search for Cosmic Love, in the aftermath of a bloody clash in West Africa between Jeff’s wife and a people trafficker. Jeffrey and Remus eventually find the woman who helps them on the path to sexual enlightenment and the truth of creation, guided by a charismatic ageless man who they think may be the real Jesus.
“It’s a book for those who want to celebrate the gift of sexual expression and learn that they do not have to die to experience Heavenly bliss,” says David, “Those who want a guide to liberating their souls while enjoying their Earthly bodies. Anyone who wants to soar through the cosmos, questioning the true nature of the Universe should read Dharma Sutra.”
The Indian sequences in the book were written on location in Orissa over a three month period this year. David has travelled in many parts of Africa and India and most of the characters in Dharma Sutra are drawn on real people he met.
This is especially so when it comes to the Remus Jallow character: his name has been changed but meeting with him in West Africa in December 2001 did change the course of David’s life.
“The idea for the book came to him when I met an Indian sadhu in Pushkar, Rajasthan in 2004. He could have been the twin of his Gambian friend,” David reveals. “The moment of enlightenment in the Jagannath temple on Puri beach, December 2011 brought me a new perception, leading to the creation of my alter ego, Jeffrey Dharma.
Since moving on from drawing comics, a career that began in the late 1970s and included creating “Captan Classified: Star Ranger” for the weekly Glamorgan Star in 1979, David has explored the world and worked on a hugely diverse range of projects.
He has created many adventure books featuring Disney and Sega characters, and illustrated a series of educational books for Belitha Press. He was also commissioned to work on several 3D art projects, including a campaign for Renault cars and collaborated on a 3D children’s book The Boy who Walked on the Ceiling, with fellow British artist Jon Haward, written and created by Doug Moench.
Pugh had also been design consultant for Holiday World International Travel and Oberland Holidays since 1979, work that helped fund his travels, taking him into the homes of many deprived families and becoming long term friends with many of them.
He lived in India for a long time, alternating between working as designer and computer graphics teacher for the LHA charitable trust, working with Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala and helping a street children project in Rishikesh. His friends, Bhuwan Chandra and Kamal Chandra, helped to put 15 girls through full-time education and gave free daily music and yoga classes to around thirty other children. Their project is still ongoing and funded by giving music and yoga lessons to foreign visitors, who are encouraged to also work with the children.
David is now the founder of Bus Fare, a charity set up to help migrant workers and refugees reunite with their families. For example, the organisation helped a migrant worker in the Gambia keep in touch with his family in Guinea Bissau by trying to develop home stays in the forest village of Cassalol in Guinea Bissau.
David is now living in Thailand and recently helped two migrant workers to return to their home village in Phetchabun province. Bus Fare funds have helped the to become more self-sufficient, growing their own produce and has provided them with a small truck to help their growing projects.
• Watch David’s talk about Dharma Sutra on YouTube, and talk a little about why he moved on from working in comics
• The David Pugh Fan Page on Facebook (a new official web site is in development)
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