Anush Ter-Khachatryan
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‘Mashtots: A Not-So-True True Story’ by Anush Ter-Khachatryan (BAEC ‘17)

2 min read

The creator of the Armenian alphabet gets a wide-angle view in the recent punchy graphic novel

When speaking about Mesrop Mashtots, we instantly visualize the virtuous portrait of Mashtots in his massive black linen cloak staring into the distant river of time. This image wraps up our interest in the creator of the Armenian alphabet and one of the revolutionary thinkers in Armenian history. But there is a new rear window into the mind and deeds of this character open for modern Armenian readers.  

Written by AUA alumna Anush Ter-Khachatryan (BAEC ‘17) and created by the animators of TUMO startup Yelling Studio, the new graphic novel Mashtots: A Not-So-True True Story gives the reader a new perspective on the historical character, his time, and the grand event that determined the course of Armenian history. Told as a road trip, the comic book takes you on an adventurous and spiritual journey to Edessa, where Mashtots and his two students indulge into a series of misfortunes, failing to meet their deadlines, struggling to get a grant for living, but eventually completing the most important project of their century. 

“It’s a story of a spiritual journey which shows the underpinnings of the lofty views we now have of these historical figures,” says Ter-Khachatryan. “I wanted to show Mashtots not in his final state of sublimity, but as the underdog who needed to hassle — meet his deadlines, seek grants, and satisfy the investors who trusted his vision. It’s the Silicon Valley story taking place in fifth century Armenia.” 

In the summer of 2018, the writer and the team of animators started mapping out the book, researching and reading all they could find about Mashtots, his students, and their time: from the way they dressed to the curious scraps of details of their lives and deeds, all of which gave depth and soul to the book and inspired many punchlines. But the authors braved to not only consume the history but also poke it to find the modern, more critical and fun story inside. Now available both in Western and Eastern Armenian, the book will give the reader an outlandish experience of the familiar history, accompanied by sardonic language, expressive visuals, and punchlines to remember. 

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.