Posts Tagged ‘Graphic Novels’

Hello all.

2015 is upon us like a Shakespearean mist enveloping my city, Amman, in the month of January.

The following words that you will read in script format are part of a project that was never to be for many reasons. I hope you enjoy reading them.

They are part of my attempts of dreaming big and yet failing to bring these dreams full circle; I won’t disclose the circumstances that led to this failure, however, I acknowledge that my biggest failure in the past two years was helping others fulfill their own dreams neglecting my own.

Time to move on and forward.

Sardine, a.k.a, Mike V. Derderian, or the man behind the Brick in the Head dashboard

2015

 

Chapter One: 1911 – 1920

The Ottoman Empire

EXT. DESERT – Day

 

Prologue:

What came before that shot?

A bright horizon gives silhouette to erected enormous tents. A group of heavily armed men just arrived. A dignified bearded man dismounts from his camel.

The shot that shaped this piece of sacred earth.

 

The bearded man’s back is to the crowd. He reaches down to a handgun strapped around his waist in an embroidered gun holster.

The shot that united them all under one flag and turned them all into brothers.

He opens the pistol. There are no bullets in the chamber. He turns around and gestures to one of his men; a broad shouldered Bedouin.

 

The shot whose symbolic echo was far louder than the actual one.

The broad shouldered Bedouin, who was talking to a group of tough looking men, walks towards the bearded old man.

The shot that ricochets to this day.

The old man is locking the gun. He turns around scanning everything in sight: The tents, the mud houses, the camels, the horses, the men and the women, and the children, who are playfully running around. He eventually fixes his eyes at his man.

 

The Bearded Man, Sharif Hussein bin Ali:

“I don’t seem to have any bullets left? Hassan! Go ask Hamed for a couple of bullets.”

Hassan:

“But I have bullets with me my lord!”

The Bearded Man, Sharif Hussein bin Ali

“If he tells you that he hasn’t any tell him the Sharif knows.”

Hassan:

“Very well my lord!”

Hassan runs off and disappears amidst a sea of white, gray and black fabric – the attire of the converging Bedouins come out like extensive waves of fabric through which children can be seen playing.

The serenity is broken with a crescendo of shouts. Two men drag a third and throw him in the middle of a circle of men.

Man 3:

Please don’t. I only did because I had to feed my family. You would have all done the same.

Man 1:

Sell us all to the Turks for a couple of golden coins! You will die for this. Your family will not bear the brunt of your treachery. They will be taken care of.

The second man pulls out a pistol and shoots the man, the collaborator, in the head to the cheering of the crowd. Someone throws a cloth over the dead man. Everyone gets back to doing what they are doing.

Two kids approach the body and try to take a look. Hassan angrily chides them. They run away.

Hassan (to himself):

You are too young to stare death in the eye. You will in time.

Sharif Hussein bin Ali stood from afar watching. He was waiting for Hassan to return with the bullet.

Hassan:

“Here you go sir. He gave me 20 bullets.”

The Bearded Man, Sharif Hussein bin Ali:

“I only need one.”

Hassan:

“But how did you know!”

The Bearded Man, Sharif Hussein bin Ali:

“Yesterday, I saw him bag two ammunition belts from a dead man. We need every bullet to succeed. Ask the men to converge. It is time.”

The Sharif takes the bullet and slides it into the pistol’s chamber. He approaches an elevated makeshift platform.

The Bearded Man, Sharif Hussein bin Ali:

“People of Ma’an, do you know why we are gathered here? Today, we will write with our own blood as ink new sentences into the book of history. Let this shot be our shout to freedom. Remember it well and tell your children so that they in turn tell their children about it.”

The Sharif draws his pistol and fires it in the air. The crowd cheers as the Sharif and his men head to his camel. He and his men ride out of Ma’an and into the horizon of a red sunrise.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

1985

On route to Damas

EXT. A Bustling CITY. It is midday. American MUSCLE CARS, that travel the Damascus and Beirut route, line the sides of the renowned Abdali Street.

Old travel agencies are everywhere.

A thick mustachioed MAN can be seen leaning over cars that come in proximity to the parked travel cars. He comes too close to a TAXI that was slowly approaching an old and poorly furnished travel agency.

Man:

Syria! Beirut! Do you need a car?

The YOUNG PASSENGER hesitated for a second before nodding. The man smiled as he gestured to the taxi DRIVER to pull over.

Narrator: 

Nothing would prepare Ismail to what he and others in the Arab world will experience in 20 years.

Not even the most skilled coffee cup soothsayers saw it within the coagulating black trails.

I did not see it coming. No one will see it coming.

When it comes everyone will see it, feel it and live it.

The man quickly tried to pry the passenger away from his suitcase and backpack but he couldn’t. The young man, Ismail, dropped the suitcase in the trunk.

Man:

Give me your passport!

Ismail:

Wait a minute. It is in my backpack. Here you go.

The man quickly runs to the office. In the meantime Ismail decides to buy a falafel sandwich for the road. He peeks into the oil basin where FALAFEL DISCS bubble into a crisp.

The Falafel VENDOR picks up three discs that he smashes inside a half-folded circular BREAD sheet. He quickly, and quite elegantly, twirls the sandwich inside a perfect paper wrap, before slipping it into a YELLOW plastic BAG.

Ismail:

Thank you.

He heads to the parked DODGE and places his backpack at the right side of the backseat. He stands next to the door.

Ismail:

God I am tired. I cannot wait for the driver to take off. I miss Damascus. I just wish …

The man and the DRIVER, a burly fellow, dressed in a pair of dark jeans and an unbuttoned brown shirt, approach the car with a young woman. Distracted by her beautiful features Ismail did not notice the TWO MEN who slipped into the front seat.

The Driver:

Time to head out! You guys have to sit in the back. Come on.

MAN 1:

But we came first!

The Driver:

Would you want your sister to sit next to stranger? Come on, to the back.

MAN 2:

As my friend said we came first. We already told your office we want the backseats.

The Driver (rather angrily):

It is my car; my rules. Do you want to get to the Syrian border before 11 or do you want to stay here?

Both men give in and head back to backseat and sit next to Ismail, who made sure he is sitting next to the window.

Narrative Box:

Like a beast running through the open plains. The Dodge roared its way into the Jordanian checkpoint. Two hours later it was parked next to a Hafez Al Assad statue.

EXT. DODGE parked in front of the statue.

INT. Inside the DODGE.

Man 1:

Do you always drive at 110 miles per hour?

The WOMAN:

What’s all this commotion? Why are we waiting in line? We’ve been stuck here for the past 20 minutes.

The Driver:

It seems they caught a water tank that was attempting to smuggle three men into Jordan.

Ismail:

If they caught them then why haven’t they moved the tanker?

The Driver:

They all died. They suffocated from the unbearable heat and no one is daring to go inside the tank.

The Woman:

Such a sad fate!

Ismail:

A fate that you only read in passages taken from a tragic Palestinian novels!

The Woman:

How deep! Are you studying in Syria? You look like a student.

Before Ismail can answer the woman, and to his dismay, the Driver growls.

The Driver:

Alright! Everyone out of the car! Grab your passports and get them stamped. See you all in a bit. Give me your passport Miss Serene. You can stay in the car until they call your name.

The Woman:

No I will come with you.

INT.PASSPORTS BUILDING

It is gray and decrepit. The glass windows are stained. Its corners are covered with FLIES. PASSENGERS, DRIVERS and ARMY and SECURITY PERSONNEL fill the place.

Narrative Box:

Cascading rivers of black cover the whiteness of her shoulders. She is a goddess traveling with a band of mortals. Her glances pierce throw the most gilded of armors.

INT. Ismail is leaning on the queue rail. He is standing next to the two men, who are traveling with them. To his opposite is the woman.

INT. Passports BOOTH. An officer approaches the glass and starts addressing the crowd.

 Ismail:

Finally! I am going to see my lovely Sham!

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

2001

Joha’s Nail

Ext. A busy street in Beirut’s Al Hamra St. The BUILDINGS are alive. Women and men are going in and out of their balconies. Some women are hanging wet clothes on laundry lines. Some are sitting drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.

Narration Box:

It is 2001. In a couple of hours an event with cataclysmic effects will sweep through the United States of America and then the Middle East.

Lives will be affected and changed.

Anyone who has read The Prophecies of Nostradamus will know what just happened.

Having gone through a dying empire, a foreign occupation, a Civil War and Zionist aggression the Lebanese, of all Arab people, learned how to live.

INT. In a different neighborhood an old looking CAFÉ is filled with elderly gentlemen and young men, who are playing CARDS, smoking HOOKAH and drinking COFFEE and TEA.

A television hanging by a metallic extension from the wall is playing Um Kholthom.

All is quiet until the BUSBOY rushes to the television and changes the channel. He is quite nervous. Once he finds the channel he raises the volume. Everyone at the café is now listening to the NEWS ANCHOR.

NEWS ANCHOR:

Two planes just crashed into the Two Towers, or what is known in the financial world as The World Trade Center Buildings, in New York.

A moment of silence follows before a MAN wearing Glasses yells “Allah Akbar.”

Man wearing glasses:

Allah Akbar ya shabab! Finally someone gave those Americans a taste of their own medicine.

Other men join in and shout “Allah Akbar.”

An OLD MAN sitting at a far corner does not join the crowd in their cheers and congratulatory hugs. In front of him are stacks of RUSSIAN LITERATURE BOOKS and some POSTERS in A4 format.

Narration box:

Hakim suddenly remembered how the men and women of their time cheered whenever an operation against the Israelis proved to be a success.

If he learned anything over the years it is that politics, foreign politics, is like quicksand. Every time his people attempted a move it sunk their bodies deeper into the sand.

Hakim:

Cheer as much as you want. The powers that be will turn this victory into a victory of their own.

He looks around with sad eyes. He feels sorry for them. He then takes a look at his watch. He is expecting someone.

Hakim:

Fools! Do you ever learn! Our fight is no longer a fight of the gun it is a fight of knowledge. Haven’t you heard of Joha’s nail! Where is that journalist?

At that moment a young man carrying a BAG filled with PAPER rushes into the loud café. He looks distressed.

Young man:

Hello sir. I am sorry I am late. Everyone has gone mad over the Twin Tower bombing. I just got a call from my editor asking me to report to the office. I told him I have to meet you first.

Hakim:

It is okay Ismail. I am sure this will enrich our conversation about the Palestinian resistance and my involvement. Different times; different weapons! Tell me have you heard of Joha’s nail?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Where Art Thou My Beautiful Sham

EXT. CUSTOMS BUILDING. JORDANIAN BORDER: JABER – NASEEB border. An establishing shot.

INT. Customs Building. The place is filled with anxious PASSENGERS, who are standing in long lines.

Some are shouting. Some are crying. Some are angry.

A man nearing his mid 30s, ISMAIL, pushes his way through a sea of passenger. He clings on to the MARBLE edge of the passports BOOTH. He uses it to leverage himself closer to an OFFICER, who is trying to calm people.

Ismail:

Sidi! Sidi! Sidi! Sidi!

The last Sidi came closer to a shout filled with anguish.

Officer:

What? Why are you shouting?

Ismail:

What do you mean the border is closed?

Officer:

It is closed we just received government orders.

Ismail:

But I have family there. I have to be there today!

Officer:

Sorry. You all have to get back to Amman.

Elderly Woman:

But I have to get back to my family.

Officer:

Sorry Hajeh. There is nothing we can do.

Ismail looks to his left after hearing a WOMAN hold an ELDELRY woman.

Woman:

Don’t worry mother! We will find a way.

Elderly Woman:

There is no God but God. I am going to miss the burial of my dear husband; your father. I am afraid they will bury him without me. I won’t be able to kiss him goodbye. Oh my Ghada!

Woman (Ghada):

We will try to catch a plane to Syria tomorrow. Come on mother. The driver told us to head back to the car.

A younger MAN turns back and talks to the two women with a haughty voice.

Man:

What is the loss of a husband compared to the loss of Syria as a mother? How many of her children died.

Looking at the shocked women Ismail ignored the man.

Man:

What is the death of your husband?

Ismail this time decides to take action.

Ismail:

I don’t think they want to hear what you think about the death of their loved one. Why don’t you remind them of the children of Gaza? They are dying too. Why don’t you shut up and leave them alone.

Man:

And who the hell are you?

Ismail:

A man unlike you! Now shut up before I show you your worth. Leave these ladies alone.

The man glares at Ismail for a minute before he pushes his way out of the line and outside the Customs building.

Ghada:

Thank you!

Ismail:

You are welcome!

Ghada:

You could have gotten into trouble. Everyone is a preacher nowadays.

Ismail:
If there is something I hate: It is those who trade religion and morals. Excuse me!

Ismail re-focuses his attention at the officer and yells.

Ismail:

I just have one question Sidi. Do you think the airspace is open? Can I travel by plane?

Officer:

Do I look like a flight attendant to you? Go back to Amman. You will know.

Ismail (to himself):

Idiot! I cannot believe this is happening. Three hours away from my beloved Sham.

As Ghada held the hand of her mother she couldn’t resist talking to this stranger one more time before heading to the car.

Ghada (to herself):

Come on say something.

Ismail notices how the woman is looking at him.

Ghada:

Good luck with seeing your family. Once again thank you for putting that man in his place.

Ismail:

It was my pleasure. I apologize on behalf of the real men of this world. I hope you reach your father’s funeral in time. I am sorry I just overheard your mother.

Ghada:

Thank you. I hope so too. The world has gone mad. Who would have imagined this happening to Syria?

Ismail:

As they say, “from the rubbles a new city shall rise.”

Ghada:

In Syria’s case it is a question of when will it end before everyone rises from the rubbles to build this new city! I never dreamt of a divided Syria. Hate and death knocking at the gates of Arab unity!

The women’s taxi driver in quick footsteps approaches the ladies.

Taxi Driver:

Miss Ghada and Madame Agha please we need to head back now before the rush.

Ghada:

Good luck again and goodbye.

Ismail:

Goodbye.

Ismail watches as the two women leave the customs building.

Ismail (to himself):

Goodbye Ghada Agha!

He looks at his Jordanian passport and flips one of its pages.

Ismail (reading to himself):

His Majesty The King Of Jordan requests all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely and without let or hindrance, and to afford them every assistance and protection necessary.

Only to those who bear it! Hmm!

A few moments later he realizes he is the last to leave the customs building. The atmosphere is desolate and lethargy governs the motion of everyone within the premises.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Late 2013

Sham

Ext. QASA3 neighborhood in Damascus, Syria. A MORTAR ROUND just landed on a CAR. PEOPLE are running in the streets.

Another explosion rattled adjacent buildings. A lot of windows shattered due to the pressure resulting from the explosion that left TWO vehicles in flame. It was a car bomb.

A WOMAN over forty with beautiful features and body rushes to her house’s balcony; what is left of it.

The woman falls down to her knees as she realizes that her home is torn open.

A MAN, her husband, rushes to the room.

Man:

Fadia. Fadia! Oh my God. Sham was sitting on the balcony with Yosra.

He leaves

Narration box:

The night before Sham dialed an international number. She did not know it would be the last time she talks to the man she fell in love a year ago on the campus of Damascus University’s Dentistry Faculty.

Sham:

I know how hard it is for you to book a flight to Beirut now. I wish to see you.

Ismail:

I know. I am just not sure about the drive from Beirut to Damascus. I haven’t told you but I already booked a ticket for next week.

Sham:

Are you serious? Ismail are you sure you want to come. The flight from Amman to Beirut is rather safe but I am worried about the taxi trip.

Ismail:

I’ve made up my mind. If my idiot government did not close the borders I would be in Damascus with you and all the mortar rounds that are hanging in the skies won’t stop me from taking you to Al Nofara Café in Bahb Thoma! I miss you.

 Sham:

I miss you with every single cell in my body.

Ismail:

Did you set up the Skype account as I told you!

Sham:

Yes!

Ismail:

My father and mother will call your parents tomorrow to ask your hand in marriage. I want to take you away from this madness.

Sham is taken aback by the last sentence. Ismail’s voice faintly echoes through the telephone speaker.

Sham:

I want to be with you more than anything in this burning world but we talked about this.

Ismail:

I know but I want us to be together.

Sham:

Let us talk about this later. In the meantime have you been daydreaming?

Ismail:

Yes and writing too. I am writing a collection of short stories. It is called Sham’s Jasmine.

Sham:

Is it about someone I know!

Ismail:

No! It is about someone I know.

Sham:

Listen it is getting late. I have an early lecture tomorrow. I will call you after the lecture.

Ismail:

Do you have to go to the university? If it is up to me I would lock you in the house.

Sham:

And give what those bastards want? Our lives! I have to graduate this year so I can start a practice. Don’t you want to marry Doctor Sham Jamal?

Ismail:

I do! I do! Very well but you be careful and try to get home as quick as possible.

Sham:

I will. I love you. Good night habibi!

Ismail:

Goodnight.

Narration box:

And that’s how a life in the making ended; with a hopeful note of a better tomorrow. Fate had other plans. A day of mourning was in the making for a lot people in different countries.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Late 2008

The New Iraq

Ext. The SUN is two hours away from setting. Gray BUILDINGS line the BAGHDADI HORIZON. A large dust CLOUD indicates a nearby EXPLOSION.

Narration box:

Baghdad never looked more tired. Car bombs and suicide bombers have spread like blisters on the skin of a leper, who just refuses to die. The city’ gray concrete color comes out as broken skin, and its people are the blood flowing through its vein-like streets.

EXT. An old BUILDING façade reflective of the architecture style of the 70s. A MAN can be seen looking down from one of the building’s windows. He looks rather composed. His name is Masoud Daoud, he is one of the lawyers, who worked in building a case against Saddam. He is talking to his secretary; a woman with distinct handsome Iraqi features.

Masoud:

Not a day passes without a cowardly suicide bombing. What do they benefit from killing people, who just finished praying to Allah? Iraq is heading to nowhere Maram.

Maram:

We cannot lose hope Mr. Daoud. You of all people should feel proud to have been part of Iraq’s liberation.

Masoud:

  What liberation Maram? The tyrant, who many in the Arab world now mourn, is gone but far more vicious monsters have come in his place. Iraq is filled with Hydras and no Hercules.

Narration Box:

They found Saddam Hussein but they haven’t found his cache of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Saddam Hussein, a much feared and loved Arab leader, dictator and executioner, was hanged on Saturday 30th December 2006.

INT. MEN CLAD in BLACK MASKS approach a MAN, whose hands are tied, from behind. SADDAM can be seen with a rope on his neck. His EYES are as brutal as ever.

Narration Box:

It is 2008 and they still haven’t found the excuse that Bush and his administration used to divide and conquer Iraq.

Maram:

You make it sound like you failed sir.

Masoud:

You make it sound like I’ve succeeded. Have you heard of Joha’s nail Maram?

The telephone rings. Maram picks it up.

Maram:

It is Richard from the Green Zone. George Bush has arrived and they’ve requested a meeting with you.

Masoud:

Great! Just what I and Iraq need at the moment: A puppet. How I wish if that shoe hit him in the face! You have to hand it to him the idiot has moves like Jagger!

Maram laughs. She adjusts Masoud’s tie and bids him farewell. He leaves the office. Maram heads towards a rusty filing cabiet and starts sorting out some files.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Late 2008

The New Iraq

Ext. The SUN is two hours away from setting. Gray BUILDINGS line the BAGHDADI HORIZON. A large dust CLOUD indicates a nearby EXPLOSION.

Narration box:

Baghdad never looked more tired. Car bombs and suicide bombers have spread like blisters on the skin of a leper, who just refuses to die. The city’ gray concrete color comes out as broken skin, and its people are the blood flowing through its vein-like streets.

EXT. An old BUILDING façade reflective of the architecture style of the 70s. A MAN can be seen looking down from one of the building’s windows. He looks rather composed. His name is Masoud Daoud, he is one of the lawyers, who worked in building a case against Saddam. He is talking to his secretary; a woman with distinct handsome Iraqi features.

Masoud:

Not a day passes without a cowardly suicide bombing. What do they benefit from killing people, who just finished praying to Allah? Iraq is heading to nowhere Maram.

Maram:

We cannot lose hope Mr. Daoud. You of all people should feel proud to have been part of Iraq’s liberation.

Masoud:

  What liberation Maram? The tyrant, who many in the Arab world now mourn, is gone but far more vicious monsters have come in his place. Iraq is filled with Hydras and no Hercules.

Maram:

You make it sound like you failed sir.

Masoud:

You make it sound like I’ve succeeded. Have you heard of Joha’s nail Maram?

Fin … for now!

Thank you for reading my words.

Once again never help others build their dreams on the expense of your very own dreams.

Sardine, a.k.a, Mike V. Derderian, or the man behind the Brick in the Head dashboard

2015

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By Mike V. Derderian

“Ahla we sahla.”

“How are you Sami?”

“Fine. Zaman 3anak. What about you?”

“All is well. Drawing more and more.”

“Have a seat.”

“Thanks mano!”

“So what do you want to drink? How about ginger with lemon? It is quite good!”

This is how Sami Nazer, the owner of WIDE:SCREEN, and my friend greets me every time I pay him a visit. I try not to visit him a lot. Why? I always end up buying a comic book from his impressive and ever growing collection.

DSC_0071

You think this shelf is impressive. Wait until you see what the other shelves hold.

I have been meaning to write this blog post about Sami from a long time. Sami is an amazing friend. Let me give you a short background check about Sami – or at least a background check of what I know best about Sami.

Here we go:

One, he graduated from the American University of Beirut (A.U.B) with a degree in Graphic Design.

Two, he founded WIDE:SCREEN a couple of years ago.

Three, he is extremely cool under pressure.

Four, he is awesome.

Five, he knows his books and films.

Six, he gives great pieces of advice. Pieces of advice that I now listen to; or try to.

Seven, he is into photography.

Eight, he is a year younger from the founders of Samandal, a brilliant artsy comic book anthology that gets published in Lebanon. They went with him to the A.U.B.

9, he is a mean designer.

I met Sami four years ago. I met him when I walked into his place in hopes of selling advertising space for WAW Al Balad during my tenure as Managing Editor. It was sometime around 2009.

Launching WAW Al Balad, and producing it from scratch was an amazing experience – plus having an office in Al Balad Theatre was awesome. I produced four issues before moving on.

Now, back to my dear friend Sami. Sami did not place advertisements of his establishment in WAW Al Balad. Instead he came to the three day Marilyn Monroe screening I held at Al Balad Theatre.

Since I got to know him more Sami printed event posters for me, part of a project I was working on – a project that I am still working on it between jobs; made sure I had my fix of comic books; and remained a good friend, who I like to visit every now and then.

Of course going to his place in Swefieh opposite Al Wakalat Street is not just about buying comics. I really enjoy the conversations we have about design, illustrations, comics, his time at the A.U.B, and my background as an English literature student among many things.

How can you not like a man who gifted you Andy Riley’s The Book of Bunny Suicides when he paid your home a visit? To hell with plants; bottles of wine – I meant grape juice; and sweets. Bring me books.

So the answer is no you can’t. Then again maybe he was sending me some hidden messages.

“Here is a book to give you some ideas Mike!” No, he didn’t say that!

By the way Sami, if you are reading this, I really enjoyed it. Hopefully I will be able to produce something as good. Note to self: Take a bromance photograph with Sami the next time you visit him and post it at the end of this blog post.

At WIDE:SCREEN, and thanks to Sami, I finally got to meet Tank Girl, created by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin.

Tank Girl started kicking the world’s ass back in 1988. I was nine years old. Back then I was reading Mickey, Majed, Tarazan, Superman, Batman, Tin Tin , Tin Tin (the magazine), Lucky Luke and The Magic Carpet anthologies (a collection of translated Franco-Belg comics).

tank_girl

Tank Girl is kick ass and totally un-pc. She would  most probably hate 2013. Then again she wasn’t that much into the 90s either.

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I bought all four Tank Girl collections in chronological order. I bought a part every time I finished one.  

I now have the complete re-released anthology. I still have one book to buy. Actually a couple of books come to think of it.

These photographs were taken when Ibraheem Alawamleh and I paid Sami a visit.

I called Sami and told him that Ibraheem and I wanted to pass by for coffee. By the way Ibraheem happens to be a very talented cartoonist. He does crazy cartoon mash-ups with very slick lines.

Once we got there Sami ordered coffee for us and we started talking about comics. As our coffee arrived, a man and a woman entered the place and Sami had to look after them.

Ibraheem and I spent the following minutes going through the titles that Sami had just brought in. Nothing beats talking to another cartoonist about the art of cartooning and good comic books.

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Chew, written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, is one of the awesome titles that you can find at Sami’s place. The idea of a detective solving crimes by munching on dea … you know what? Get the book and read it. I never inserted spoilers in my movie reviews and I am not going to start now ;-}) 

The best part about going to WIDE:SCREEN is how Sami allows you to go through the titles he has at ease.Whenever I found myself facing a last copy that was neatly wrapped, Sami without hesitation would tell me to tear through the wrapper.

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If you get to visit Sami make sure you pick up The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, written by Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance), and illustrated by Gabriel Bá. It is one of those comics that you have to read.  

The moment you enter WIDE:SCREEN you will find yourself leafing through titles from different comic book imprints. You will find yourself turning into the same eight year old, who stood facing a kiosk in Down Town Amman, where hard and soft cover comic books were hung on a laundry line to entice potential buyers.

At Sami’s place you will find Japanese, French, British and American comics. A Japanese comic book of course is referred to as Manga.

Nothing beats reading a well-written and a beautifully illustrated French comic book. If it weren’t for Sami’s place I would have never read the beautifully layered The Professor’s Daughter by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert; or the surreal You Are There by Jean-claude Forest and Jacques Tardi. My love of French comics dates back to the first time I read Hergé’s Tin Tin, at my cousin’s place. You should try some!

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I am not that into Manga. I cannot say that I have read enough to say I love it or hate, but you can give me Osamu Tezuka, Yoshihiro Tatsomi, Shirow Masmune and Hideshi Hino comics any time of the day. You know what forget that first sentence. I fuckin love it!  

So there we were , three guys  who are into comics, art books and cinema, sharing our thoughts; and here I am sharing with you a friend I so much cherish; a friend who can spend hours talking to you about art, comics, illustration, design and film.

Note to self: Don’t forget the bromance photograph with Sami.
Photographs by Mike V. Derderian (Sardine). 

Tank Girl Cover Art by Jamie Hewlett

The illustrations below were published in Issue 5 of Daftar, a great design and illustration magazine that features the works of Arab creatives, launched by graphic designer, illustrator and artist Omar Al-Zo’bi.

The theme was censorship.

My fourth submission is slated for Issue 6. To those who don’t read Arabic you can find the translation of my comic’s text under Vol. 2.

Happy New Year all. May our words and imagination never be censored.

Thank you for following my blog :-})

Nippon Vol. 1 lr

Nippon Vol. 2

The Hulking Henchman:
Pucker up dear boy I want to be able to sew your mouth shut!

Prologue: 

Out story started when Arabs occupied the west and East Asia in 2012.

Liberties were imprisoned,

Imagination banned …

And thinkers reviled disbanded … 

This happened every where except in Japan where fierce Geishas rebelled and cowardly sheep committed Seppuku …

To be continued …

After finishing reading the e-mail it took me a few minutes to register what I just read. Craig Thompson is planning a trip to Jordan. The author of Good-bye, Chunky Rice (1999), Blankets (2003), Carnet de Voyage (2004) and Habibi (2011) will be in Amman.

More e-mails were sent; ice broken with one of the best graphic novelists in America and the world; amazing local artists got excited; and an unforgettable two day workshop was held at a cozy space located over a t-shirt shop.

Meeting Thompson was one of the best experiences I had; a sentiment the 17 local artists who participated in the workshop share with me.

Nawwar Jarrar; Salam Homoud; Sandra Dajani; Omar Momani; Linda Al Al; Ghadeer Jarrar; Ibraheem Awamleh; Maya Asad; Rana Mouallem; Diana Abadi; Tasneem Tamimi; Iona Fournier; Alexia de Tillesse; Basil Qa’dan; Reem Zeine & Farah Varouqa in addition to my friend Sami Al Nazer, the owner of WIDE:SCREEN the place where you can actually find great comic titles, are the amazing individuals with whom I spent two days at MlabbasUpstairs space with Craig Thompson.

 So here goes!

Me: How does it to feel to win four Harvey Awards, two Eisner Awards, and two Ignatz Awards?

Craig Thompson: Well I feel lucky to make a living drawing comics. I cannot think of anything better than that. The awards are icing on the cake. I worked in comics for a decade before making a living. I am pretty grateful. I get to make art and make a living from it. The awards are icing on the cake, and in a way they are not that important.

Me: Who is Craig Thompson in his own words?

Craig: I grew up in a rural Wisconsin. I am from a very working class family. My father was a plumber and my mother was a housewife. It was a very religious household and that’s what people might know from Blankets. My attachment to comics was somehow related to that working class up and religious upbringing. It wasn’t really a literate household. There weren’t a lot of books in the house. The only book in the house was The Bible. Comics was our introduction to visual arts through the Sunday Funnies in the newspaper. It also taught me how to read because you look at the pictures first and slowly the comprehension of what is in the world balloon grows on you. I learned to read from Peanut comics before I read children’s book.   

Me: How did growing up in a rural town influence your art and story in Blankets?

Craig:  I lived away from Wisconsin for 15 years. I moved to the West Coast; lived in Portland, Oregon. When I was a little kid all I wanted was to get out of Wisconsin.  It seemed like in the middle of nowhere. Now when I go back and visit it seems so beautiful to me. It is a very isolated experience. That’s from where my attachment to art came from. It was all about escapism and creating worlds outside of myself but as I got older art was more about connecting with reality and people. I certainly had nostalgia when I started Blankets: Nostalgia for an old relationship and a lot of longing for the place I came from in addition to winter.

 In every one of my books water is a character. In my first book the ocean is a character; in Blankets it is snow and in Habibi it is water shortage.

Me: It was quite brave to share your life in the way you did in Blankets. Were you hesitant when you published it?

Craig: I wouldn’t say it was brave as much as it was naïve. I was quite young back then. I didn’t expect many people to see the book. My first book sold 2000 copies in about two years so that is as big as I saw my audience.  I figured I would lose some of my readers along the way because it was a boring story about my life in a small town. It had an opposite effect and ended up having a lot of universal themes that people related to. I think it got past a hundred thousand domestically let alone internationally. I was worried nobody would relate to this little kid growing up in a small town in a very conservative Christian family. In fact I think there are themes in there that ended up being universal like family, coming of age and spirituality.

If I was self-aware when I’ve done the book I wouldn’t have done it.

 Me:  So what are you doing in Jordan?

Craig:  I am being hosted by the American Embassy in Amman. We’ve done a bunch of workshops around graphic novels with the Holy Institute for the Deaf in Al Salt. Those are a bunch of children 5 to as old as 18; all deaf. For a lot of them comics is a totally new concept but at the end of the workshop they were churning out comics like it was nobody’s business.

Then we did Princess Basma Youth Resource Center here in Amman. They are all super talented artistically. All of them were fine artistically.   

Me: You worked with kids who are now motivated and want to do comics. What is the next logical step to do after you leave?

 Craig: In three days we put together a booklet with both groups. If you can do a book in three days you can do a book every month. You can do a book every month. That would be a great exercise because you would stay in shape creatively. If I don’t draw for a day, a week or a month I feel week. It is like a constant discipline.

 Me: It took you seven years to produce Habibi!tell me about that.

 Craig: That was too long. There was a sort of a block at first. It was mostly because of the success of Blankets. I toured for a year to promote and for almost nine months I didn’t have a home and also got distracted by the business of finally making a living from comics. Habibi started in modest intentions but grew into a bigger project than I anticipated. I spent two years writing it and four years drawing it. The last year involved production work. I was fighting for every element.  I had already pre-sold the book for eight foreign publishers, who released it on the same day on September 8, a year ago. Being on this trip is the anniversary of the debut of Habibi.

Me: All the research that went into the Arabic language and calligraphy reflects so beautifully in your Habibi. Was it difficult?


CT:
That was the primary visual fuel: The Arabic calligraphy to me is a form of comics. It is the perfect fusion of words and pictures; and the words themselves become these visually beautiful objects with musicality, rhythm and flow. The research was a pleasure but at a certain point it becomes procrastination; after a while it was time to stop researching and learning things to start collaging your own ideas.

 Me: How did you not go crazy with all that work?

CT: Well,you do go crazy and I think that’s part of the point. Art making is similar to a long term a relationship. If you leave at the first sign of struggle you don’t learn anything about yourself and you don’t grow. The whole point of art and perhaps long term commitment is to draw a lot of elements out of your subconscious and a lot of darkness, confront them and work through these issues. You just have to stick with it otherwise you don’t grow.

This interview was published in Go Magazine‘s October issue. Don’t forget to keep a lookout for Part 2 of Blankets Over Amman: Graphic Novelist Craig Thompson in Jordan.

I wish to thank Miss Reem Abdulhadi, Cultural Affairs Assistant at the Embassy of the United States; Miss Karin M. Ehlert, public diplomacy officer at the Embassy of the United States, for bringing Craig to Jordan.; and thank Imad Shaw, Mlabbas founder and CEO, without whom we wouldn’t have had a lovely space.

The biggest thank you goes out to Craig Thompson :-})

 To learn more about Craig Thompson and his work visit his lovely website: http://www.dootdootgarden.com/

 

Watchmen …

“How do you summarize a graphic novel of this magnitude? Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gobbons Watchmen is about deconstructing the caped and masked superhero genre turning them into humans with obvious and hidden fault-lines.

It also has a comic within a comic storyline. A very dense read that is worth the re-read once you are done and survived its slow pace. Introduced a new era of anti-heroes and heroes and probably influenced the current Batman graphic novels that tackled the caped crusader’s inner angst and psychological issues.

Zack Snyder’s movie was quite faithful to the graphic novel-You can say it was a panel by panel rendition. A lot of missing parts from the movie will astonish you once you start reading the book.”

I wrote the above paragraphs part of a lecture about the history of comics two years ago.  So much has happened since then. I started illustrating and drawing more.

The following images in this blog post are part of a series of minimal posters that I’ve started doing over a period of six months. They were produced using Adobe Illustrator CS5 & Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Each print (size A2 – 23.4 x 16.5 in) is from a limited edition of 100 and are available for sale at Mlabbas’ Upstairs space.

Prices:

Framed: 65 JDs
Unframed: 40 JDs

I hope you liked them :-}) The below images showcase how I created them using Adobe Illustrator vectors.

When the time is right and after I finish a few projects I will return to their amazing universe with The Minutemen series as suggested by my friend Sami Nazer :-})

For of my work as Sardine check out my portfolio: http://www.behance.net/mikevderderian

Palestinian Cartoonist Naji Al Ali was gunned down by the silencer gun of an unknown assailant. The finger that pulled the trigger was unable to silence the voice that lived on in his images and his most famous creation: Hanthala.

He was the father and Hanthala was the son. The strength of his words and lines were the holy ghost with which many people and comic artists lived by finding hope and solace in his black and white lines.

Al Ali died for many reasons. The one that resonates loud at this time and age since his untimely departure is the power of the word, the line and that of comics. Whoever killed him feared his words and his images.

Ali’s death like the death of Argentinian journalist and comic auteur Héctor Germán Oesterheld, who disappeared in 1977,  fueled the fire that was brewing within political cartoonists and comic artists around the world. It is 2012 and the art of cartooning and comics is as strong as ever and feared by corrupt politicians and leaders.

Sadly in this part of the world, the Middle East, comics and comic artists are still looked upon as a threat. Look what happend to Syrian comic artist Ali Farzat, who dared and drew Bashar Al Assad in an unflattering way. He was abducted, beaten to a pulp and his arms were broken. That’s another blog post by the way!

Forgive me if I don’t cover the entire history of this amazing art medium in tonight’s post. I will but in another post in which I will revisit with you the human casualties of this art form that was always and will be associated with the freedom of speech. Let us say for now, if it weren’t for artists and writer like Al Ali and Oesterheld the comics of today would live in fear. They not only gave their lives to their way of life but to the way of life of others like myself who believe in the power of the word and the line that interconnects to create a drawing.

Three days ago in 1987 Al Ali died but his work hasn’t. Hanthala is as alive as ever. The above poster is a tribute to a small part of me that is Palestinian. I am someone who loved Ali’s drawings but did not know much about him.

No one drew Palestine the way he did. The man’s work is like a fragmented eternal love poem of pain, death, angst, pride and dedication to his tormented mistress Palestine.

It is time for me to stop writing so you can Google this amazing artist. If you happen to be in Down Town Amman make sure you get a copy of his works from Abu Ali’s Kiosk and Al Jaheth Kiosk. Just ask about Naji Al Ali. Tell them he is an old friend and you miss seeing his poignant drawings.

“Drawing to me is a profession, a job and a hobby. Even though I’ve been working as a caricaturist for over 20 years now, I’ve never felt satisfied with my work. Sometimes I feel helpless in my inability to employ this expressive language in conveying my angst as it is quite immense. Still, drawing gives me an inner balance; it consoles me and at the same time tortures me. I often say that the caricatures I draw make me a fortunate man, and luckier from others, as it allows me to vent out my anxieties; others may die of the anguish that burdens their hearts and injects its daily dose of venom in their blood system. Seeing these people makes me realize that drawing consoles me,” Al Ali says.

Naji Al Ali quote translation by Sardine

Poster by Sardine

What’s the best way to start a presentation about comics and graphic novels? Stack all the comics and graphic novels you have and photograph them, maybe!

The excerpts and photographs of comics and graphic novels are part of a presentation I did for the launch of Palestine: The Graphic Novel, a collective anthology with over 30 amazing artists, on November 6, 2010, in Amman, Jordan.

The graphic novel is in the design process and will be published once funding for printing is found. I will keep you updated.

This is the original transcript of my presentation [I will soon publish the one in Arabic].

Palestine: The Graphic Novel & the Art of Comics & Graphic Novels Presentation

By Mike V. Derderian

First and foremost excuse my Arabic that I love in the form of prose yet don’t exactly understand grammatically; thanks to inane and conscious-free teachers.

What are comics and graphic novels?

I am not going to take you back to the caveman days, nor will I take you to the beginnings of storytelling or novels.

Let us just say that comic books and graphic novels belong to an art-form that fuses words with images.

Why did this fusion come to be?

To give a story, a character or a cause another dimension!

Had Johann Gutenberg, who invented the printing press, been an illustrator he would have opted to illustrate the Holy Bible instead of printing it.

Gutenberg sadly died poor.

Another example on how not all creative people make good money out of their creativity especially writers in the Middle East.

Actually William Blake, the English poet and engraver, did that. He created engravings of scenes and stories from the Holy Bible. The man was so creative that he illustrated his own poems. Blake is probably one of the first graphic novel writers and illustrators in the world.

Last night and while I was preparing my presentation I reminded myself to keep things simple and not try to come out as a know-it-all as I don’t know it all – I am not; I am still a student learning how to make comics.

You’ve all probably heard of Joe Sacco’s Palestine in which he brilliantly fuses the art of comics with journalism. After spending two months in the West Bank, Gaza and the Occupied Territories Sacco wrote and illustrated a total of 280 pages.

Upon reading Palestine I asked myself, “what is stopping us from creating such a work that reflects our ideas and vision as Arab writers and illustrators?”

This question is the main reason why we are here tonight; to work together on producing Palestine: The Graphic Novel.

Many artists and writers have expressed their ideas and visions of Palestine before us, however, not in a collective comic book or graphic novel format.

Our graphic novel and through the imagination of the participating writers and illustrators will not only be about the pain, death and tragedy that have surrounded the lives of Palestinians since Al Nakba in 1948 but will also be about their innate hope and optimism.

“What do we want to achieve through this cultural-artistic-literary project?” someone might ask.

A graphic novel about Palestine. Of course the proceeds from the sale of our graphic novel will go to a charity in Palestine.

I was at Books@Cafe buying comics when the young lady at the cashbox with a shy disposition suggested that I buy a book by Mostafa Nimer Da3mas and Mahmoud Al Aza about Naji Al Ali and Hanthala entitled, Hanthala: The Immortal Eye Witness. I did!

For someone who loved Naji Al Ali’s drawings but did not know much about him I found the book very useful.

This is a quote by Al Ali and that I believe summarizes the reason behind my passion and the passion of many, who are present here tonight, for this medium.

“Drawing to me is a profession, a job and a hobby. Even though I’ve been working as a caricaturist for over 20 years now, I’ve never felt satisfied with my work. Sometimes I feel helpless in my inability to employ this expressive language in conveying my angst as it is quite immense. Still, drawing gives me an inner balance; it consoles me and at the same time tortures me. I often say that the caricatures I draw make me a fortunate man, and luckier from others, as it allows me to vent out my anxieties; others may die of the anguish that burdens their hearts and injects its daily dose of venom in their blood system. Seeing these people makes me realize that drawing consoles me,” Al Ali says.

This applies to most of us, and more likely all of us.

It is the scenario that governs our lives since the moment we discovered the amazing images that we can create through pencil lines on paper: Our addiction to drawing.

Some smoke, some chew gum, some draw and some do all three …

Today and in the upcoming days we will bring together the three elements of comics and graphic novels:

– Writing … manifested in the writers present today …

– Illustration … manifested in the illustrators present today …

– Coloring … manifested in the artists and painters present today …

Even calligraphy and lettering is an important element in comics and graphic novels.

The most important aspect about Palestine: The Graphic Novel is that it is going to be bilingual (Arabic and English) in order to reach everyone.

Some pages are still white and some lines empty … help us fill them out and be part of Palestine: the Graphic Novel.

This is probably the first graphic novel panel in the world, on a cave wall from somewhere around the world.

Little Boy:

Mommy! Daddy and Uncle are going to hunt wild animals and won’t take me with them? 

The ancient ones knew how to illustrate and design but they weren’t much into writing yet.

Had Johann Gutenberg, who invented the printing press, been an illustrator he would have opted to illustrate the Holy Bible instead of printing it. 

Gutenberg sadly died poor. Another example on how not all creative people make good money out of creativity especially writers in the Middle East.

Actually William Blake, the English poet and engraver, did that. He created engravings of scenes and stories from the Holy Bible. 

The man was so creative that he illustrated his poems. Probably one of the first graphic novel writers and illustrators in the world. 

This one is entitled Eve’s Creation

Another William Blake masterpiece. 

This one is entitled: Expulsion from Paradise

Joe Sacco, Brilliantly fused the art of comics with journalism. After spending two months in the West Bank, Gaza and the Occupied Territories Sacco wrote and illustrated a total of 280 pages.

Sacco brilliantly captures the details of a Palestinian neighborhood. His art is a fusion of the Clear Line style with his own styling of both characters and surroundings.

Zionist soldiers in Ramallah. Sacco’s Palestine is filled with narration boxes and detail: Truly the work of a journalist, who has an eye for detail.

Sacco demonstrating the hardships that Palestinians undergo when traveling around Palestine.

A touching image of two women talking to their relatives through a barrier. Another brilliant panel by Sacco that reflects reality.

Comic books and graphic novels worth reading: 

Let us quickly go through some comic books and graphic novels that are part of my book collection and that I hope you will be able to read one day.

Many Arab artists covered Palestine in their writings and illustrations especially caricaturists, whose one panels rely on the one arch story-line and visual. This is an amazing panel by Mahmoud Hindawi, an amazing artist.

It is very important for us, as aspiring comic artists and cartoonists, to acknowledge the works of other comic artists especially those who have started before us like renowned and veteran cartoonists Jalal Al Rifai and Emad Hajja in addition to younger cartoonists like Cartoonist Omar Al Abdalat, Mahmoud Hindawi and Mohammed X Afefa. The Cartoonist is a book that features the works of some of the former comic artists and others.

Of course no one drew Palestine the way Naji Al Ali did. The man’s work is like a fragmented eternal love poem of pain, death, angst, pride and dedication to his tormented mistress Palestine.

Hanthala: The Immortal Eye Witness by Mostafa Nimer Da3mas and Mahmoud Al Aza. “Drawing to me is a profession, a job and a hobby. Even though I’ve been working as a caricaturist for over 20 years now, I’ve never felt satisfied with my work. Sometimes I feel helpless in my inability to employ this expressive language in conveying my angst as it is quite immense. Still, drawing gives me an inner balance; it consoles me and at the same time tortures me. I often say that the caricatures I draw make me a fortunate man, and luckier from others, as it allows me to vent out my anxieties; others may die of the anguish that burdens their hearts and injects its daily dose of venom in their blood system. Seeing these people makes me realize that drawing consoles me,” Al Ali says.

I wanted to share with the attendees some of the books that shaped my imagination like this volume of Mickey and Batoot, which is Arabic for Donald. 

When I asked those who read these books to raise their hands everyone present did. Almost all of us read the same stories and comic books … yet we all found our different inner voices and styles as writers, illustrators and visual artists.  The interaction really encouraged us and we are looking forward to working with those who are on board.

In the Middle East The Smurfs are known as Sanafar, whoever coined the name when the series was being dubbed in Lebanon is a genius.  The Smurfs are the creation of Belgian Cartoonist Peyo, whose real name is Pierre Culliford. 

This is one of two albums that were popular back in the 1980s. The majority of comic books, like this book, were translated to Arabic by Lebanese Publishing Houses.

This 1987 volume was more like a comprehensive children’s magazine published in Egypt. Original Mickey Mouse and Donald stories were translated into Arabic with a dose of Egyptian humor.  The Egyptian publishing houses also published Mickey Jeep (a pocket sized Mickey mouse magazine with other Disney Characters) and Mickey’s Magazine. They were highly entertaining especially if you were into Duck tales ;-})

3antara Magazine, was a comics magazine produced by a Lebanese publishing house, Besat El Ree7, the Magic Carpet. Only this time its content was original and according to the magazine one line editorial, “drawn by university graduates.”

3antara is the name of Antarah ibn Shaddad, a.k.a Antarah Al Absi, was a poet and a warrior, who rose to prominence even though he was the son of an Ethiopian slave impregnated by a powerful tribal leader.

You don’t have to know and read all the comic books and graphic novels in the world but you have to know Tin Tin or Lucky Luke. Actually you have to ;-}) 

Herge’s The Adventures of Tintin (Les Aventures de Tintin) are among the most enduring and renowned comic series in the world. It is about a young journalist, his faithful dog, an alcoholic captain friend and absent minded professor.

Together the three or four counting Tin Tin’s dog Milou.

Lucky Luke was created by Belgian cartoonist, Maurice De Bevere a.k.a Morris.

Reading Lucky Luke equals watching a Western full of cliches that wouldn’t be passed by any politically correct editor. Disregard the cliches and you’ve got yourself one of the best cowboys from the west and to be more specific from Belgium.

You might as well look up Asterix, a series of French comic books by Rene Goscinny (writer) and Albert Uderzo (illustrator).

A children’s book by Maurice Bernard Sendak, an American writer and illustrator. Amazing visuals that sort of reflect everyone’s childhood especially the uber-imaginative.

Sendak is best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are. Imagination at its best. Kneading dough into a plane. You have to read it.

Who doesn’t know Abu Mahjoob! Emad Hajjaj over the years has managed to create a number of memorable characters. If you want to learn more about us and our habits and social norms this is the book to buy.

Not exactly a graphic novel Happens to Me of All People! is an original approach to the collaborative process between a writer and an artist.  Mohammad Tomaleh, who passed away, may he rest in peace, is one of Jordan’s renowned satirical writers.  Instead of illustrating his short essays Emad Hajjaj provided artwork that reflected the themes and spirit of Tomaleh’s pieces.

Hassan Everywhere is a book about illustrated dreams and poems written by its late writer Hassan Hourani. Hourani’s minimal illustrations and echoing words part of a jointed narrative are quite haunting and offer us a plethora of dreamscapes.

Samandal is one of the most successful comic magazines in the Middle East. The artwork reflects its Avant-garde approach to visuals and storytelling.

The brain child of Lebanese artists: Lena Merhej, Hatem Imam & Omar Khoury the dense magazine that comes in black and white is quite inspiring. It features the works of artists like Fouad Mezher, Ghadi Ghosn, Jana Traboulsi and Mazen Kerbaj.

P.S: ِ A group of Egyptian artists a few months ago launched a successful collective comic magazine entitledTok Tok Press on the name to check our their Facebook Page :-})  

Comics that have been often linked to children in spite of their often larger than life issues and topics discussed …

Charles M. Schulz’ Peanuts is the only reason why I grab a Jordan Times newspaper. Now I directly go to their website. 

Bill Waterson’s Calvin and Hobbes are quite the dynamic duo. A boy and a tiger. Won’t spoil the plot for you so try reading it to learn more about the amazing universe that Waterson created. Waterson’s stories are about childhood, unbounded imagination, growing up and pure child’s play mixed with angst. 

Hank Ketcham’s Dennis the Menace is a guide to mayhem and 101 on how to drive grown ups crazy. Simple illustrations with big words spoken by a cheeky kid.

Charles M. Schulz’ masterpiece about student angst and school blues. This should be included in our educational system’s curriculum!

If you thought The Ring was scary and creepy think again! Hideshi Hino is the man of horror. The Red Snake, which is the first in this series of Japanese maim and mayhem, is probably the best read in terms of storytelling.

Hino twists his Post World War II Tokyo memories into yarns of gruesome death and horror. Pure genius …

Three writers and illustrators and one character Phillip Marlowe, the relentless and unrelenting gum shoe. 

Film Noir at its best thanks to Raymond Chandler’s detective stories and central character Marlowe that in a way started the Film Noir genre that was solidified by a string of movies starring Hamphrey Bogart. 

It Rhymes with Lust is another example of Film Noir graphic novels. Quite fun to read thanks to its classic art and narrative.

R. Crumb is not for the coy and lighthearted. One of America’s most celebrated underground comic artists Crumb’s work is very sexual, crude and at times shocking.  His impressive illustration style will often make you overlook his shocking narrative.

Long before The Matrix movies there was Ghost in The Shell. Shirow Masamune’s cyber punk future graphic novel showcases a grim reality especially with the spread of techno terrorism and shady international affairs that quite prophetically reflect our present time after 9/11. 

Amidst all the chaos Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg operative from Section 9, an anti-terrorism tech unit, soon finds herself asking existential questions brought about by the union between man and machines.

Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ooku: The Inner Chamber Volume 1 is a historical fantasy.

The same way the Japanese have a thing for technology and robots they have a soft spot for sexually themed comics.

Sexuality is an area still not touched upon, at least directly, in Arabian comics.  Compared to other Japanese comics, which are internationally known as Mangas, derived from the word Mangaka, which translates to comic artist, Yoshinaga’s Manga is quite tame.  Her style is simply beautiful …

Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s The Push Man and Other Stories as the title indicates is a graphic novel in short stories format. The simple yet clear line style captures the bleak post World War II Tokyo.  In spite of his disturbing themes Tatsumi’s stories are quite realistic and universal.

The main story in Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s The Push Man and Other Stories. About a man whose job is to push as many people he can into the subway. Still analyzing the moral behind it and will soon post it here ;-})

If you’ve seen the movie you’d say that V is a freedom fighter; if you read this graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. You’d realize that there is more to this masked vigilante than fighting a totalitarian government … and its not all pleasant and noble. 

Unlike the movie that centered around V and Evey Hammond there is more to this masterpiece than just two characters brought together by fate. 

Moore’s words and characters are driven by what drives us all: Survival in hard times. This is more like a political essay enhanced by an amazing narrative and illustration.  Little by little and with every page turned we notice how the lives of the many characters in this brilliant work of fiction are affected by V’s actions. 

V for Vendetta is quite the page turner and the movie was merely a chapter from its chapters :-}) Remember remember the fifth of November. We tried to make our launch on the 5th of November to coincide with Guy Fawkes Day. We couldn’t still it was great to see you all last night.

How do you summarize a graphic novel of this magnitude? Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gobbons Watchmen is about deconstructing the caped and masked superhero genre turning them into humans with obvious and hidden fault-lines. 

It also has a comic within a comic storyline. A very dense read that is worth the re-read once you are done and survived its slow pace. Introduced a new era of anti-heroes and heroes and probably influenced the current Batman graphic novels that tackled the caped crusader’s inner angst and psychological issues. 

Zack Snyder’s movie was quite faithful to the graphic novel-You can say it was a panel by panel rendition. A lot of missing parts from the movie will astonish you once you start reading the book.

Graphic novels are not just about caped superheroes, sci-fi, horror and romance; they can be about anything. 

Gareth Hinds decided to illustrate Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon poem about a hero and superman called Beowulf, who is out to save the court of King Hrothgar from an evil and man eating monster called Grendel. The poem is quite amazing. 

You’ve probably seen the animated version with Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother. Animating Angelina Jolie’s nude body and painting her in gold is not the best of ideas or is it ;-}) They even made her feet look like high heels! Robert Zemeckis what were you thinking?

In the poem Beuwolf doesn’t fall for Grendel’s mom at all. Anyway … Hinds’s graphic novel is a great example that we as writers and comic artists can write and illustrate any story we want from our own folklore and history; this is the essence of Palestine: The Graphic Novel. 

Graphic Novels can be about real stories, people and countries, and can be the work of fiction. I should have included Ho Che’s graphic novel, King, about Martin Luther King, in my presentation. It is quite unique in style and narrative. 

This is a link to a video teaser about Ho Che’s graphic novel: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4nz20_martin-luther-king-graphic-novel-ho_creation

I don’t recommend this to anyone with existential issues as it is quite depressing. I was barely able to finish it.

If you thought the movie starring Will Smith was bleak this is bleaker! We want to create stories that also inspire and reflect hope.

Each and every writer, illustrator, painter, singer and poet participating in Palestine are free to choose the theme, spirit and style of their story. On the 26th & 27th of November we are going to have a literary-artistic get-together between 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. during which each and everyone one of us will present his or her story. We simply want to inspire each other!

Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novels, The Story of a Childhood 1 & The Story of a Return 2, bounded in one volume [the one you see above], are about her family and childhood in Tehran. 

Persepolis is an inspiring graphic novel about coming of age, consciousness, moral thinking, freedom, kindness, loss and above all creativity and imagination unbound.

As the title suggests this book is about the right to be hostile, the right to express your own thoughts and above all the right to be you ;-}) Aaron McGruder leaves no stone unturned in his scathing yet funny critique of the United States of America, Afro-Americans and everyone else. 

His characters Huey and Riley Freeman verbally abuse and bat everyone into a pulp. If you need to know they are only kids. Even George Lucas’ Jar Jar Binks and Lucas himself get their fair share of beating ;-})

Highly political, socially conscious, witty and full of punch-lines The Boondocks Treasury [The Right to Be Hostile] is a book you won’t be able to drop once you pick it up. It is a visual Stand Up Comedy routine in graphic novel format. Why did I include it in my presentation? To simply say that each and every one of has the right to write about anything he or she want especially for Palestine.

Thanks to Jeph Loeb (writer) and Tim Sale (artist) my love for the caped crusader was re-ignited. 

The Long Halloween is basically Batman vs. the Mafia, The Joker, Scarecrow and Catwoman in addition to other interesting characters. It also introduces Harvey Two Face and gives Commissioner Gordon a far superior role like in the recent Christopher Nolan movies, however, this graphic novel is far better than both movies. 

The term graphic novel came to prominence when comic series, like this 13-issue story, were bounded in one book. The same applies to all the graphic novel that I’ve included in my presentation. Before being published as graphic novels Ghost in the Shell, V For Vendetta and Watchmen were published in monthly issues. 

The illustration gives Batman a fresh outlook and to Ghotham City a twisted feel.  The muscular and clear line style was abandoned to give the blue and gray costumed Batman a surrealistic and dreamy feel that can never be achieved through film in fear it might end up Adam West campy.

Before reading Art Spieglman’s Maus I and II I decided that I should read Joe Sacco’s Palestine.

Palestine has always been in my mind since 1948. I know that my hand and the hands of the artists, who will participate in this artistic endeavor is not in the fire like those who are under fire in Palestine, but our hands can most certainly draw what our eyes can see, ears hear and hearts feel. 

In Maus Speiglman writes and draws his father’s story, a holocaust survivor, in which Jews are depicted as rats, Nazis as cats, Poles as pigs, the French as frogs and the Americans as dogs. 

Both graphic novels Palestine and Maus offer an in-depth look in two different mind sets: The occupier and the occupied; the hangman and the condemned; the murderer and the victim.

Fin

To learn more about Palestine: The Graphic Novel and the participating artists go to our Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/gkQIUl

P.S: Thank you Anna Mudd for reminding me that I have to post this presentation on my blog. Life is all about sharing the knowledge and experiences :-})

Blog photographs: “Comic Books on a Cardboard Background by Mike V. Derderian