Draw a Refugee, and a review of Threads From the Refugee Crisis by Kate Evans

Open Borders

refugee

As refugees flee war and persecution, and as governments strike deals to limit and funnel the flow, certain areas become bottlenecks for refugees on the move. They are stuck in limbo, in summer tents, in overcrowded camps that are beyond capacity, as the winter approaches yet again. Overcrowding, lack of clean water and sanitation, lack of mental health services all plague the camps. Nobody would want themselves or their families to be stuck like this. The refugees have been using the tool of nonviolent protest to bring attention to their situation. Now is the time for governments to step up and relocate them to safe areas. One such bottleneck is Greece. This is a comic I made describing the conditions of the camps on the Greek Islands, where thousands of refugees are stranded, waiting for an extremely slow bureaucratic process of asylum.

After making this comic, I found a graphic novel at the library that deals with similar issues:

Graphic Novel Review

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom. It was the age of foolishness.”

Threads from the Refugee Crisis By Kate Evans (UK, 2017)

Why you should read this book:

If you would like to learn more about refugees, so you can take the next step and help them

If you are interested in journalism and comics

If you are a fan of Joe Sacco’s Palestine, Safe Area Gorazde, and books like Harvey Pekar’s Macedonia: What Does It Take to Stop a War, and Sarah Glidden’s Rolling Blackouts.

Read my review here.

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Comics @ the Arab American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan

comics

This Spring, I visited the Arab American Museum in Dearborn Michigan, for the first time. It just so happened that they also had an exhibit of comics there! Which was awesome. The comics were by Leila Abdelrazaq, an artist whose work I am familiar with; I have read her graphic novel Baddawi and highly recommend it.

There were four main things to see at the exhibit of comics. Circled around the room were framed original artworks by Leila, from her graphic novel and comics. It was neat to see another artist’s original inked pages. As an observer, you can imagine how the inked page gets scanned into the computer, and how the cartoonist edits and finalizes the page on the computer. Usually, it’s just a few finishing touches and minor details. There were even rare pages that were not included in the final comic, because they were redone. You could see how she changed and revised the layout of these pages, until they turned out the way she wanted. For cartoonists, this is part of the composition and story telling part of making a comic/graphic novel.

On the back wall was a large mural that Leila painted, featuring a map and a cartoon of a young refugee boy named Handala. Comic fans, especially those in the Arab world, may recognize Handala, who was created by the cartoonist Naji Al-Ali. Naji published work featuring Handala from 1975 to 1987, and it rates up there with some of the best comics ever made. They are very visual comics, usually you don’t even need words to understand them. His comics achieved world-wide fame and success before his life was brutally cut short by assassination. (You can learn more about Handala at www.handala.org) It’s easy to tell that this cartoonist is a big influence on Leila’s work. On the cover of Baddawi is a drawing of her father as a young child, who is one of the main characters in the book. The pose he is standing in mirrors how Handala was typically drawn.

Another thing to see was a video of the cartoonist, where she explained a bit about herself. And there were some new comic books by Leila, which you can find online. There was also an advertisement for a comic book-making workshop for teenagers, which was hosted by the cartoonist at the museum on a later date.

I thought it was a great idea for the Arab American Museum to focus an exhibit on graphic novels/comics and this artist, and I enjoyed the professionalism and presentation of the exhibit, as well as the work of the cartoonist. There were also some comics for sale in their gift shop. I hope to see an exhibit like this again some time. I also enjoyed the rest of the museum, it’s worth checking out, you can easily spend an hour or two in there; and there is tons of great Middle Eastern food nearby in Dearborn.

Qahera

comic cons

My cousin, Lightning Khan, is into reading comic books and graphic novels. She told me about her friend, Deena, a comic book artist, who lives in Saudi Arabia. Her work is about the Female Superhero. http://qaherathesuperhero.com/index

What does it mean to be a Female Superhero? What does it mean to be a Female Superhero, in an Arab country? What does it mean to be a Female Superhero, in America? What does it mean to be a Female Superhero, all around the world?

To find out more, read her blog, and check out the web comic.

This September, her webcomic, “Qahera,” won the award for best digital comic series at the Cairo Comix Festival.  Congratulations!