First and foremost excuse my Arabic that I love in the form of prose and poetry yet don't 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 found myself going through one of Hassan Manasrah's Fabcebook albums. His amazing work and the work of other artists in Jordan reminded me to keep things simple during my presentation and not try to come out as a know-it-all as I don't know it all.
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 at The Studio; 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 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; establish a creative dwelling for creative people, The Studio, an amazing art house run by four amazing female artists, where writers, poets, illustrators and artists can work together on more graphic novels.
The proceeds from the sale of our graphic novel will go to a charity in Palestine.
Laila Demashqieh, my friend, and who has been working with me since day one on this project will tell you more about our plans.
I was at Books@Cafe buying comics when the young lady at the cashbox with a shy note 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 t