FATHERLAND – dispatches from the cave


Hey peeps, sorry for the lack of posts; I’ve been too busy working on my next book which, I am glad to say, is three quarters done already. The working title of the book, and I think most likely the title I will stick with is Fatherland. The book is due to come out in the summer of 2014 with Cape Graphic/Random House. I’ll keep you posted about the progress.

 Working on the full-length graphic narrative has proven to be a bit of a challenge since I generally prefer the short-story format. I expect Fatherland to have approximately 120 pages, broken into two parts, which will eventually come together near the end.  I’ve chosen the two-part format for the simple reason that it reflects duality presented in the book: maternal – paternal, nationalist – communist, old country – new country and so on.

 Even though the content is biographical, and partially autobiographical, I did my best to remain neutral as a narrator, as well as reduce the levels of “sentimentality”; the same goes when it comes to expressing my own political views. I found this approach liberating; the neutral stance allowed the story to unfold organically and the characters to express themselves freely; it will also allow the reader to form his/her own opinion. The last thing I want to do is create a propaganda pamphlet. We’re already bombarded by propaganda one way or another, day in and day out. An honest account of how the opposing religious and political ideologies have affected, and continue to affect one family should be enough for the readers to draw their own conclusions and project it in whichever way they choose to.

While we’re on this subject of the “organic unfolding of the narrative”, let me just say one thing: the book as it stands now, with its 85 finished pages does not resemble the final draft (of about a dozen in total) of the manuscript, whatsoever. Perhaps this is the case because the story is so personal or because I have no recollection of any of the events described in the book. In actuality, the entire narrative has been composed out of first and second-hand testimonies, from my mother, my sister, my grandmother and a handful of relatives; any existing gaps were filled with historical facts in order to familiarize the reader with the political climate surrounding the events as described. The original manuscript took about a year to complete. When I began working with pencils the book took on a whole new life – it began reflecting the events in the exact same sequence as they came to my knowledge in real life; the best way to describe how the narrative unfolds is to compare it to a giant jigsaw puzzle which took thirty five years to solve.

I’ve never been a big fan of puzzles; partially because I was never really good at solving them. Also, this ability to remain objective while reconstructing the events that have shattered my family feels very much like finding myself in a psychiatrist’s office while playing the role of both, the shrink and the patient. It’s freakin’ exhausting! And that’s all on top of twelve-hour work days. Twelve hours of cross-hatching and stippling; twelve hours of slipping into what most people assume is a meditative state. No, that is twelve hours a day of facing shit! And twelve hours of working up an astronomically large chiropractic bill.

A few days ago I posted an update on my Facebook page: “Drawing Tito and Draza Mihailovic on the same page. Fuck both of them! After I’m done with this book I’m switching to comedy.” To which a friend replied with: “Tragicomedy”. And I was, like: “yeah, whatever…” Because I knew he was right. The truth is that after a full day of working and “facing stuff” I go off to bed, and I slip into the dream world while planning out the layout for Fatherland II. And then I dream about it. Call me crazy but there’s nothing else I would rather be doing right now. Love you all.


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