#MeanwhileHereComics #การ์ตูนที่นี่ Challenge 1/2

As an individual assignment for the “Creative Writing Section 11 [Experimental & Fiction Comics Composition]” (International Program, Faculty of Communications Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand), students were asked to explore the concept of “windows on time in a single place” developed by American cartoonist Richard McGuire with his two stories titled “Here” (1989 in the pages of RAW, and 2014 as an extended graphic novel). The complete groundbreaking graphic narrative can be read on this post: “Here” by Richard McGuire. Some of our students’ comics are displayed below in this post. More will be added soon.

First page (out of six) of the short comics Here by Richard McGuire, published in RAW Volume 2 #1, USA, 1989. Full story… here.

The graphic narratives produced by my Thai [and exchange] students were inventive and striking, as some explored not only the COVID-19 crisis but addressed social and political issues in a straightforward way, revealing Thailand’s traumatic decades made of military coups and bloody crackdowns. I guess the assignment came timely, capturing the frustrations of a new generation of young adults, revealing visually the overburduning and endless cycle of coups and sociopolitical struggles. With my students and with Richard McGuire’s approval, we decided to set the assignment as a challenge and invite everyone to take part, as we believe that in these times of self-isolation, it might be interesting to widen the limited and constrained space we now inhabit by exploring it through time.

“Like how does something happen, and… how does it reverberate through time? And that act of memory is important, and comics are great for memory. Like even when you have a short comic, like a three-panel comic, you’ve got a past, a present and a future as soon as you look at those three boxes. And that allows you to reflect and compare times.” (Art Spiegelman, in: Conan, N. (2011). MetaMaus: The Story Behind Spiegelman’s Classic; radio interview, Oct 5)


So here’s the layout that you are free to use [click on the image for larger version], and please add the hashtags #MeanwhileHereComics and/or #การ์ตูนที่นี่ (‘KatunTiNee’ which means “Here Comics” in Thai language) so that we can follow your artworks online.Thank you in advance for joining!Meanwhile Here Template

“Time, as cut into minute sausage slices and laid out on the [comics] page in an array from which larger connections and patterns may be sensed, is the cartoonist’s ‘paint’ or ‘clay.’ […] Trying to communicate the hugely incomprehensible yet indescriptibly fine texture of life in little reconstructions sort of mirrors the way we remember it… Really, when one come right down to it, in the end, that’s all we have: our memories!” (Chris Ware, in: Why I Love Comics. The New York Times , 2015)


#MeanwhileHereComics pages by students of the “Creative Writing Section 11 [Experimental and Fiction Comics Composition]” course. More will be added soon. In the captions below some pages, I’ve introduced links to some local/Thai events referred to in the graphic narratives. PS: I’m proud of my students’ hard and meaningful works. #ProudAjarn

Meanwhile Here by Jib
Click on page for larger size. Panel 1 [1932]: Siamese Revolution leading from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one. Panel 2 [1976]: Student protests and Thamassat University Massacre. Panel 3 [2006]: 2006 Coup d’Etat. Panel 4 [2014]: 2014 Coup d’Etat (and Red/Yellow Shirts conflict). Panel 5 [2030 & 3,000 Years Ago]: reference to 2020 news on the Government giving up part of prehistoric cave painting site for mining. Panel 5 [2020]: ongoing University Students Protests for a fairer democratic system.
Meanwhile Here by Mind
Click on page for larger size. Panel 3 [2019]: waves of harmful [Particulate Matter] PM 2.5 levels in the air.
Meanwhile Here by Palmmy
Click on page for larger size. Panel 1 [1934]: tree growing two after the Siamese Revolution leading from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one. Panel 2 [1976]: reference to the [graphic] photograph of Pulitzer Prize winner Neal Ulevich showing a junta supporter striking the lynched body of a student with a foldable chair in front of a cheering crowd, during the Thamassat University Massacre. Panels 3 and 5 [1976]: reference to the same photograph (lynched student). Panel 5 [2020]: ongoing University Students Protests for a fairer democratic system, with students making the “three-finger [Hunger Games] salute” in a sign of defiance against military rule. Panel 6 [2020]: COVID-19…
Meanwhile Here by Pim
Click on page for larger size. Panel 1 [2012]: reference to the Democracy Monument which commemorates the 1932 Siamese Revolution. Panel 4 [2020]: COVID-19…
Meanwhile Here by Proud
Click on page for larger size. Panel 4 [2020]: COVID-19…
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Click on page for larger size. Panels 1 and 6: Chinese-type funeral altar above which a portrait of the deceased person is placed.
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Click on page for larger size. Panels 3 and 6 [1868]: reference to the famous Thai ghost story Mae Nak (where the spectral nature of a female ghost is revealed to her husband when she stretches her arm oddly to pick a fallen lime).
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As these “constrained comics” & concept are quite challenging, composition was achieved over a couple of weeks, and with the submission of several drafts commented by yours truly… via the Line app due to current COVID-19 crisis. If you want to spot the differences, and see how every minute detail [from color to fonts or encapsulation] matters in comics composition where “each element is thus: one with everything” (Nick Sousanis in: Unflattening, comics dissertation published by Harvard University Press, 2015).

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“I Guess” by Chris Ware, USA, 1991

I Guess (a.k.a. “Thrilling Adventure Stories”) by Chris Ware (USA) in: RAW Vol 2, #3, High Culture for Lowbrows, Penguin Books, 1991. Via Glad You Asked.

Copyright ©1990 Chris Ware

If words can be drawn, and images written, then the tension between words and images can become quite complex. For example, in “I Guess” (Raw 2:3, 1991, reprinted in Ware, Quimby), alternative cartoonist Chris Ware experiments with a radically disjunctive form of verbal/visual interplay: a six-page story that sustains parallel verbal and pictorial narratives throughout, never quite reconciling one to the other […]. Admittedly, “I Guess” represents a radical questioning of the way comics work […]. Dismantling genre as well as form, Ware’s experiment demonstrates the potential of comics to create challenging, multilayered texts: his simple broadly representational drawings contribute to, rather than mitigate, the suggestive complexity of the narrative, while the blank naive narrational voice both amplifies and undercuts the appeal of the drawings. (Charles Hatfield, “Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature”, The University Press of Mississippi, 2005)


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PAGE 1/6 (colour version, 2003)

Interview with MIRIAM KATIN, USA/ISR, 2009

[Interview conducted in January 2009 through emails, initially published in the fifteenth issue of the zine XeroXed, Multi BD bookstore (Brussels, Belgium). First English publication on du9.org. With some ‘extra  content’ at the end of this new publication.]

In 2006, Miriam Katin (then aged 63) set on her 120-page graphic novel, We are on our own. This piece of information regarding her late debut in the comics medium is far from anecdotal — as it implies she was three years old during the Second World War, and the occupation of Hungary by German (and afterwards Russian) troops. The young Jewish child then experienced clandestinity during a voyage full of violence, death, betrayals and, for sole hope, a few rare selfless acts. The opportunity to explore the atypical carrier of an artist who, not unlike Debbie Dreschsler, feels the need to purge herself from the weight of her past.

NICOLAS VERSTAPPEN : You started working in the comics medium late (in 2000). What led you to this mean of expression ? Were you familiar with it ?

MIRIAM KATIN : My children (the boys are now 36 and 40) “raised me” on Tintin and Asterix, as we lived in Israel at the time. In the US these are not that popular and my kids were never into super heroes. I worked in animation in Israel and I was asked to create a comic series based on some commercials we had produced. That was in 1986 — I just did it and was hooked from then on.
However, I did my very first personal story only in 2000. I worked with some young people in MTV and Disney and they published an anthology of their own, Monkey Suit [The Bride of Monkeysuit, Vol.2, 2000], in which they included a short work of mine. The stories of my family and my childhood were like a constant running narrative in my mind. I am not a writer but I could draw and through comics I finally found a modest way to tell them.

NV : What led you to leave Israel for the USA in 1963 ?

MK : I finished my two years of conscription in the service and then, same as it is now, after the service you want to get the hell out of there and roam the world a bit.

NV : I guess your service in the Army was imposed ? What kind of job were you working on as a “graphic artist” in the Israel Defense Force ?

MK : Imposed yes, but I loved it all the way. A sheltered girl from well-mannered Budapest with over-protective parents, at eighteen I welcomed the freedom of Army life, in what I call the “terrible romance” of the military. (The odor of gun-oil is still sending me into a swoon. Youth, memories.)
What we mainly did, you can see on page 1, lower left panel of Live Broadcast [“En direct in: Qu’est-ce que la Bande Dessinée Aujourd’hui ?, Beaux Arts Éditions, France, 2008] which is the title of the work. We drew and wrote, on large black vinyl sheets with white oil paint, field instructions for using weapons and such. Sometimes it drove us nuts as we were not a very normal bunch anyway.

NV : You’ve worked mainly in animation. Do you feel that the art of storyboarding helped you in comics or that were there animation ‘habits’ you should get rid of for your graphic novel ?

MK : Most of my animation work was for background design but as I always sketched, mainly people in action from life, I think my comics have the dynamic of real movement. At least it was pointed out to me in various reviews.

NV : I feel some Raymond Briggs influence in your art. I’m maybe wrong but I had to ask…

MK : Raymond Briggs came up in many reviews of my work and I had to look up who he was. I did not know about him and other great comic artists as I actually I was really new to the comic world.

NV : You’re working with pencils (I think) and not ink. Why did you make this choice ?

MK : It just happened so naturally. Roughing out my first four-page comic I fell in love with the quality of the pencil line, the melancholy of the darkness and the grays seemed to express well what I wanted to say. When Chris [Oliveros, Drawn and Quarterly founder and publisher] came asking  “What about color ?”, I told him that I had always imagined that world and those times in black and white. Perhaps because I was most influenced by the photographs of those years. Most dramatically the few pictures taken of my father during the war.

NV : Your How the Irish defeated the Hebrews story in Rosetta Vol.2 [Alternative Comics, 2003]  is a great story. Different from the other stories I’ve read from you. The technique is different also. Was it to be more contemporary as the events were set in the ’80s and not the ’40s ?

MK : I always loved working with brush and ink. Somehow I got away from it, which is a real problem because it is so difficult to reproduce pencil work. So I just wanted to make that story look lighter and see if I still could do this kind of work. I loved it. Those years (1981-1990) by the Dead Sea I often worked in the kibbutz (Ein Gedi) which owned the Guest house and the Spa. Many decrepit veterans came and my coworkers used to point out to me how these old men still carried on among themselves. So near the ancient city of Sodom the air was thick with salt, sulfur, passion and intrigue.
By the way I am so glad that you noticed that piece How The Irish defeated The Hebrews in Rosetta. Nobody else did. I guess for the average comic reader it is difficult to get into.
On the subject of who reads comics, Drawn and Quarterly were hoping that my book could be a sort of crossover to older readers. It worked in a small way. Many of my parent’s generation bought it because of the subject. Some young people bought it as a gift for old relatives and friends who survived the war. On the other hand, it met disappointing sales for the Jewish institutions. That is probably because they are selling God and I am not.

NV : Was it some kind of a “trigger” that led you from the idea of drawing We are on our own to the moment you started drawing it ?

MK : After various smaller stories about my childhood the question still hung in the air : So, you were born in 1942 in Hungary. A Jew. How did you survive ? There must be a story. Yes, there was but also, my mother is alive (and well) and it seemed impossible to work on it. But after a while and with my publisher pressing for it… and saying to myself what am I waiting for here anyway ?… I roughed up a 35 page story. Chris Oliveros then suggested that I should expand it for a book.

NV : Do you share the idea that comic art is a medium that fits intrinsically to translate traumatic experiences ? With the amazing opportunity to have the choice between words, drawings (when words are too painful or for expressionist purposes), ellipses (separation between the panels) and intimacy (between the artist and the reader), comic art looks like a perfect form to translate the experience you’ve been through ?

MK : I believe you are right about that, but initially I did not realize this. Now I am certain about it. My third comic story Parfait (published in Viva la Monkeysuit [Monkey Suit Vol.3], 2001) was about a pedophile incident in Budapest, but I thought I was just looking for a strong story. Maybe it was true that time. The book, however was a very different story and when people started asking questions about catharsis I came to realize that they were right.

NV : On your website, you wrote : “In pictures and few words I am trying to find the line connecting events, people, causes and results”. I believe more and more (like Dylan Horrocks in his essay) that comic books are “maps” with pictures and few words. We travel into them to find out our way.
Your story Oh, To Celebrate ! in Drawn & Quarterly Vol.4 [Drawn and Quarterly, Canada, 2001] is a masterpiece in that sense. We travel back and forth in time to discover the weight of History. Was alcohol a shortcut to forgetting ?

MK : I just know that alcohol was always present in my life and in Europe during my childhood it was never a “no no” kind of thing like in the US. It became more of a habit during the army service. I don’t know if it is for “forgetting” or “helping to live with”. My husband thinks it might be.
One thing is sure. Whenever my my mother and I get together, and it can be any time of the day (except breakfast), first we have a drink. Nowadays it is Scotch. She is 90 years old. We have a very good time. Only after I completed the book did I come to the wonderful conclusion that this might be for us a ritual and a celebration.

NV : [French comics editor] Vincent Bernière  told me that your first meeting with Art Spiegelman was quite cold. Did you feel it that way ?

MK : First, second, third… yes. I was so excited and honored to meet him and I don’t know what I expected. What did I expect ? Maybe in comparison to the friendliness of others, he is very different. Perhaps it really bothers him that people constantly — no, not compare, they all know that nothing will ever stand to comparison with his work — bring up his name when they interview me. I am also very new in the field and people may see me as a dilettante or an interloper.

NV : Could you tell me more about your relationship to Maus, as it seems you have a complex relationship to that book ?

MK : Well, you know, the Holocaust (a rather new expression) was such a rarely talked-about subject. My family, the schools, no one talked about it, even in Israel.
And at the same time it was very personal for me. The loss, the pain.
Every production connected to the war, even if I would not read it or watch it, was expected to be very tragic and dark.
When I spotted Maus in the window display of a bookstore in Tel Aviv, I only noticed the fact that it seemed to be a cartoon sort of book with a Svastika on the cover. I was so repelled by it that I did not even want to touch it. Perhaps the store owners felt the same way because it was stuck in the very corner of the window on the floor.
It was about a year later in New York when I found myself working next to Simon Deitch. He and [his brother] Kim [Deitch] had a work published in RAW and I bought the book. One part of Maus was published in it and so I gave it a chance. Soon I bought books 1 & 2 and I must say it was for me as strong an expression of the Holocaust as any I had ever seen. So I finally “got it”. Animals and all.
RAW was also the very first example of serious comic works I came across.
They inspired me to do my first comic but Maus itself specifically gave me the “license” to deal with the my own memories and some of the stories I knew about our family.

NV : You’ve been working (mostly) on autobiographical stories. Never thought about fiction ?

MK : One work I did for Rosetta Vol.2, was based on a story by Suat Ng Tong, the publisher. This was not autobiography. In the same Rosetta issue, there also was the story with the old fighters still in “heat”, which is also not autobiographical. The Obama story [“Petite Cousine et Grande Histoire“] (in Le Tour du Monde en Bande Dessinée from Delcourt [France, 2008]), well, you could argue…
But yes, I do have an idea or two… but first there is just one more story… one that is very hard to write. My husband says I will never make it. My father… The love for him.

NV : So it would be a new book about your father ?

MK : Yes. I was really close to my father (he died in 1996) The parts in the book in which he appeared were the most difficult to work on, emotionally. My husband says I seem to be avoiding the next book in which he would have a big part. Maybe he is right.

NV : You wrote me : “A year ago my son Ilan decided to settle in Berlin, which was a shock to my Holocaust-related self system and I had to get through it and I will probably work it into a future story”. Do you see your stories as a cathartic way to get through issues you’re facing ? Or as an epilogue to those issues ?

MK : The book We are on our own was of course an epilogue but Berlin is different. It is happening now and Ilan just took up residence in that city. I am doing work on it, what else can I do ? Yes, in my mind I keep working on the story.
When Ilan decided to settle in Berlin the need for residency came up and the legality of him working in Germany. He found out that he can actually apply for Hungarian citizenship through my Hungarian birth. I am no longer a Hungarian citizen but it still works. Rules change. Well, the irony did not escape him. Here I just published a book about the horror of those countries during WWII and my son is applying for Hungarian passport in order to be able to live and work in Germany. [Update: Miriam Katin devoted a book to this event in her 2013 graphic novel Letting It Go published by Drawn and Quarterly]

NV : What about your citizenship ? Do feel yourself as an American citizen, Israeli ? Citizen of the World ?

MK : Both American and Israeli. One never loses the Israeli citizenship. But I would never give up the American citizenship. This country was the most welcoming of all.

Extra Content

Illustration for the collective zine XeroXed #XX: Avant la Catastrophe (2011) published by Multi BD bookstore (Brussels, Belgium). Cover of the zine XeroXed #15: Miriam Katin (January 2009) published by Multi BD bookstore. Various sketches (most never published before) used as illustrations for the zine XeroXed #15.

“Here” by Richard McGuire, USA, 1989

Here by Richard McGuire (USA) in: RAW Volume 2 #1, USA, 1989.

It was the first time I had had my mind blown. Sitting on that couch, I felt time extend infinitely backwards and forwards, with a sense of all the biggest of small moments in between. And it wasn’t just my mind: “Here” blew apart the confines of graphic narrative and expanded its universe in one incendiary flash, introducing a new dimension to visual narrative that radically departed from the traditional up-down and left-right reading of comic strips. And the structure was organic, nodding not only to the medium’s past but also hinting at its future.” Chris Ware, The Guardian, December 17, 2014 (see below for link to the article).

Dear students, the 2014 extended version of Here is available @ Kinokuniya bookstores.

Copyright ©1989 Richard McGuire – Reproduced with permission

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A few pages from the 2014 version of Here (by Pantheon Books) and Chris Ware on Here by Richard McGuire – a game-changing graphic novel (for The Guardian).

An interesting adaptation of the original six pages of McGuire’s Here into a short film (“about a series of events in time that happen in one point of space: the corner of a room in a normal house”). Student-produced at the RIT Dept. of Film & Video in 1991, by Tim Masick and Bill Trainor for their senior thesis project.

And an interesting GIF of Richard McGuire’s complete original version of Here.

View post on imgur.com