Transitioning to a new life is always difficult for anyone who has been accustomed certain comforts. I remember one of the more trivial things I had to get used to once I got out the military was figuring out what to wear to work every day. The transition for most can be difficult. Civilian life is not like what we left. And what we are coming back to is something different. This not only true for the military but also those leaving prison.
In the new television show The Last OG, Tracy Morgan portrays an ex-convict who finds himself at odds with changing his course and not falling back into his old life. This is a tamer version of what happens as the transition is tougher than most would ever hope to acknowledge. What transitioning for both the military and the prisoners do have in common is the pursuit of normality. In the brilliant drama The Divine, we meet two such veterans who must work as contractors in a country torn by civil war.
Mark and Jason are two old military friends who find it difficult to translate their skills into civilian life. Mark is newlywed with a baby on the way. His job prospects are not what he hoped for. Jason offers him a prospect of working for the same government contractor who has a job in a country called Quanlum, one where there are armed hostiles throughout. Before long Mark is back in the mix in a foreign country. Jason left out a few important details that make Mark regret his decision. Everything is not as it seems in. By book’s end, Mark has been changed once again by his exploits. It gives him a whole new understanding of the fragility of life.
Overall, an action packed and emotional rollercoaster that leaves readers almost breathless but ultimately grateful. The story by Boaz Lavie is suspense filled, well developed, and fervently mooring. The art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka is stunning, expressive, and tethers to the story well. Altogether, a story that is very much of its time. It leaves readers to ruminate on what is most important
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Publisher: Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios
Writer: Etgar Keret
Artist: Asaf Hanuka
Cover Artist: Asaf Hanuka
Presented for the first time in full color, award-winning writer Etgar Keret (The Seven Good Years) and Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Asaf Hanuka’s (The Realist) powerful graphic novel, Pizzeria Kamikaze, is a most unexpected story of love, loss, and escape.
Mordy wanted to get away. Now condemned to an afterlife exclusively for all victims of suicide, he still has to attend a crappy job in a place no less crappy than the place he came from.
When he discovers that his beloved ex-girlfriend is there too, he embarks on much needed road trip through an absurdist and fantastical landscape to find her.
BOOM! Studios has announced the addition of Pizzeria Kamikaze, the haunting, sometimes surreal graphic novel by award-winning writer Etgar Keret and Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Asaf Hanuka, to its Archaia imprint. The new edition will debut in February 2018 and will be presented in full color and in prestigious hardcover for the first time. This unexpectedly powerful story of love, loss, and escape was first published in black and white by Alternative Comics in 2006 and is based on Keret’s own short story, Kneller’s Happy Campers, which also served as the basis for the independent film, Goran Dukić’s Wristcutters: A Love Story.
In Pizzeria Kamikaze, after committing suicide, narrator Mordy is condemned to an afterlife where he still has to attend a crappy job in a place no less crappy than the place he came from. When he discovers that his beloved ex-girlfriend is there, too, he embarks on a much-needed road trip through an absurdist and fantastical landscape to find her.
Pizzeria Kamikaze features a new cover by Hanuka, who also has had two volumes of The Realist—curated collections of his semi-autobiographical comic strips—published by BOOM! Studios. The first volume won an Eisner Award in 2016.
Print copies of Pizzeria Kamikaze will be available for sale in February 2018.
The Realist: Plug and Play continues the journey of Eisner-Award winning, husband, father, and ordinary Israeli citizen Asaf Hanuka as he plumbs the depths of human existence with humor and melancholy, imagination, and quiet desperation. This new volume of the series brings the mix of pathos and politics that makes Hanuka a modern master of cartooning.
A fascinating read for so many reasons with art that’ll leave you lingering on the page, both volumes of The Realist are must gets for fans of cartooning and comics.
I got a chance to talk to Hanuka about the series, going from webcomic to print, and the presenting a non-Western perspective in comics.
Graphic Policy: So, let’s go back to the beginning. The Realist began as a webcomic. Where did the idea for it come from and how’d you decide on it being a webcomic?
Asaf Hanuka:The Realist started because I needed a job. I was asked by an editor of a weekly newspaper, Calcalist, to do a comic strip in the last page of the paper. I always liked autobiographical comics because it creates instant intimacy with the reader, so I decided to try it out. Comics is really just doodles on paper, and if it is done well, the personality of the author is felt in every line of every character and object presented. It’s easy to draw what you know best but sometimes it can get confusing to constantly look at your life from the outside.
After a few months, I started posting the pages online in a blog and then on Facebook. I think that anyone who creates art is hoping to reach the largest audience possible. The internet allowed The Realist to reach readers outside of Israel and that was the major motivation for me in posting it online.
GP: When creating it as a webcomic, did you ever think it’d be in print? If so, did that impact what you created at all?
AH: I never imagined the strip would be followed by so many people and that in seven years, it will be collected into a series of books, translated into 11 languages, and win an Eisner Award [in 2016]. The stories are very personal and a big part of it deals with local life in Israel. I’m still amazed when someone from Korea sends me a message saying he felt his own life reflected in the stories.
I can’t deny that posting my comics on social media doesn’t change the way I work. The “like” system is very addictive. It pushes for a simplified message, which in my case isn’t what I do best. I don’t have classic “punch lines.” There was a point in time where it started getting to me—I wondered why a specific work was popular while another work wasn’t—but eventually I realized it’s not something that contributes to my creative process. That was part of my decision to lower my posting rate dramatically.
GP: There’s lots about your everyday life and it involves your family. Do you ever worry about how they might react to what you’ve created?
AH: Of course. My family is more important than my comics. I will never put anything in one of my comics that might offend anyone. I typically ask my wife to approve her dialogue. The work is collaborative in the sense that we as a family usually discuss ideas during dinner and everyone participates in the brainstorming.
GP: Being Israeli and of an interesting background, how important to you as a creator to get your experiences out there?
AH: Israel is usually discussed in international media in the context of war/conflict zone/terrorism. I feel my contribution is to show that there is normality behind the headlines. People are just trying to live an average life and raise kids, but some are struggling to make a living. It’s exhausting to pretend your life is normal when there is only an illusion of safety. This disaster waiting to happen is an endless supplier of creativity. To simplify, if it all ends tomorrow, I should try my best today.
GP: I noticed when you do touch upon Israeli politics and what it’s like to live there, you don’t take much of a stance, it’s just your experience. Is that on purpose?
AH: I’m not interested in political messages because I don’t have any. In the political discussion in Israel, people are either on the left or on the right, they are against the occupation or they are for the settlers, and there is no real discussion since each side is sure of their opinion. If my work is just a front window for a political agenda, it will instantly get tagged as propaganda. I try to create work that is relatable even for people who don’t agree with me. I try to tell a small personal story that offers a reflection on the larger problems. It’s a way of saying something under the radar, because people usually just want to read a joke. They want to get to the punch line, and they can’t stop looking until they reach the bottom of the page. Under that little visual slide, I will suggest a bigger story or a metaphor that will be visible in a second reading.
GP: As an Israeli creator do you feel any pressure on presenting something from a non-Western viewpoint?
AH: My mother emigrated from Iraq to Israel in the ’50s as part of a large movement of Iraqi Jews who came to Israel at the time. My grandmother never spoke Hebrew, so in the house, I would often hear them speaking Arabic. The culture, the food, and the music was Arabic. At the same time, my brother Tomer [illustrator Tomer Hanuka] and I loved superheroes and obsessed over American comic books. The dominant culture in Israel was Ashkenazi, meaning it was dominated by the Jews who came from a European background. I felt alienated in that culture because it dismissed my Arabic roots. Reading Spider-Man and hearing mom speaking Arabic in the background sums up my childhood and explains my fascination with superheroes: They have a secret identity, making them different than everyone else. That’s how I felt.
I think The Realist allows me to create this mix between Western idols and Middle-Eastern reality.
GP: You’ve done longer narrative and then these shorter comics, do you approach them differently? Is there one you enjoy more so than others?
AH: The one-pagers are weekly. I’ve done and continue to do a page every week for the last seven years. It’s a moment amplified by narrative flow or illustrative approach. I basically choose a doodle from my sketchbook and throw it on the page, hoping something good will happen. The longer stories are more like films I will never make. I have an idea for a few scenes, maybe a bit of dialogue and I try to put that in order. I feel at this point in my professional life that I’m ready to produce longer narratives and hopefully I will be able to.
GP: Have you gone back at all to some of your earlier webcomics and come off as surprised as what you created?
AH: Yes! I’m always surprised at how my drawing style changes without me noticing. It evolved and got simpler yet more controlled over time. There is a lot of theory about the “how to” in comics but the truth is that you just have to do it every day and then you “get it.”
Sometimes I read an old strip and I’m embarrassed, like watching myself naked. It’s a form of mental and emotional strip-tease. It can only work if there is a huge amount of honesty. I try not to fake it, even when the deadline is near.
GP: I notice there’s a theme throughout a lot of the comics that mix flesh and technology. Where’d that focus come from?
AH: From me and my old age: I’m 43. We got our first color TV when I was in high school. I used Photoshop for the first time when I was 24. I remember how it was before smartphones, and maybe that’s why I’m so aware of how technology has invaded our personal space and made us addicted to a never-ending flow of photos and information. In my work, I just push it a little bit forward into surrealism but I’m really aiming at realism.
GP: What else do you have on tap for the year that you can tell us about?
AH: I’m working on a graphic novel with Italian writer Roberto Saviano (writer of Gomorrah, which was made into a film and was recently a Netflix series). It’s called Still Alive and it’s a reflection on the paradoxes of the life of a writer living under constant police protection. It will be released by Bao Publishing in Italy. It’s one of the most interesting and ambitious projects I’ve ever worked on. I hope it will be published in the beginning of 2018.
GP: Sounds really interesting. Can’t wait to read that! Thanks so much for chatting.
Publisher: Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios
Writer: Asaf Hanuka
Artist: Asaf Hanuka
Cover Artist: Asaf Hanuka
The Realist: Plug and Play continues the journey of Eisner-Award winning, husband, father, and ordinary Israeli citizen Asaf Hanuka (The Divine) as he plumbs the depths of human existence with humor and melancholy, imagination, and quiet desperation. This new volume of the series brings the mix of pathos and politics that makes Hanuka a modern master of cartooning.
The manga megahit Attack on Titan, reinterpreted by some of comics’ top talent! Featuring original stories by a long roster of comic superstars such as Scott Snyder, Gail Simone, Faith Erin Hicks, Michael Avon Oeming, Paolo Rivera, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr!
This unprecedented, full-colour collaboration between East and West will be released first in English, making it indispensable for Attack on Titan fans and curious comic fans.
When it comes to Attack on Titan my only real exposure to the series was watching the horrendous live action film that came out. I haven’t watched the anime and I haven’t read the manga, but when I heard the Attack on Titan Anthology was coming out, I made sure to grab a copy during New York Comic Con. If I was going to buy it, might as well go with the limited edition cover.
While this anthology isn’t a traditional way to be introduced, it was an interesting one as a who’s who of Western creators tackle this manga phenomenon. And what’s nicer is that each creator gave it their own spin sticking to their style of storytelling and moving the settings of the stories around for different situations and locations.
This is an eclectic mix in a good way with stories that seem to stick to a setting and story that you’d see in the manga series while other creators went with a complete break. There’s horror. There’s humor. There’s action. There’s a little of everything and it’s all enjoyable in its own way.
What’s really interesting to me is recognizing the creators based on their entries. I read the entire graphic novel in one sitting and played guess the creator as I went along creating a fun little game and each creator really does bring their own style. So, if you’re a fan of the folks’ work, you’re probably going to enjoy this.
I knew so little about the world and what to expect going in other than the creative talent lined up, but coming out of it, I want to check out more. If you’re interested in finding out a bit about Attack on Titan, but don’t want to take the chance on manga, this is a solid way to go to find out a bit more about what it’s all about.
Story and Art: Ray Fawkes, Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, John Rauch, Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Bill Murdon, Afua Richardson, Genevieve Valentine, David Lopez, Faith Erin Hicks, Cris Peter, Michael Avon Oeming, Taki Soma, Paolo Rivera, Gail Simone, Phil Jimenez, Alonso Nunez, Elmer Santos, Sam Humphries, Damion Scott, Sigmund Torre, Rhianna Pratchett, Jorge Corona, Jen Hickman, Ben Applegate, Ronald Wimberly, Kevin Wada, Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, Jiji Knight, Si Spurrier, Kate Brown, Paul Duffield, Dee Cunniffe, Asaf Hanuka, Tomer Hanuka, Kate Leth, Jeremy Lambert Story: 8.35 Art: 8.35 Overall: 8.35 Recommendation: Buy
Acclaimed Israeli cartoonist Asaf Hanuka’s weekly strips unfold an emotional autobiography full of humor and melancholy, wild imagination, and quiet desperation. Collected for the first time in English and including never-before-collected strips, The Realist delivers both honesty and whimsy from a master of his craft. With echoes of R. Crumb and Daniel Clowes, Hanuka moves readers with his depictions of everyday life, commenting on everything from marriage to technology to social activism through intimate moments of triumph and failure.
Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios, has announced the April debut of acclaimed Israeli illustrator Asaf Hanuka’s autobiographical original graphic novel The Realist. Collecting Hanuka’s weekly strips in English for the first time, The Realist is an emotional, deeply personal commentary on his life and raising a family in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Asaf Hanuka’s autobiographical webcomic, The Realist, began winning awards shortly after its launch, including a Gold Medal from The Society of Illustrators. Collected for the first time in English and including never-before-collected strips, The Realist delivers both honesty and whimsy from a master of his craft. With echoes of R. Crumb and Daniel Clowes, Hanuka moves readers with his depictions of everyday life, commenting on everything from marriage to technology to social activism through intimate moments of triumph and failure.
Featuring a trim size of 6.875 x 10.1875 and containing 192 pages, The Realist original hardcover graphic novel arrives in comic shops from Archaia on April 22nd with a cover by creator Asaf Hanuka for the price of $24.99 under Diamond order code FEB151166.