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Mighty Dollar

Today on the site:

Marc Sobel contributes a lengthy interview with Rutu Modan, author most recently of The Property.

SOBEL: Was it difficult to write a character that’s so much older than you?

MODAN: It was hell! <laughs> It was so difficult. Mostly because I didn’t know if I would be able to describe Regina the way I wanted her to be: a full, real person. I was used to looking at my grandmother only through her role in my life.

The writing was much, much harder than Exit Wounds, not only because the characters were more complex but also because the story takes place in Poland. Exit Wounds took place in Israel, and that is, needless to say, a background I am very familiar with. Poland, on the other hand, was a place that even compared to other countries, I didn’t know anything about. I didn’t even have a picture in my head about how it looks. This makes inventing the story quite difficult. And the Holocaust is a very complicated subject, too, to deal with in art. So much has been written about it already, and it is a subject that can easily lead you to melodrama.

SOBEL: Can you talk a bit about the research that went into the book?

MODAN: The first thing I did was open Wikipedia and read the history of Poland. I wanted to know more about the country, not just its Jewish history. I also read books and talked with people. I was living in England at the time when I started the research and my yoga teacher’s wife was from Poland, so I asked if I could interview her. She is in her 30s and she came from a small village near the Ukrainian border. I asked her to tell me about her life in Poland. She knew I was from Israel but she didn’t know anything about the book; I barely knew anything either at that point. I just told her that it was going to take place in Poland, but I didn’t tell her anything about the story or the theme. Literally five minutes after we started talking, she told me that her parents are living in the house that belonged to a Jewish family before the war and that they are really frightened that the Jews are going to come and take their home. I swear to you, I didn’t tell her anything. So that was when I knew that I had a good subject in my hand. <laughs> Because if there is a conflict, than there is drama, which means it can be a story.

Also I realized that, in a way, it’s similar to what happened in Israel between the Israelis and Palestinians. The history is different and it’s different circumstances, but the fact that the Jews were thrown out of their houses and then came to Israel and threw the Palestinians out of their houses… It’s the tragic repetition of history. Many Israelis don’t see the connection. They can fight for their house in Poland, but to think that they should give something to the Palestinians… they don’t make the connection.

Elsewhere:

Here’s a piece by the reliably good Tim Marchman about the non-effect comic book movies have on comic book sales.

10 years of portraits for The Believer by Charles Burns will be on view at Adam Baumgold Gallery beginning Thursday evening.

Canadian cartoonists suggest some Canadian graphic novels right over here.

Paul Karasik has a comic online (and in print) about a Martha’s Vineyard dock builder.

A reminder: Eisner Award voting is open now until June 12.

I enjoy the work done at the art center Creative Growth. Here’s a video about a comics-related artist.


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