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Issue 68 - May 2010

Thursday 27 May 2010 by Ina Doublekova

New books published

(JPG) Tossen Ramar, My Granny and the Wild Swans (Moyata baba i divite lebedi), Next Page and Stigmati Publishers, Sofia 2010, in Romani and in Bulgarian language, supported by Our Stories project of Next Page

My Granny and the Wild Swans is beautifully written and vibrantly illustrated by the Romani author Tossen Ramar. It tells the story of a little Roma boy, who, encouraged by his grandmother, discovers the fascinating world of books in the city library. The tale sounds like a contemporary parable about how one can become the subject of his own integration without falling into the trap of stereotypes.

The book is written and published in the framework of Our Stories project that encourages new contemporary writing for Roma children.

Storyborders (Razliki v kartinki), Next Page and Roborid Publishers, Sofia 2010, supported by comiXculture I project of Next Page

(JPG) Yes, it is finally out! The first Bulgarian collection of comic stories for grownups entitled Storyborders and published as a result of several artistic workshops in 2009/2010. It all started with an attempt to see how the abstract topic of differences can be put into stories in which words and pictures coexist peacefully. It took more than a year of work by six Bulgarian illustrators and a 8-years Romani boy, two demanding editors, one fantastic graphic designer and plenty of synchronization energy to get to this wonderful edition. The book is a charming combination of graphic styles and a variety of approaches to the topic, including several eccentric ones which undoubtedly will be of use for anybody who prefers to think before acting.

(JPG) Storyborders promotion event on the 29th April in Sofia gathered a large crowd of young visual artists, open-minded readers and a lot of media attention. Pencils and paper were on disposal so the event gradually turned into a collective drawing for professional artists and amateurs alike. A rebirth of the Bulgarian comics scene?!

For more information on the collection and to receive a copy, please contact Ina Doublekova at comix@npage.org

Moving On with comiXculture II: the Sofia workshop!

What can seven comics artists from places as distant as Beirut and Prague possibly do in the city of Sofia (aside from having a good time)?! They can discuss professional challenges, interact with the local art scene and explore the multiple faces of the city. But above all, they can get inspiration for a series of comics works exploring differences, otherness and diversity in the globalizing world of today. And this is what comixculture II project is all about.(JPG)

This initiative of Next Page was launched quite inspiringly last year with a workshop for comics artists from Eastern Europe in Beirut, Lebanon. To keep the balance, it was only natural that at the end of April, the second workshop took place in Sofia, Bulgaria. This time participants were four artists from Lebanon: Lena Merhej and Omar Khouri, (who together publish the comics magazine Samandal), Ghadi Ghosn and David Habchy. The workshop also hosted Masa Borkovka and Vojtech Masek from the Czech NGO Asta sme, currently preparing a graphic novel with real-life stories of Czech Roma. Last but not least, there was Aleksandar Zograf from Serbia, acting also as a mentor of the project.

(JPG) Sofia workshop program had it all: public presentations, group discussions, meetings with Sofia artists, drawing and experiencing the city out off the beaten track. The group was facilitated in exploring the pulses of the city’s various neighborhoods, including one of the poorest Roma settlements where language barriers were easily overcome by sharing music and illustrated books with its youngest inhabitants.

Further, there was also a special exhibition of the seven artists of comixculture II and an exciting evening of presentations of their work at a newly open gallery for urban art. That was a unique chance for the young Bulgarian audience to listen to established and upcoming comics artists from so many diverse backgrounds. One of the audiences’ comments posted online the day after says it all: “Had a blast! Thank you all”.

First results are already here – we have few comics works motivated by the Sofia experience. These, together with the stories drawn after the Beirut workshop will get published in a single volume in English language. Further, the artists will use the inspiration gained to continue their work on comics on diversity, which will be translated into Bulgarian, Serbian, Czech, Romanian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Arabic, and presented to the wider audiences in popular magazines.

More news on comiXculture II will be coming very soon! For more information, please contact Ina Doublekova at comix@npage.org.