G A N Z E E R . T O D A Y

Tired of hiding all your explicit wall art when family and prudes drop in? Introducing HALAL PORNOGRAPHY, the third series in my reworked poster releases.

Abstract art and kink copulate in these sly works of concept pop, available as huge 12”x36” posters (roughly 61x91cm) only from Garage.Ganzeer.com

#Work #Art #Design

Having added this “murder wall” on a whim inside the lunar police captain's office (THE SOLAR GRID, Ch. 6), some function in the back of my head is now tinkering with the thought of a serial killer on the moon. This has no place in THE SOLAR GRID proper and there will be no mention of it, but if in the future I ever want to mess around with a detective procedural type thing, I may be enticed to set it on the moon in the world of THE SOLAR GRID. I wouldn't want the setting to be pointless dressing of a run-of-the-mill detective story though; it would have to be an integral part of the concept and tie in closely to notions of trade, migration, and imperialism (what with the Moon acting as a kind of port city in space within this particular world). One thing I hate about most detective stories is that they (knowingly or not) act vehicles of police propaganda, so I imagine I'd want to turn my story around and make it an indictment of policing instead.

Simple though, and not overly elaborate; a tight slim graphic novella. Then again, I've littered THE SOLAR GRID with so many little easter eggs that could all very easily warrant their own little graphic novella spanwlings.

This is perhaps where a regular magazine might come in.

There's a bit in the introduction to KALILA & DIMNA that does not mince words as to the work's approach, an approach that very much speaks to my own philosophy of Concept Pop: Wisdom enveloped within entertainment. The wise come unto it for the wisdom, and idiots come unto it for the fun.

And there's a bit in Thomas Mann's DEATH IN VENICE speaking to me in equal measure. The bit that describes Gustave Aschenbach's epic on the life of Frederick the Great (wherein both Gustave and his work are of course fictitious): “Outsiders might be pardoned for believing that his Maia world and the epic amplitude revealed by the life of Frederick were a manifestation of great power working under high pressure, that they came forth, as it were, all in one breath. It was more the triumph for his morale; for the truth was that they were heaped up to greatness in layer after layer, in long days of work, out of hundreds and hundreds of single inspirations; they owed their excellence, both of mass and detail, to one thing and one alone; that their creator could hold out for years under the strain of the same piece of work.”

It's been 5 years of THE SOLAR GRID to date. Hopefully not more than 1 more year to go. After which, I may need to indulge in a perverted masquerade or two.

Not in Venice necessarily.

#Journal #Work #Comix #TheSolarGrid

For the past couple of weeks now, I end my days without completely ticking off everything on my deck because my assessment of what I can handle has been a bit off. Today however is the first day in a while where I got all the things done and even added a couple more since I had the time. Squeezed in a short workout too, and whipped up a mean chicken fajita bowl for dinner. Life is good.

Pencils for THE SOLAR GRID Ch.6 are getting looser by the day (see above) as a result of having taken on multiple work-for-hire stuff this month. Which may not be a bad thing. It just leaves more room to actually draw stuff in the inking stage. Something I'm gonna need to account for when allotting time for it. Keeping inks till after I'm done with these other projects.

#Journal #Work #Comix #TheSolarGrid

Finally cracked open a copy of KALILA & DIMNA the wife scored for me on one of her many pre-COVID travels. Needed to get on a good reading kick before diving into this one, which MEN OF TOMORROW and MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY successfully supplied.

Before KALILA & DIMNA though, I'd initiated a read of THE PULPS by Tony Goodstone, deeming it a kind of unofficial prequel to both MEN OF TOMORROW and the MARVEL COMICS book; after all, America's two largest publishers of comicbooks did get their start as publishers of pulp magazines. After reading a couple of idiotically racist stories though, I had to put THE PULPS aside, with the resolve to read it intermittently rather in one continuous go. And thus my start on KALILA & DIMNA began.

KALILA & DIMNA is a collection of fables written sometime between 750-1250 AD. Actually, that's a lie. It precedes that, having been in the Persian cultural conscious for however long after having made its way there from India. The Arabic collection I now hold in my hands was adapted by Ibn Al Mokafaa', largely considered to be one of the most important Arabic authors in history despite his Persian origins—and as such, Arabic not being his mother tongue. The book comes with an extensive intro on Ibn Al Mokafaa', citing the importance of his contributions which can more or less be summarized in two points:

  • Introducing new uses and wordplay into the Arabic language inspired by his Farsi mother tongue.
  • Translating multiple books from Farsi into Arabic, including numerous books that were originally translated from other languages into Farsi, such as Indian and Greek; essentially introducing Arabic readers (and by proxy, speakers at large) to a wide array of knowledge from other cultures.

It also helps that Ibn Al Mokafaa' was by most accounts what you might call a, um, an infidel (possibly the reason behind his assassination); essentially injecting progressive thought into an otherwise conservative society. Then again, there was a lot of that happening at the time what with the Abbasid empire's rapid expansion and its embrace of a great many cultures in the process, one of the main reasons it is perversely (and ironically) pointed to as an “Islamic” golden age. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

This actually relates quite closely to a few things the MEN OF TOMORROW book got me thinking about, namely that you can probably relate any culture's “golden age” to an influx of immigrants or its exposure to and/or absorption of other cultures. Picture America without the contribution of its Jews, Mexicans, Greeks, Africans, Italians, Arabs, Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans... and what you're left with is awfully bland, isn't it?

#Journal #Reads

Huge congrats to Doctor Kelsey P. Norman's first book release, RELUCTANT RECEPTION from Cambridge University Press, for which I happily provided cover art and design.

Let's face it; academic books are notoriously fugly, even those put out by top university presses. A quick skim through any academic press's catalogue will aptly demonstrate such.

And if you zero in on any press's “middle eastern studies” department, you'll see that they are far from exempt of the clichés of American mass media; women in niqab abound, a close-up on an exotic Arab face, or perhaps crowds of angry or miserable looking brown people, or maybe... a photo of Islamic architecture, even if the subject matter has nothing whatsoever to do with architecture.

Honestly, clichés and stereotypes aside, it still wouldn't be so bad if the designs were actually good. Terrible typographic treatments and horrendous compositions are aplenty with academic books.

Not on my watch (Humblebrag without the humble 😎).

#Work #Design #Publication

Quick proof-of-life post to acknowledge my extended absence from blogging, and repent and make promises to return to daily posts even if I have to keep them super micro.

Hectic time, drawing pages for the 6th Chapter of THE SOLAR GRID as well as providing art for multiple music projects and activism campaigns alongside a number of podcast recordings. Not to mention administrative stuff and planning for future projects.

Let us not discuss the newborn.

On podcasts, here are links to my interview(s) with the CAIRO IN EXILE podcast, for which we recorded one in Arabic and one in English.

Aight, back to work.

#Journal #Press

Imagine zines —put together crude and fast by 19-28 year olds— given the kind of mass market distribution that only a giant like Condé Nast has access to. The more I read “Golden Age” comicbooks or read about them, the more evident it seems that that is exactly what they were, and it is exactly that that made them so successful.

Many “historians” simplify the birth of comicbooks by painting it as a natural evolution from comic-strips, neglecting the fact that the explosion of comicbooks differed from comic-strips not only in their length, or that they were entire publications dedicated to comics, but that they were incredibly crude, vulgar (even if intended for a younger audience), absurdly imaginative, and created for the most part by very young amateurs.

Chester Gould was 31 years old when he invented DICK TRACY for the newspaper strips. Hal Foster 45 when he started PRINCE VALIANT. Winsor McCay 36 when he launched LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND. In contrast: When SUPERMAN hit the stands in ACTION COMICS #1? Siegel and Shuster were both 24 (but claimed to have invented Superman 3-6 years earlier). When BATMAN first appeared in DETECTIVE COMICS #27, Bob Kane was also 24, and his uncredited collaborated Bill Finger was 23. And over the course of their careers, both teams employed hordes of young eager teens, who not only executed the comics but drove many of the ideas within as well.

The comicbook gold rush that followed resulted in hundreds of publications produced by young energetic dudes relishing in outrageous ideas; Bill Everette was 22 when he came up with THE SUBMARINER. Don Rico and Jack Cole were 28 and 26 respectively when they invented DAREDEVIL for Silver Streak Comics (not the same as Marvel Comics' later character of the same name).

Unlike the comicstrips in the papers, these publications had little to no editorial oversight, and the artists behind them had little to no experience making the stuff. The publishers didn't even have editors at the time. What they did have was a salesman, accountant, and printer; resources they utilized to publish softcore porn and get it to as many newsstands, candy shops, and cigar stores as humanly possible. To be fair, they also produced fiction in the form of pulp magazines, but these weren't the mission-driven ones of Hugo Gernsack's early AMAZING STORIES. They were sensationalist drivel, their attraction revolving around shock, horror, and sexual suggestion. When they finally did decide to take on editors for the comics, the job predominantly entailed hunting down material to include in an ever expanding comics magazine empire. They weren't involved in pairing talent as is the case today, nor were they involved in the stories (for a time anyway). It was left up to the cartoonists to put together their own production teams, known at the time as packaging studios (a fancy term for a bunch of friends huddled in a room making fast comix). In short, hardly anyone involved knew anything about comix, most especially the publishers. What they did have was printing knowhow and a vast distribution network which they employed in the service of this new weird comicbook thing.

My point though is that there is powerful value in the uninhibited crude untrained imaginative output of the young. It may not contain anything near the level of craft of the established 30 or 40-something professionals, but it comes with a degree of unbound inventiveness that makes it incredibly awesome. Another thing Golden Age comicbook makers all had in common; the vast majority of them were the sons of Jewish immigrants.

Give a bunch of young immigrants (or the children of immigrants) a platform with mass reach, and watch the culture take huge unprecedented leaps.

Had I half a billion bucks in the bank, that's exactly what I'd do; publish zines by immigrants and their offspring with absolutely no editorial oversight and flood the market with those bad boys and watch society transform.


I'm done with normies.

That may sound cruel and snobbish as fuck, but the thing about normies is that they are inherently dumb and likely bigoted. Because normies are the ones who keep their head down and more than happy to live a pre-molded existence. They'll get a 9-5 at a respectable corporation, marry young, have kids, raise a family, want them to get into good schools without ever once questioning the status quo or attempting to imagine the possibility of a different world.

I mean, getting married and wanting good things for your kid(s) is fiiiiine obviously, but that doesn't have to come at the expense of opening your eyes to the world around you and challenging it. Press a normie hard enough (or not so hard really), and you're bound to hear an offhand comment about the homeless, protestors, or a particular sex, sexual orientation, or ethnic group.

Had the misfortune of hanging out with normies in the park yesterday (because any social interaction is a welcomed interaction right now, right?)—based entirely on our shared reality as new parents—and what a mistake that was. Life is too short to spend it with anyone who lacks the capacity to fuel your soul and/or intellect.

I'm done with normies.

Problem is: normies be everywhere. I may find myself slowly drifting into full reclusive shaman mode by the age of 40.

Not my idea of an ideal existence, but I'll take it over superficial social gatherings with normies.


I've been getting quite a bit of praise about my OSU/Cartoon-Library talk, so I guess that went well! There were however a number of questions for the Q&A portion that went unanswered due to lack of time, but the folks at OSU sent me a log of questions asked, so I'ma attempt to address them here (although I'm not entirely sure this will be read by those who had the questions).

1) Which newspaper?

I'm assuming this is in reference to the paper that published the damning feature on the “Egyptian Protest Manual”. If I remember correctly, it was Akhbar El-Youm. Sometime between Jan 29-31 (2011), I don't fully recall.

2) Do you see your work as an extension or follow on from other Egyptian comic artists like Magdy El Shafee?

As much as I dig Magdy's work as well as that of the rest of my kinfolk, I don't think so. I think it's fair to say that THE SOLAR GRID is very different. I mean, it certainly draws from a ton of influences, but I think the end result is a soup that isn't easily identifiable by any singular flavor.

3) Lovely way to remember those folks. Does the color scheme mean anything?

I'm assuming this is in regards to the “Martyr Murals”. I think the yellow was meant to reference gold, but y'know... the pop equivalent if you will. My intention was to turn them into icons. This, in my mind, meant simple lines and bold, primary colors.

4) Could you talk about any influence Kickstarter had on being able to create and publish your book? Has it been picked up by a publisher? Any thoughts / views on Kickstarter in general around the freedom to create a book “your way” or anything of the like.

Well, it's been “picked up” by Radix Media which itself is running a Kickstarter to publish their editions. Of course, when people say “picked up by a publisher”, they usually mean a big name publisher that'll make the product widely available in the market, and that doesn't quite apply to Radix Media, which is comprised of four people who aren't just administrators but also print-makers who actively handle all aspects of printing and binding the books themselves. So, super intimate, super personal, very small scale, but I like that.

Of course, any author would like for their work to be made available as widely as possible, and that certainly includes myself, but far more important than wide availability to me is complete creative control and ownership, and most publishers don't quite allow that. Even if they're not the type to actively interfere, you as an author are likely to mold your work in a certain way so it fits their catalogue prior to even submitting it, and that is still a type of control, even if not outwardly overt.

I firmly believe that as a artist/author/creator I should be able to create what I want how and when I please, but the only way to make that a reality is to carve out a path for yourself that entails seizing as much of the means of production as possible. Hence: self publishing and/or co-publishing arrangements (with the right entities).

This becomes even more pronounced with more mainstreamish publishers flocking to crowdfunding platforms to fund their production, so the idea of “well if they're doing that, why don't I just do it myself?” is going to nag even harder, especially if you have enough expertise to pull it off. Granted, building enough of an audience is bound to be even more of an uphill battle, but it's a battle worth fighting.

Also, the creative concerns in regards to making comix and graphic novels don't solely entail the stories, artwork, and content, but also include things like production, formats, distribution and so on. So if you really want to make serious breakthroughs in the field (which is sorely needed if you ask me), becoming a publisher/creator is the only way. Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter certainly make it far easier than before.

5) Thank you for this wonderful talk, Ganzeer. I’m wondering if you draw any inspiration from past illustrators working for Egyptian periodicals like Ruz al-Yusuf and Akhir Saʿa? I would also love to hear your thoughts on mahraganat as a means of protest in present day Egypt. Alf shukr!

Ruz al-Yusuf and Akhir Sa'a, not so much. But I used to pick up a ton of old printed matter from Sur Al-Asbakeya back in the day; defunct, heavily illustrated publications that date back to Egypt's 20's and 30's, as well as translated collections of olden American and Japanese comix, and of course things like painted Egyptian film posters (something I'm dying to riff off actually). There were also plenty of English-language publications I picked up, be they American comicbooks, design and architecture mags, or novels.

As far as Mahraganat music goes, I find that it is only “protest” in regards to its sound and aesthetic which for sure goes against the mainstream. Its content, not so much. In fact, I find it to be hugely misogynist. But perhaps the overt sexual innuendos can be considered a kind of social protest, but I'm not so sure it goes against the grain enough. Inventive sound though, that's for sure. Like Punk Rock back in the day, only far more insane.

6) How long have you been in the States? Are you planning on becoming a citizen so you can directly participate in the future of the country? Also, how can we find the Ganzeer?

Six years and counting. And yes. Everything “the Ganzeer” can be found on Ganzeer.com ¯_(ツ)_/¯

7) This looks fantastic. Will it be B&W or partly in color or completely?

Assuming this is in reference to THE SOLAR GRID, only partly in color, namely the off-world scenes. The stuff that is set on Earth takes up the majority of the book though, so it's largely B&W. So, the choice of when to use color and when not to is a purely creative decision informed first and foremost by the narrative—as opposed to, y'know, “the market” or “industry standards” or any of that stuff.

8) When will the Solar Grid be published?

A monthly serialized edition is coming from Radix Media beginning April 2021, with each installment running in the 40-page range. Towards the end of 2021, I'll be self-publishing a collected hardback.

The only paperback version will be Radix Media's serialization.

9) To what extent do you pre plan each sequence in terms of the illustrations’ composition?

I plan a lot. I do miniature sketches of all my sequences in a small 9 x 14.5 cm (3.5 x 5.5 in) sketchbook (a process called “thumbnailing”). So I basically have a miniature version of my entire chapter before working on the actual-sized version (Which is drawn on 28 x 43 cm—or 11 x 17 in—bristol board). Some changes are made in the process, but it's still good to have that miniature version as a guide. As an example, here's the entire thumbnail sketches for Chapter 4.

10) Will you still be collaborating with Ramy Essam in the future?

Oh yeah. Ramy and I connect on so many levels that over the course of the few days we spent together in New York earlier in the year, we found ourselves coming up with ideas that entail publishing, theater, and more. 🤞

11) Which graphic novelists and comics artists are you reading? Are there particular artists or genres that inspired the way that you created The Solar Grid?

I'm interested in a wide variety of stuff, and it's always changing. These days I'm primarily reading LONE WOLF AND CUB (by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima), PINKO JOE (by Christopher Sperandio), and re-reading WATCHMEN (by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons). Every once in a while I'll find myself flipping through SHARAZ-DE (by Sergio Toppi), STRANGE DAYS (by Peter Milligan, Brendan McCarthy, and Brett Ewins), DYLAN DOG (by Sclavi and various) and a few books by Druillet, Caza, and Simonson.

Longstanding influences though would be Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Steve Ditko, Frank Miller, Eddie Campbell, Becky Cloonan, Darick Robertson, Bryan Lee O'Malley, and Daniel Clowes (I know, super varied). And also authors outside of comix, like Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula K. LeGuin, early Chuck Palahniuk and Naguib Mahfouz.

12) I noticed you've also done various bookcovers (like Watermelon Democracy). Are you only focused on political titles?

Not necessarily. It just so happens that those are the kind of gigs that are offered to me now. Happy to do book covers for any genre or subject matter, as long as I vibe with it.

13) Are you using “traditional” artistic methods, or is your art created completely digitally?

All traditional; pencil and ink on paper. Except for lettering (and colors when needed), that's done digitally.

14) Does that mean you'll sell original pages of art?

Yup. However, I'm not so keen on selling pages individually. I'll likely only be offering complete chapters in bulk.

15) Did you leave relatives behind? And are they ok?

Unfortunately yes I did, but fortunately yes they're ok. Largely because they're apolitical. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

#Journal #Talk #QnA

Finally done thumbnailing Chapter 6, clocking in at 34 pages (not including backmatter to be provided by Elliott Colla) despite my initial estimate of it coming in at 18!

That's okay though; you discover things in the thumbnail process that aren't absolutely evident when you're just writing/plotting the thing. Sequences that you feel ought to be handled as such:

That's from Koike and Kojima's LONE WOLF AND CUB.

You can certainly show someone leaving a scene in one single panel, but that difference in pacing results in a different emotional impact. And you need to oscillate between various approaches to pacing as per the needs of each scene. I've certainly applied the fast-cut-exit approach a couple times already.

To the left is a flashback sequence from Chapter 4, and to the right is a scene from Chapter 5 set in Japan (hence, that sort-of manga vibe).

Earlier in Chapter 3, I had a scene that required a much slower exit, just to give a sense of the scope of the place being exited from.

As it turns out, Chapter 6 needed a few slow moments. But then again, I'm not awfully religious about sticking to my thumbs, and will often change things up when I work on the actual pages (as is evident when comparing thumbs for Chapter 4 with what actually became of the chapter).

Radix Media's kickstarter (which includes a serialized edition of THE SOLAR GRID) is now 90% funded. A couple thousand (and a few hours) to go and their entire Graphic Narrative series will be greenlit!

#Journal #Work #Comix #TheSolarGrid

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.