Guy Delisle will be at Harvard Book Store tonight at 7pm for a free signing and discussion of his travel journal from Jerusalem entitled, Jerusalem: Chronicles From the Holy City.
Canadian born cartoonist and animator Guy Delisle lived in the Holy City of Jerusalem for a year with his wife and two young children. His wife worked for Doctors Without Borders as an administrator as Guy settled in to raise his children, find a studio, sketch constantly and teach cartooning when called upon.
Drawn and Quarterly debuts his hardcover graphic novel this month, and Guy joins us in the States from his permanent home in the South of France to promote his book with a slide show and discussion about his experiences in one of the oldest cities in the world.
I was immediately intimidated by this assignment. How can I do the work justice when I know absolutely nothing about the politics of the Holy Land? My base understanding is that the place is to be revered as the birthplace of civilization and of Western religion. I’m uneducated on even current events or recent conflicts in the region. I expected to come out of this review feeling dumb.
Thankfully, Guy’s book was a travel journal of his life there as someone with knowledge on par with mine. Delisle’s cartooning and illustrations of the intensely complex subsections of the city throughout the book transformed my vague conceptions of the West Bank into realized maps.
There is the culture built upon conflict. Conflict begets villages, towns and separation. Checkpoints and automatic weapons meld seamlessly with the scenes of vendors selling fruit in the market.
At least six major religions have a righteous stronghold and ancient holy buildings in the Old City.
I have the utmost respect for the work that Doctors Without Borders does and learned for the first time how difficult it must be to travel in the region on such a mission. All vehicles are subject to search. Bombings, shootings and violence are daily occurrences.
I imagined myself in Guy’s shoes adjusting and exploring all the old world had to offer.
The book illustrates the logistics of living in the city as a foreigner and seeing the place for the first time. He was responsible for getting his kids to school and finding places for play. There is so much honest exploration and learning exposed in this book.
Guy is a curious explorer, hopping into the Arab minibuses with a backpack to check out the city, draw and ask questions.
Chapters are broken up by months, and high holiday celebrations of the major religions are highlighted with an observant eye. There is a humorous reveal about the author’s spiritual beliefs that I identified with about halfway through the book. To be a non-believer in the Holy Land you are on the surface neutral, and at the same time without allies in conflict. Guy shows that it is best to keep your atheist or agnostic beliefs to yourself and blend in wherever possible.
My original expectations were surpassed by a desire to travel more and carry a sketch book with me more often. The humorous human element of tense political and religious contexts in real situations brought me genuine happiness and joy. The illustrative maps and symbols in the work gave me a better understanding of the Middle Eastern region than all of my education and news input combined.
Guy Delisle has given us the history of the world told through the eyes of an outsider. He tells the story of how an artist and his family can integrate into a cultural mix thousands of years in the making.
GUY DELISLE PRESENTS
CHRONICLES FROM THE HOLY CITY
HARVARD BOOK STORE
1256 MASS AVE.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE! LEAGUE PODCAST IS BOSTON’S COMIC BOOK PODCAST. CHECK OUT THE GENTLEMEN HERE. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CAME TO THE BOSTON COMIC CON AFTER PARTY AT MCGREEVYS, CHECK OUT THE COSPLAY AND FRIENDSHIP!
LEAGUE PODCAST PRESENTS: ODDIO-COMIC #14 — ACTION COMICS #47 “POWERSTONE”
Voices: Clay N.Ferno, John Hunt, Ray O’Hare & Matt Dursin as Lois Lane