Last night a capacity audience came to the Cartoon Art Museum to hear Craig Thompson talk about his just-released graphic novel Habibi. It's a fantasy tale, nearly 700 pages long, & its sources include the history of the Arab slave trade, One Thousand and One Nights, the water crisis, Arabic calligraphy, & the poets Rumi & Badr Shakir al-Sayyab. I feel chastised simply by its length. The trim Mr. Thompson thanked us for waiting 7 years since his last book, & he eagerly gave a half-hour talk with slides about the process of creating his new story. We saw pictures of his sketchbooks & the 200 page 1st draft drawn with a pen. His drawing is fluid & alarmingly free of corrections & reworked lines.
We learned that he began the final art even before he had an ending, assuming that a suitable one would present itself. Unfortunately this did not happen, & he tried at least 10 endings before settling on the most "honest" one. He talked about the importance of finishing things, & asserted that the purpose of a relationship is to bring out your insecurities. If you abandon a relationship after the 1st signs of struggle, you will never learn anything.
The audience was a young, arty crowd, & they were patient when the talk started 20 minutes late due to a missing cable for the projector. Afterward, Mr. Thompson did a signing, but the museum sold out of books even before the event started. Incredibly, Habibi was released in 7 editions in 7 different languages on the exact same day, so Mr. Thompson is at the start of a lengthy international book tour. He amusingly kept referring to his French publisher as "The Frenchies." He'll be at APE this weekend, & it might be worth getting a copy from him, as it looked like he drew something in each book when signing it.
§ Craig Thompson Presents Habibi
Cartoon Art Museum
Wednesday, September 28, 2011, 7:00-9:00pm