Guy Delisle: Tales from the Holy Land
After chronicling his time in China, North Korea and Burma, cartoonist Guy Delisle is now taking on the Holy Land.
During a year spent living in Jerusalem, Delisle - whose wife is an administrator at Doctors Without Borders - took care of his children, explored, sketched and experienced the diverse cultures there.
The result was the brick-like graphic memoir "Jerusalem," which won Best Album this year at the Angouleme International Comics Festival. It features countless short stories that build a compelling narrative of his experience in Israel, from serious political and religious machinations to charming moments with the author and his family.
amNewYork spoke with 46-year-old Canadian artist, who currently lives in France.
How do you and your wife decide on your next destination? Now, I go where my wife goes. I used to travel in animation. To wherever they would outsource [me] - at the time it was China, North Korea and Vietnam. Then I decided I was just going to do comics and I wasn't going to travel anymore. My wife decided to [work for DWB] and I just follow... she doesn't really decide. They propose a few places... and choose one place.
Do you know right off the bat that you're going to be doing a book when you go to these exotic locales? I don't know before. I've been in a few places where I was thinking I might do a book, and then I came back, read my notes and there wasn't much to say.
What did you learn about yourself from living a year in Jerusalem? I'm not a very religious person and being in Jerusalem, seeing what religious people do there, didn't make me a more religious [person], that's for sure.
After living in China, North Korea, Burma and Israel, do you ever long to just travel to an easy, safe place? No, they're quite easy places, even though they sound sometimes complicated or dangerous. [DWB] only sends people places where there's no danger. The funny thing is, we were supposed to go to Guatemala - Guatemala sounds like a very safe place - but the head of mission said, "I don't want to have a family there because it's too dangerous." So, they said, "We're going to send you to Burma," and for me, Burma was clearly dangerous. But no, it was not. It's very quiet.
Your fellow cartoonist Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel "Persepolis" was turned into an animated film. Is that something you'd like to see with one of your books? I come from an animation background, so I see the work that it would demand - and it's really tedious and [you] would have to stop for three years, like Marjane did for "Persepolis." I don't see movies as something exceptional that I should spend three years doing that. I'd much prefer to stay home, at my table, and in three years, I could do two books ... I can take a pencil tomorrow and I can start whatever I want.
If you go: Guy Delisle will be at Housing Works Bookstore Café tonight at 7, 126 Crosby St., 212-334-3324, FREE.