Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Reaper

The pages above are the first three from a new comic featured in the latest issue of FIMP Magazine. This comic is a bit of a departure for me as it's my first attempt at making one in Arabic and also the first I draw with a brush. The choice of language was the more difficult of the two transitions so I needed some help with it. For that, a big thanks goes out to Hiba Krisht for translating the script I originally wrote out in English (my Arabic is shamefully underdeveloped for someone living in Lebanon). Equally big thanks go out to Joanna Douba for lettering the Arabic text and helping to flesh out the original idea, and Krystel Kouyoumdjis for the gigantic service of stopping me from making the mistake of essentially rewriting an earlier comic (read: nagging).

The guys at FIMP get credit for letting me try a somewhat unconventional approach given this issue's theme: Superheroes. I was tasked with creating a short comic featuring a superhero that would be relevant to Lebanon so the approach was to try and create something that didn't ape the existing template but rather deal with violence in a very specific way to the country. I'd rather not go into a more detailed explanation here as the magazine features something of a manifesto to accompany the comic. Suffice it to say, the thought process led to the skeletal woman in the above pages.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Monkey-Wrench Malcolm

This guy started out as a conversation between two of my friends. I walked in on them repeating the phrase "Rubadubdub Mutha@#!?ah." As they progressed to imagining the guy who would use this phrase on a constant basis, they ended up thinking of a very large plumber who uses it as an introduction to his clients. I was hoodwinked into promising I would draw him with a payment of almonds (I was very hungry) so upon further discussion, I ended up suggesting he should also be a crime-fighter who uses his wrench to wreak havoc upon those who stand in the way of justice and we settled on the name Monkey-Wrench Malcolm.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Spike & Lilac

This is a short comic featured in Kalimat Magazine, Issue 7 now available on newsstands worldwide and at kalimatmagazine.com/shop.

For a list of shops that carry Kalimat, click here.

Eventually, I'd like for this comic to be part of a much longer narrative but like a lot of ideas that seem worth pursuing, putting the necessary time into writing it comes across as a daunting challenge that keeps getting pushed off. For now, I'm happy to have the following two pages:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

In space, no one can hear you cluck.

This is what happens when you give a doodle card to someone with an Alien-fascination at a chicken themed restaurant... I'm relatively proud of this one as I've never inked anything as loosely before.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


This illustration was a contribution to the fifth issue of La Furie des Glandeurs. I won't get into a lengthy description but I will say the issue's themes were travel and migration.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Death Proof

This faux poster for Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof was a contribution to the latest issue of F/I/M²/P. The original posters (like the film itself) also replicated the feel of a 70s exploitation movie but what they did was replicate the style without overemphasizing one of the film's selling points: Kurt Russell playing a badass again. In attempting to try a different approach, I ended up doing just that.

The title lettering also functioned as a bit of a personal throwback. While sketching this out, I remembered once going through an Alex Ross sketchbook and looking at how accurately he would redraw the title on every sketch he'd do for a comic book cover. I figured it'd be a shame to let my graphic design education go to waste...  Drawing the title ended up being the most enjoyable part of working on this poster.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Vampire Chipmunk in a Hat and a Mutant Cucumber

These two were started a while back while I was waiting for a very long document to be typed up. The first one was finished during the wait but the second was completed while I was up in an area named Khiara (for non-Arabic-speaking readers, it translates to Cucumber). That second guy was initially supposed to be some kind of fish zombie but it was up there that everyone pointed out he looks like a cucumber... Take a long look at him and enjoy eating your salad from now on folks.

Each of these was drawn on a post-it with different colored bic pens. The first color that was applied was the green. It's not as strong as the black or red pens so it's ideal to start drawing with. The black's good for finishing up the darkest areas and then the red's good for embellishing it... or adding blood.

Enjoy that salad.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

5th International Festival of Comics - Beirut 2012

This post should have been up sooner but here's the invite/poster for the 5th International Festival of Comics - Beirut 2012 (open it in a new tab to see it at a large size).

The opening is Saturday the 20th of October at 4:30 PM at UNESCO Palace, Beirut.

The program on the opening day includes:

An exhibition of Lebanese professional artists, international guest artists and the work produced in the Lets Comics workshops held in Lebanon this past year.

An awards ceremony declaring the winners of the Lets Comics competition 2012 (there's a change in the rules of the competition in that two winners were awarded a trip to the Lucca Comics and Games Festival 2012.

And my favorite activity: the Comics-Music Jam. We've essentially got the latest edition of the Kharbesh Bilsenak event organized by Karma Hamady but with some added tweaks this year. We got 12 illustrators (these include the international guests) jamming with two freestyle rappers (with superhuman abilities): Double A the Preacherman and Mazen El Sayed. We also got Rami Obeid (Stikfiggr) providing the beats. It's tough to do this thing justice with a description so I'll simply implore everyone to come check it out opening day.

The festival goes on till Monday the 22nd on October at 8 PM. The program on the last day includes a public jam open to all.

“Let’s Comics - A Euromed Window for Young Comics Artists” is a project co-funded by the European Union, run by COSV (Coordination of the Organizations for Voluntary Service, Italy) and SPGIL (Syndicate of Professional Graphic Designers and Illustrators in Lebanon). It is a long-running program initiated in Beirut in 2007 under the slogan of “Let’s Comics!” 

UPDATE 0ctober 19 at 10:49 PM from Beirut: Due to current events, several activities have been cancelled from the festival out of respect for the national day of mourning. The space will remain open for anyone who wishes to come see the exhibit at the previously announced times (Saturday Oct at 20th 4:30 PM till Monday 22nd at 8 PM). A space will also be open for artists to come in and jam.

UPDATE October 20: The festival has been postponed.

FINAL UPDATE October 22: The festival has been closed down.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Evil Platypus of Death

This guy marked a return to drawing evil little animals after a somewhat extensive hiatus. I was sitting with a friend who was about to travel (for good) the next day and she informed me how everyone was compiling their drawings for her to take. Feeling relatively useless, I decided to draw something. Somehow, an evil platypus of death seemed like the obvious choice for a parting gift.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Symphony of Horror in Beirut

This illustration's for the group Masha3, and is to be distributed as a t-shirt and poster at an event to be held at the St. Georges Bay, Downtown Beirut on the 28th of September, 8pm (it's free, public and open to everyone).

The action currently being undertaken is to stop the transfer of 40% of the water front from public property to the property of Solidere (291,800 m2 from Biel to Ajram Beach).

Note: if you're attending, the idea with the shirts is that you bring your own and it gets silkscreened there.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Runaways

This was my first contribution to F/I/M²/P magazine. Although I was very happy with it when I drew it, it's somehow escaped publication on this blog up until now. It was an illustration for a review of Floria Sigismondi's film, The Runaways. I'll admit I haven't watched it but having to research it got me excited about the prospect of doing so.

The best part about drawing this was the reaction I got from the guys at F/I/M²/P when I sent in the pencil sketch. I originally intended to ink it but upon consideration, I agreed with them that the blacks looked good rough for this drawing (open it in a new tab to see it at full size). I believe it might be the roughest drawing I've ever agreed to let go to print and I'm pretty happy with that decision.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Rules of Jerky-Boy Engagement

I'm not sure why I thought of Leprechaun II while drawing this.

The character's supposed to live in New Jersey so for the sake of accuracy, I ran this sketch by my trusted guide in the ways of all things Jersey, Daniel Drennan. What follows is a selection from a series of emails on the subject:

Me: Does this sound authentically Jersey?

Daniel: Oh my God. Now you have me analyzing authentic Jerseyness?

Okay, if I think about it, she wouldn't be laughing. She would be sympathetic, empathetic, and the stuff she is saying would be more a corrective; a kind of asking: "What did you do that for?" while understanding it all the same on some level.

Her cursing needs to reflect either a kind of escalation or a de-escalation; and it would be "frickin'" more than "friggin'"...

And contrasted with the "dumb" talk would be revelations of "knowing"...the Jersey debate, as it were... Lucky Charms for example had a leprechaun as a mascot and the tag line "Magically Delicious"...

So maybe:

1) "What are you, a frickin' leprechaun?"

2) "Dude! How many times did you watch Leprechaun II?"

3) "What, is someone after your Lucky Charms?"

4) "Cuz you look "Magically Ridiculous!"

Me: I think I'm starting to get the hang of it...

But... I'm also thinking of the times when I go out of my way to win an argument through sheer douchebagery. Would it make sense for her to be super-mean sometimes or is the standard boilerplate to approach the debate with faux-diplomacy and then invert the nature of the cosmos?

Daniel: It really depends on the nature of the discussion and with whom. If I'm talking with a friend, then I assume the diplomatic stance and let them have it in the debate but with the nuance that shows I'm kidding, and things will de-escalate.

If I'm talking with an enemy, then I assume the diplomatic stance and let them have it in the debate but with the nuance that shows I'm *not* kidding, and that things could escalate.

"Invert the nature of the cosmos" LOL

The meanness in this situation is more to show that the other person has let you down somehow; there's no real gratuitous meanness....when you listen to Glen Jones and XRay burns going at it, XRay will often go way overboard, and the best weapon of Glen is his dead silence on the air, as XRay has to slowly back down....

Me: Considering most of [the story is] just gonna be a bunch of depressed people complaining about their lives, I'm thinking more and more about how to use this escalating/de-escalating as a framework for how the characters articulate what's really going on in their head... Like when one of them goes silent, we know we're hitting a sour note and the discussion doesn't need to go further for the reader to understand what to make out of the jerky-boy discussion that just ensued. So the silent moments punctuate the overall structure of the narrative. Whatcha think?

Daniel: Perfect. It also allows for a projection from the reader into what is going on....I'm very much about the "unsaid" saying more than the "said" these days.

Although I feel like I'm giving away "house secrets"!

* * *

If there's a lesson to be learned about the creative process here, it's that one shouldn't ignore Leprechaun II.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Boy-Genius, A Couple of Pervs, Super-powered Little Girls and Yet Another Monkey

These illustrations were for a series featured in the second issue of F/I/M²/P magazine. The theme was a revival of the 90s so I decided to recreate my experience of that decade by drawing what pretty much consumed all my time back then: cartoons. I'll leave it to you to figure out what cartoon series these are...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Superheroes and Monkeys

This is the poster for an exhibition I've got coming up this Friday (the 13th!). If you agree that it looks pretty badass, it's because it was designed by the fine folks at A Fish in Sea who are hosting the event (my only contribution to it was the Monkey tail and those spotty things).

There's going to be a bunch of original pages and sketches from comic book and kid's book projects I've worked on (and an Evil Penguin!). If you're in Beirut between the 13th and the 20th of July and would like to check it out, open the poster in a new tab to see it at a larger size for all the details. Hoping to run into some readers there!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Character Doodle

This was a quick sketch on a note pad while doing a very remedial job. I liked the way this girl looked and then figured she would fit into a larger narrative I'm working on. The moral of this story: be mindful of your office supplies.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Let's Comics 2012: THE COMPETITION

This is the visual for the Lets Comics 2012 Competition. I'd advise any comics artist from Lebanon or the surrounding region to apply considering that up to twelve winners are going to be selected for exhibition during the International Festival of Comics Beirut 2012 (as well as publication in the festival catalogue), and up to five winners are going to be selected for publication in the Italian magazine Popoli.

The competition rules are all available at this link.

For more information on the Let's Comics project, you can visit the official website.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The Adventures of the Little Monkey is the second book I illustrated for Ghayaat to be displayed in the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. It revolves around a young boy who learns about rules by going on a (possibly imagined) adventure to a jungle with his toy monkey. The lessons about following rules weren't particularly interesting but the adventure itself was very informative (I actually learned a lot about chimps from this story) and also very fun to draw... mostly because of the baby chimps.

On another positive note, I probably learned more on this book than on any other project I ever worked on mostly because of an unexpected scheduling issue that came up. The original plan was to illustrate this book completely digitally in the same manner as the previous book but given the time constraints, it was necessary to find a faster way to shade everything. I decided to do the entire book in ink wash and then add the colors digitally. I’ve done a lot of work with this technique before but never for a project of this size so I started with a certain amount of trepidation, as I was unsure I could maintain a consistent look. The great thing about having to work with a near impossible deadline is that you don’t get the chance to reconsider or second-guess yourself, and that forces you to stick with every decision you make. Having to constantly adapt to unexpected strokes or shades ended up teaching me a lot about the medium of ink wash that I hadn’t previously considered, so although it would have probably been easier to teach a baby seal how to mingle in high society, this project ended up being a highlight in terms of practical application. I’m also very happy with it because out of all the kid’s books I’ve worked on so far, this one has the most manual work.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Five Minute Comic

This is what happens when you have a post-it, a bic pen, a highlighter and five minutes to kill...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Jazz, Organs and Dancing Buildings

This was by far one of the best projects I've gotten the chance to work on. When I was first approached about it and given a sample of the music, I was completely blown away and decided I had to work on it somehow. We started out with an idea from our director, Darine Hotait and set off from there hoping people wouldn't freak out at the sight of a musician's innards. It was also great to finally get the chance to work with one of my best friends, Rafic Saab on the animation. Although we've thrown projects to each other for feedback quite a bit in the past, we had never gotten the chance to actually work on something together before so the timing for this came together nicely. It also didn't hurt that this project got nominated for an Emmy!

Here's a description with credits:

ASHUR is a jazz record by award winning pianist and composer Tarek Yamani on Edict Records. 
The album is available in online stores. 

Tarek Yamani - piano
Goran Krmac- tuba
Kristijan Krajncan - drums

Video credits:
Directed by Darine Hotait 
Illustration & Animation by Fouad Mezher and Rafic Saab 
Produced by Cinephilia Productions 

Track: "Sama'i Yamani"

©2012 Cinephilia Productions

The video is available in better quality here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hind Loses Her Stories

This book was illustrated for Ghayaat and released in the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. It's the second kid's book I worked on that revolves around a little girl (the titular Hind) and how reading affects her life. The difference is that this book starts out with Hind forgetting her stories at the airport, leading the remainder of the story to explore her interactions with the other passengers and how they cheer her up by bringing up different ways to tell/hear a story (such as making it up yourself). The best thing about illustrating this book was how nosey and curious Hind was.

The process on this book was very different from what I've become accustomed to. Usually, I prefer breaking down the story myself so it was a bit of a challenge to try and figure out how to visualize the description assigned for each page/spread. Given that everything takes place on a plane, it was difficult figuring out how to block the action clearly considering that there were always chairs in everyone's way.

The other challenge on this book was the amount of detail that was requested in the amount of time that I ended up having for coloring (twelve drawings in two weeks). Needless to say, this book led to many discoveries in the late hours of the night. By the time I got to the last page, I decided I wanted to try and document what I was doing so here's a brief overview:

Overall, it was a very similar process to the sort of work I've done before with ink wash except that the final execution was entirely digital. The first step was to select all the individual elements and place them on separate layers. The benefit of that was the ability to select everything easily and create a constrained area while painting in the details for every character. It's also a good way to cheat by letting a brushstroke keep going for the parts of a layer that are covered by another overlapping layer.

After everything is painted in greyscale, the image is flattened, saved as a new file and a texture is placed over it (preferably with the "soft light" blending mode). After it's textured, it's given a color cast to determine the basic light quality. I usually do that by first going to "Hue/Saturation" and using the "Colorize" option and then going into "Levels" and messing with the separate channels to give the different tonalities a variation in hue to try and match the feel of how film is affected by different temperatures.

The final step is to add color. What I do is bring back my original layers at this point because they're already organized and named selections. I use these selections to place a flat color over every item (or part of it). I place the layer of color of in "Soft Light"so that the color is affected by the color cast already present in the image. The benefit of this is that it saves a lot of time that would have otherwise been spent guessing what something might look like under a certain light setting. Sometimes, the results are surprising so it's a technique I'd highly recommend...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"I Like It When We Read Together"

I Like It When We Read Together is the latest book I've illustrated for Asala. As the title suggests, the story follows a little girl who reads with her mom every night and highlights the positive impact it has on her life.