In 2014, Italian cartoonist Zerocalcare—née Michele Rech—found himself embroiled in events most people experience through a filter of news headlines and camera footage. He had joined the NGO Rojava Calling, a charity devoted to aiding the Kurdish population against the Islamic State in an autonomous area located between Syria and Turkey. As a journalist and aid worker, Zerocalcare spent time in Mesher and Ayn Al-Arab, encountering the all-female volunteer army, the Yekeineyen Parastina Jin, and discovering the intricacies of not only the ISIS struggle, but Syria’s Civil War and volatile social dynamics.
He documented his time with the Kurdish Resistance in Kobane Calling: Greetings from Northern Syria, an original graphic novel first released in the Italian weekly International before being collected by Milanese publisher BAO last April. Lion Forge will present the English translation this October, in an experience that hints at global fish-out-of-water works like Craig Thompson’s Carnet de Voyage or Guy Delisle’s oeuvre, married to the cutting, geo-political intrigue of Sarah Glidden’s Rolling Blackouts. One interesting facet of the book is the art style, which takes a more exaggerated, hyperbolic line, deviating from the more conservative or photo-realistic approaches that traditionally complement this genre in American markets.
Check out the video above for a preview of Kobane Calling: Greetings from Northern Syria, which releases this October.