In Prague

in prague_edited-1

Truth be told, the marionette maker was hot. I would have let him put 4 strings on me. 

In 2003, I went to Prague to study writing with the late, great Arnošt Lustig. I was his TA, and the Rabbit was the administrative assistant in the program office–neither of us could have afforded these classes otherwise–and almost every single day I came close to being run over by a tram. All the lanes in Prague are martyr’s lanes, not because their public transit system murders absent-minded students, but because Prague is a city of churches and martyrs, and someone had the misfortune to be killed for their beliefs on pretty much every corner. Their are plaques everywhere, notifying you of who was martyred on that spot, and why and how. Prague is an old, old city. The part of Prague called New Town (Nové Město in Czech) was built in 1348. The old part is much, much older.

I have sharp memories of Prague because, when I went, my brother asked me to write him this travelogue, so not only did I record everything that happened, I’ve read over it a few times through the years. I wasn’t that into photography at the time, though. I just had a couple disposable cameras, and I didn’t take a lot of pictures. I mean, I have a whole album of pictures from Prague, but I was there for a while and there are notable lacunae. For example, I never took a picture in a puppet shop. I had the worst trouble finding a good source image, but the last panel shows a decent sampling of the sort of thing you’d find in one.

Originally, I planned to do this comic in black and white, but after looking at a photograph of Kafka’s lover, Dora Diamant, along with images of wet cobblestones under streetlights, it seemed like a more sepia toned image would convey the proper gravity. I’ve been tinkering with a black background for a much longer comic I’d like to do, and this one helps me see how the other one could go together. This comic took close to 8 hours to draw (over the space of 2 days), and I could probably tinker with the lines another 4 hours before it satisfied me. The astrological clock came out pretty cool, but could be tighter. Same with the marionettes. And the perspective on the cobblestones is a bit wobbly on the left side of the panel, although I guess that could just symbolically highlight the tripping part. All in all, I pretty happy with it. I just don’t have 8 hours every day to ensure that every comic hits this standard. I mean, I can’t hold the stylus that long. My hand hurts. How do other artists do it?

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