'Illustrations that happened to me'
Illustrator Rutu Modan hits the big time with The New York Times.
The personal column of Israeli illustrator and comics artist Rutu Modan has begun appearing in the on-line version of The New York Times. The column, which goes under the title "Mixed Emotions," brings together short texts and illustrations, as well as personal episodes in Modan's life.
Modan's new graphic novel, "Exit Wounds," which was published a few months ago in Italy, appeared last week in an English edition (published by Drawn and Quarterly), and was distributed in the United States and Britain, where it received favorable reviews. The book's plot takes place in Israel and tells the story of a youngster who searches for his father who had disappeared after a terrorist attack.
"The New York Times approached me, apparently in the wake of a copy of my new book that was sent to them," says Modan, who has been living in the English city of Sheffield over the past few months because of her partner's work. "The illustrator Maira Kalman went on leave, and I was invited to fill her position for six months. It is very nice, because in this column I can both write and add a text with my illustrations."
She describes the content of the column as "personal stories that are a little bit funny and a little ironic, things that happened to me over the years." Modan explains that the combination of text and illustration is the most perfect form of expression for her. "There is a reason why I'm an illustrator rather than a painter. This combination is what is most to my liking, and if I do the writing myself rather than illustrate someone else's texts, it makes it possible for me to do the thing that most interests me," she says.
Modan's column appears on the first Wednesday of each month on TimesSelect section of the Times Internet site, which is accessible only to those with a subscription to the newspaper's printed version (or to the Haaretz English edition). In her first column, published last month, Modan spoke about her first visit to New York - a trip that she took with her father in honor of her 21st birthday. The second column, which appeared last week, tells about the birth of her first child.
Modan wrote the stories and texts to the comics she published over the years, but the new personal column provides an opportunity for her "to do something different, something which is less of a story and more journalism," as she puts it.