A graphic novel set in Lausanne a century ago.

In April 2022 the TLP team announced plans to publish a graphic novel, intended to bring their network’s research to a wider audience than any academic volume could hope to reach. Although the themes of genocide, forced migration and expropriation are challenging and serious, work by Art Spiegelman, Joe Sacco and others has demonstrated the potential of the medium to explore the darkest pages of twentieth-century history in a challenging, thought-provoking yet also respectful manner.

The writing team consists of TLP founders Ozan Ozavci and Jonathan Conlin, as well as Julia Secklehner, who is responsible for leading the novel project as a whole. The artist is Gökçe Erverdi, who lives and works in Istanbul. A graduate of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, his cartoons and illustrations have featured in various Turkish magazines. He has also produced graphic novel adaptations of Sabahattin Ali’s Kürk Mantolu Madonna and Kuyucaklı Yusuf.

In Cutting the Strings our heroes are Hacivat (“Ivaz the Pilgrim”) and Karagöz (“Black Eye”), figures well-known (in slightly different spellings) across Turkey, Greece and the Balkans from traditional shadow-puppet theatre, itself imported from Southeast Asia in the sixteenth century. True to form, our duo (and Schubert the cat) will travel west from their somewhat obscure corner of southeast Anatolia, hoping to make it rich at the great gathering in Lausanne. With a little help from journalists Clare Sheridan and Ernest Hemingway, as well as the Hungarian artists Aloïs Derso and Emery Kelèn (of Guignol à Lausanne fame), the pair will slowly come to make sense of the contrasting scenes of excess and exile, diplomacy and destruction unfolding around them. Far from presenting the Lausanne settlement as “settled”, the novel will draw on all the artist’s skill to relay a sense of diverging interpretations – and even give the reader a chance to come up with their own.

Cutting the Strings will be around 100 pages long, and we plan to publish editions in Turkish, Greek, Armenian, French and English. Please follow us on Twitter to hear more about this project as it develops. For a taste of what’s to come, use the horizontal slider on the image below to see the transition from storyboard to finished page.

Move the <> slider to move between draft and finished panels.