Not from Mars: Rawand Issa’s new zine is a powerful manifesto on life, love, and being a girl

Originally published April 4, 2017 on Bigmouth Comix.

BIGMOUTH is so excited to welcome Lebanese illustrator Rawand Issa to the family! (We formerly featured her work on Bigmouth here.) Her fanzine, “Not From Mars,” is a personal comic manifesto of sorts on life, love, and being a woman. Hers is the first zine from Lebanon that we have printed in the U.S. and will be distroing through Bigmouth!
To learn more about Rawand and her work, we interviewed her. Read on for more!

BM: Tell us about yourself as an artist. How did you get into making comics?
RI: I’m not sure if I can call myself a comic artist, yet. Since I’m new to comic making. But I know I am an illustrator. I actually worked as a writer for 5 years in the local journalistic field, before switching into Illustration “professionally” in 2015. Illustration, even a bit of painting (on canvas) was a hobby I used to enjoy. I was more passionate about journalism and documentation. Until I was introduced to Joe Sacco and the term Comic Journalism! I decided this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to be a comic journalist!

BM: What caused you to create ‘Not From Mars’? RI: The most books that influenced me are autobiographies. For example, Nawal ElSaadawi’s “مذكراتي في سجن النساء” actually encouraged me to take actions in my life. It’s powerful to tell people that this happened to me! Rather than, this happened. The concept of Zines is new to me, and I was amazed by the fact the one can produce a publication by their own, without having to go through the process of publishing houses and the market. It’s a revolutionary act! “Not from Mars” talks about situations that a girl (which is myself) living in a conservative, capitalist society. The situations are common to many of us ‎insofar as the personal is always in one way or another also political and thus public.

BM: What other comics or illustrations have you created that you are proud of?
RI: I worked on some cartoons that was published at The Legal Agenda Magazine, about the conditions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Those means to me the most for the responsibility I felt while working on them.

BM: Any new or upcoming works that we should look out for? RI: Yes! We’re starting a comic zine collective called ZEEZ! 5 young comic artists and myself - based in Beirut, are starting a collective to produce zines seasonally. We’re hoping to launch our first work in June!

You can buy a copy of Not From Mars in the shop. And follow Rawand on instagram @rawandissa_ for more of her work and updates on ZEEZ!

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