Friday, December 30, 2016

The Realist

by Asaf Hanuka

I've been a fan of both Asaf Hanuka and his twin brother Tomer for a while now, but had never read any of his strips done for the Calcalist, an Israeli newspaper.  For a number of years, beginning in 2010, Hanuka provided the paper with a weekly strip, consisting either (typically) of a nine-panel grid or a single splash page (although other formats were used).

The content of these strips, collected in The Realist in English for the first time, is very autobiographical.  Hanuka covers fatherhood, his rather turbulent relationship with his wife, their trips as a couple or a family, and what life is like in Tel Aviv for someone in the creative class.

Of course this book can get pretty political in places, but Hanuka rarely strays from looking at how things affect him.  When politics or conflict creep in, it's because I imagine it touches everything in the country, and is inescapable.  Hanuka is careful to avoid expressing clear opinions on the major issues that Israel faces - its occupation of Palestinian territory, its apartheid policies, or the rise of fundamentalism within Israeli society.  Instead, we see how he goes about his days, and what effect all of these things have on him and his family.

Hanuka's art is beautiful.  He employs a variety of styles here, depending on what kind of short story he's trying to tell, or what point he wants to make, but every page is gorgeous.  It's hard to imagine these pages in a newspaper.

This is an impressive book.

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