Bigmouth is so excited to announce the release of our second comic by a Lebanese artist, “Wahch Beriut/Beirut Monster” by Beirut-based illustrator, Carla Habib. Highly visual (and, CW, featuring violent and sexual imagery) the comic represents the spread of negative energy and violence through society in a highly visual way. Read more about “Wahch Beirut” and Carla’s work in our interview below!
BM: How did you get started making comics? Why comics over other forms of art?
CH: I always liked drawing, and I found that my uni had a special program for comics. At the time I thought it was a nice middle ground between fine arts and graphic design. So I went for comics, and slowly learned to love it. Today I think comics is one of the best forms of self-expression, and it’s really underrated.
BM: Can you talk about some of the themes and ideas behind “Wahch Beirut” (”Beirut Monster”)? What caused you to tell this story?
CH: “Wahch Beirut” was a direct result of my daily mood at the time. In my third year of uni, I was very open to negative energies around me. I embraced them as I went around Beirut and specially the area of Sin el Fil. (The spaces depicted in the comic happen in that area, around my uni.) And I enjoyed being a hateful bitch as I wandered around. I guess being a person that embodied bad vibes I enjoyed drawing this and I still love it today because i think it’s full of feeling. “Wahch Beirut” means Beirut Monster and this story is basically about the monster that feeds on our bad intentions and behaviors and grows only to contaminate more and more people and places in a never ending loop.
BM: Another one of your comics, The Internal Network, uses a creative layout and addresses issues of communication in the internet age. What’s the story behind this comic? How does this comic continue or break from ideas you were exploring in Wa7sh Beirut?
CH: The “Internal Network” was a shift for me in the way I draw and tell a story. For this longer comic (50 pages) I digitally drew the story of four characters that use Facebook by documenting a lot of real people. I wanted them to be seen through their profile before gradually intruding in their real physical life. I also wanted them to be separated, since our Facebook experiences are so personal and private. In the end, they all meet somehow in a moment in physical reality: at a protest. That moment in reality represents both the complete opposite of virtual reality (since the main condition of a protest is to attend physically), and the most similar experience to the virtual world. (Where all sorts of people meet in a desperate need to express themselves). The open ending intends to raise questions about the need to “get out there”, the extreme nature of which would be to protest or rebel. If that phenomena was still spreading through a different language now, what does it say about our inner evolution? And if that idea of expressing oneself remains, then what is the reason of its existence? It might be obvious that our nature is to evolve as time passes and that rejection is a means to growth But most importantly, how do we know we’re going and growing the right way? In “Wahch Beirut” the revolt only created more violent chaos. In the “Internal Network”, the ending is open to interpretation.
BM: How does the layout of a zine or comic impact the story telling for you?
CH: Before a certain point I wasn’t really aware about the importance of the layout of my stories. When I started creating “The Internal Network”, I built the story line on the shape of the layout. I thought of the form before the content as I had started noticing how much the physical unfolding of the story could be part of the storytelling. In this comic, the layout helped isolate each character in a booklet while keeping them connected underneath by the same background and back-cover, that of the protest.
BM: What is the goal of your work? How do you hope it will impact the reader, and who is your target audience?
CH: There is a constantly evolving answer to that sort of question. I always ask myself “What’s the point of what I do” to the point that I keep doubting myself. In the back of my mind I know I want to share my vision of things, probably for my own satisfaction but similarly hoping to make someone else less lonely and helpless. I never really thought about my target audience. Eventually I would say “for anyone interested”.