This month sees the American release of The Abaddon by award- winning Israeli creator, Koren Shadmi, via Z2 comics. Popular in his own country and across Europe, this book will substantially increase the Brooklyn based illustrator’s work. Based loosely on Jean-Paul Sarte’s play No Exit, the book tells the story of a young man, Ter, who finds himself trapped in an otherworldly apartment with a group of dysfunctional, ill-matched roommates. Ter is aghast to discover that his new, grotesque reality is not governed by the laws of nature, and that his roommates are missing critical chunks of their memories and identities — as is he. Here at Comic Crusaders, we caught up with Koren to discuss influences, reading material and problems facing creators in the comic book industry:-
KS: When I was 9 my mom sent me to a comics course with Uri Fink, who was one of the most prominent cartoonists in Israel at the time. After the first class I was discouraged, everyone was older and better than me. But my mom already paid for the class so I had to go, and a few classes in I caught the comics bug and started loving it.
CC: The Abaddon has been said to be David Lynch-esque. Is he a major influence? Who are your other influences both film and comic wise?
KS: In film I really enjoy the work of Ingmar Bergman, Jodorowsky, Cronenberg, and too many to mention. I think The Abaddon is very influenced by the early films of Roman Polanski, like Repulsion and The Tenant, they dealt with entrapment and apartments coming alive. Pretty amazing stuff. -Comics wise, all the usual suspects, Chris Ware, Chester Brown and of course Crumb.
KS: Not so much, I had shot some guns at basic training so I knew a few things, and I did have a female commander – something I understand is not too common in the US, but that’s where the similarities end. I was too much of a wuss to be a fighter, so my basic training was with all the least healthy people in the army, some people could barely walk, they were real easy on us. After that was done I served as graphic designer – so I didn’t see any ‘action’ and I don’t really have PTSD or anything.
CC: What challenges do you have to overcome as a non-American creator?
KS: First off, after 14 years here, I think I’m almost 68% American. As far as being a comics creator – I think I’m dealing with the same challenges everyone else has, comics are hard, and just getting something published is a triumph, so I’m very happy to see the book out. It was much easier to get it published in France, I had s few offers immediately, I think the US market is over-saturated with creators and its super competitive. These are tough times and you gotta be really determined.
CC: Back to the book, each character has elements of their memory missing. How did this twist come about? Is it reflective of say your personal experiences, with each character representing people you’ve met that you feel were missing something or is more of an internal view of things that you were maybe missing at some point in your life?
KS: This part is taken from the play ‘no exit’ – the characters seem to have a vague idea of who they are, and their memories slowly come to them bit by bit. I made it more extreme in the comic, making them forget a lot more. I think it enhances the mystery when a character doesn’t know much about themselves and you can discover that together with them on their journey.
CC: What are you currently reading comic book wise?
KS: The first volume of the complete Peanuts, so far so good. I also finally read the first Incal book last month, it’s a classic!
KS: Doing webcomics means dealing with little deadlines every week, I stocked up on pages so I wouldn’t have to stress over it, so I was never really working till the last-minute to post something, but I kept in mind that it’s just two pages a week, and you can feel it sometimes in the book that there are very tiny cliff hangers at the end of almost every page.
CC: What’s next for you?
KS: There’s a new book coming out later next year which is called Love Addict, more details to come soon.
CC: Thanks again Koren, good luck with The Abaddon and Love Addict.
If you want to check out the book, due out shortly, here is the Amazon link, http://amzn.com/1940878055
For more details on The Abaddon, keep an eye on our review section.