It all started way back in 2007…
I had the good fortune to be making occasional comics for newspaper NRC.Next, with a special assignment: I visited theater shows and made reviews in comic form. I loved the format, and wanted to extend it to other areas.
In April 2007 a philosopher from the North of Holland did a stunt: he spent a week in a huge casket, just like the Greek philosopher Diogenes in the fourth century B.C. I went up and visited him, and drew a comic report about it.
Unfortunately, NRC.Next wouldn’t print it, since they didn’t really have a corner for philosophy. So I went to newspaper Trouw, which not only printed the comic, but gave me my own monthly spot in the paper, which I was free to fill with comic reports on philosophical and spiritual matters.
Since then, I have produced about forty comic reports on a wide range of subjects: I Ching, a convention about Happiness, the Reality of Lord of the Rings, Hallucinogenics, Buddhism, Near Death Experiences, Freemasonry, a Phone Line to God, Freud, the Crusades and Virtual Reality. (some have them have been translated and can be read here). All of the trips I made to special events were huge fun and gave me more than enough to draw about – except one.
In 2009 I attended a talk about Spinoza which was so dull, vague and unfocused that I could see no way to make the experience into a useful comic. So I did something more general: I made a comic about the life and thoughts of Spinoza.
It was a great success! I received lots of fanmail about it from people with an interest in philosophy, who thought my comic did not only represent Spinoza very well, but did so in a very fun and accessible way.
A few months later I got a call from publisher Kees Korenhof from Uitgeverij Meinema (specializing in philosophical books). He asked me if I would like to make a comic book about philosophy, in the same vein as the comic reports. My husband and I looked at each other and said: Of course! It was the middle of the crisis, there weren’t many assignments coming my way but we managed financially, so we could easily devote ourselves to making a whole comic book, something that has been a dream of mine anyway.
It was a gamble for the publisher, since Meinema had never published comics and aims at a very specific audience. The first imprint had a cautious number, to see how the book would do. Thanks to a big interview in the newspaper, the first print was sold out in a week, even before the official book presentation. By now, the book has seen three prints, an online workbook and several positive reviews.
Well, hold on until September, then get your own copy of ‘Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics’ and see what all the (my) fuss is about!
By the way, part of the Spinoza comic made it into the book – the only piece that has actually been published before, everything else is completely new material.