What is Love?

Did you know the Ancient Greek had at least seven words to describe the concept of Love? There’s agape (deep devoted love), eros (lust), philia (friendship), storge (family love), ludus (playful love), pragma (rational love) and philautia (self love).

Ludus literally means “game”, so I decided to draw a game board in my upcoming book Love: a Discovery in Comics. It’s not accidental that practitioners of this kind of love are often called “players”.

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On the other end of the spectrum there’s pragma, the very rational, pragmatic approach to relationships. A famous example of someone who used this approach is Charles Darwin:

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I drew part of Darwin’s list before, in Science: a Discovery in Comics:

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Love: a Discovery in Comics is out in bookstores in June!

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Love is coming!

My newest book, on Love this time, will hit bookstores in June! It will be first available at the TCAF comic con in Toronto on May 11 & 12, which Yiri and I will be attending (find us at the NBM booth for a chat!).

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The first review, from Publisher’s Weekly is already in, and I’m really happy that they call it upbeat, good-natured and affable:

The latest in de Heer’s series of simple, cheery graphic novel guides to big topics like science, philosophy, and religion finds the Dutch cartoonist tackling the meaning of love. Taking her own romantic history and current relationship with her husband (and colorist) Yiri Kohl as the opening story, she expands into such subjects as the history of marriage, the chemical components of desire, the seven kinds of love identified by the ancient Greeks, and the Kama Sutra and Song of Songs. Her gesticulating cartoon avatar shares her expertise on romance novels and attends a speed dating event. It’s an upbeat and good-natured sampling of issues related to partnership, lust, and romance, but the topic of love is far too vast to be covered satisfyingly in a 120-page comic. The broadly smiling, roly-poly cartoon characters and bright colors make the arguments accessible to a fault. Ultimately, the cartoon version of de Heer reaffirms her relationship with Kohl, but she doesn’t come to any conclusions that could be considered truly universal. While affable, this is an unchallenging ramble through a topic that could easily provide fodder for an entire separate series of graphic investigations.

It is true that I found it hard to come up with truly universal truths about love. In my own experience, the subject is so complex, that when you want to condense it you either have to describe purely scientific facts or stick to personal experience, in order to avoid reverting to platitudes. In this book (as in all my books), I’ve done both: the broad view with facts such as the history of marriage, contents of the Kama Sutra and chemicals in the brain, AND my own personal story of being in a long-term relationship with Yiri.

prologue

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Will our marriage withstand the onslaught that is the Seven Year Itch…? Read all about it in ‘Love – a Discovery in Comics!’

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Oh, and I also threw in a few frivolities, such as this:

jealousy

Of all of my books, this is the one I had most fun with drawing. I hope lots of readers will LOVE it!

 

A New Year!

What a year it’s been – what a year to come… Here’s how Minnie and her girlfriend Mia feel about it:

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And here’s the New Year’s card Yiri and I sent out:

2019

On the left we listed main events of 2018: the death of our beloved cat Toto, my tattoo, a theater play, illustrations for a new book with Karel Eykman, lots of activities as Comic Artist Laureate, especially the publication of a guide for adding graphic novels to the Dutch Literature reading list in schools – and of course our new cats, Ronja and Loesje.

In 2019 we look forward to our tenth wedding anniversary, publication at NBM of the book on Love and lots of new, unknown things.

One year Comics Laureate

For starters: congratulations to Hannah Berry, who was appointed UK Comics Laureate yesterday! To be honest, I was not aware of the title in the UK, or that it’s written as “comics laureate” rather than “comic artist laureate” (although I’ll stick to the latter, because I like more words).

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The task of “comics ambassador” in the UK revolves around many of the same issues as mine: more visibility, and promoting comics in education. And I love that Hannah is also a short-haired, bespectacled female comics creator. In a few years, we will be the new cliché for our profession, I hope!

Also yesterday, I celebrated my first year at this “job”:

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Another exciting thing on the agenda for the coming year: my book on Love will be published here at NBM! It is scheduled to come out in June, and here’s the cover:

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Death of a Cat

Our cat Toto has died, well over eighteen years old. For us at-home-working, childfree artists, out cats have always been much more than just pets to us – they are life companions…

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Our cats have always found their way into our work. Here’s the last drawing of Toto in the Discovery-series (the book about Love, to be released at a later date by NMB):

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The Story of Our Love

This week, Yiri and I celebrate nine years of marriage and ten years of being together! The funny thing is, I remember saying on our second day or so: “I’m sure that in ten years we’ll still be together, and basically still feeling for each other what we’re feeling now.” And I was right.

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These pages are from our graphic novel about Love, which came out in The Netherlands last year, and may be appearing in the US later this year…