Save 30% on Ted Rall’s ‘To Afghanistan and Back’ & More

Twenty years ago this week, a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the militant Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States of America on the morning of September 11th.

The United States reacted, bombing the Taliban. Controversial cartoonist Ted Rall didn’t just watch it on TV–he jumped on a plane straight to the war zone to get the real story for himself.

But the only cartoonist to go to Afghanistan got more than he bargained for, way more than his previous gut-wrenching trip deep up the legendary Silk Road. Within days of arriving, armed men were hunting down journalists to murder and rob them. Waving funnies didn’t help.

From the gruesome spectacle of a Taliban prisoner blowing himself up with grenades to the hilarious image of mujahideen lining up for shaves and DVD porn a day after joining the Northern Alliance, you can count on Rall for a decidedly different take on this gritty war.

To Afghanistan and Back, features as its centerpiece a 50-page graphic novel travelogue of his experience as a cartoonist and war correspondent. It also includes Rall’s articles, cartoons and photos as filed from the front for the Village Voice and syndicated throughout America.

Ted Rall saw all the way back then how this was doomed to failure. Called a “tremendous contribution to comics war journalism” by Publishers Weekly, and Booklist reviewed To Afghanistan and Back stating,”For alternative views of post-9/11 politics, don’t pass up this small, potent volume.”

Now with Afghanistan in the news once again, we encourage readers to explore both this book and others by Ted Rall, who has earned his reputation as a stellar reporter, twice winning the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and is a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Through the month of September, you can order any of Rall’s NBM titles and save 30% by entering the code: “RALL” at checkout.

NBM Heads to TCAF!

This week NBM heads (virtually) to the 2021 Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF), with several special panels and appearances.

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival exists to promote the breadth and diversity of comics, and what is considered comics, as legitimate medium of literary and artistic worth. We seek to promote the creators of these works in their broad and diverse voices, for the betterment of the medium of comics and to reach as wide an audience as possible for them.

This year, TCAF takes place May 8th to 15th, 2021, across a digital event space and marketplace, and NBM will have a strong presence.


PANELS

Boulet Spotlight
Live, Tuesday, May 11th, 5:00 PM EST

Online comics superstar Boulet returns to TCAF! Best known for his diary webcomic, bouletcorp.com, Boulet is the French author of over 20 books, including (available in English) Notes and Augie and the Green Knight. He is also a contributor to the Dungeon series with Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar. Join Boulet and interviewer Peter Birkemoe in this feature spotlight!

To register for this panel, click HERE.

(The panel will be available to screen anytime after it goes live on Tuesday).




The Secrets of Chocolate with Franckie Alarcon (French Language)
Wednesday, May 12th, 3:00 PM EST; Pre-recorded.

France is renowned for their mastery of the 9th Art. Join Peter Birkemoe in conversation with French artist Franckie Alarcon. Do you want to know about The Secrets of Chocolate, or perhaps The Art of Sushi? Alarcon discusses the process behind creating these works. Alarcon’s The Secrets of Chocolate (June 2021) follows one of the most renowned chefs within the world of chocolate, Jacques Genin, to create this docu-comic series.

Bring your own chocolate to enjoy this panel in 4D! 

(The panel will be available to screen anytime after it goes live on Wednesday).

To register for this panel, click HERE.


ONLINE EXHIBITOR ROOM

Thursday, May 13th, 8:00 – 10:00 PM

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to directly interact with some of NBM’s cartoonists. Simply enter the queue and the moderator will place you directly in the room with the guest of your choice.

Participating talent includes Ted Rall and Larry Hancock & Michael Cherkas. 

To join the queue for this panel, click HERE.


LIBRARIES & EDUCATION DAY 2021

Friday, May 14th

TCAF Libraries & Education Day is a day of programming aimed at teachers, teacher-librarians, librarians, library workers and collection managers who want to know more about incorporating comics and graphic novels into their collections and classrooms. Information-rich presentations and lectures, panel discussions, and workshops impart valuable information about building collections, improving circulation, targeting important demographics, and integrating comics into classroom use.

Comics Publisher Speed-Dating
4pm to 5pm EST

Join NBM creators Ted Rall and Pablo Callejo (The Stringer, The Year of Loving Dangerously) and Michael Cherkas and Larry Hancock (The Silent Invasion series) for a series of short sessions to learn about new and forthcoming graphic novels from each press and meet creators. Over the course of this session publishers will rotate between your break-out rooms in 10-15 mini-sessions that offer a mix of presentations and Q&A session!

During the Festival, several NBM titles will be available at the TCAF Online Marketplace

For more details, visit the TCAF 2021 site

The Stringer – Making of (2)

Hello everyone!

Let’s show a new “making of” for a page of “The Stringer”. As I said in a previous entry, I start by doing a fast schematic scketch directly on the margins of the script sent by Ted.

As you can see, there were initially only 4 panels, but I added three more in order to feel more confortable and give the reader all the information. Lucky me, Ted is a very detailed writer, but also very flexible and open to change if it makes my life easier. So you can see the final 7-panels structure under the text.

Ok, first drawing on the new panel structure:

For the central panel background, supposedly showing a street in Amsterdam, I mixed two photos from a trip I made some time ago. It’s actually not Amsterdam, or even Holland, but Ghent and (I think) Bruges, in Belgium.

And voilà, a beautiful fake view of Amsterdam!

Now let’s move to the inking, adding some extra details: the beard for the first character, the 500-Euro banknotes and the bank statement:

Then I add the plain colors:

Some shadows, the only text balloon, and it’s done! Ready to receive one of those wads of cash in payment for all the hard work! 😁

I hope you liked it! More interesting stuff to come!!

The Stringer on wheels

Hello!

I always loved drawing cars, motorcycles and anything with wheels.

My sister-in-law Helena keeps some of my first drawings that I made (aged 3-4 years) in the letters my older brother sent her when they were still sweethearts . Those drawings were invariably of cars, crazy racing stories, influenced by the cartoons “Wacky Races” and “Mach GoGoGo” (she jealously guards those letters in the absurd hope that someday they will have some value, poor little thing!).

Therefore, for someone like me it is a pleasure to illustrate a story written by Ted Rall, in which his characters are always running from one side to the other using all kinds of means of transportation, which he often describes in detail.

If we add that the story takes place in different countries and at different times, as in “The Stringer”, the pleasure of researching, documenting and drawing the appropriate vehicles, borders on lust for me, a maniac of documentation and accuracy.

So, let’s take a look at what we can find in “The Stringer” (in order of appearance in the book):

In the cover, I draw a Land Rover Defender with a lot of life behind it and certainly more than one interesting story to tell. Choosing this model is poetic license, because the quintessential all-terrain vehicle of the Middle East foreign reporters is the Toyota, as we will see later. But I find the Land Rover more beautiful, and it is a kind of tribute to its end of production after 67 years of faithful service.

Let’s go into the story: back in the early 70’s, Mark’s father drives a beautiful, massive, stylish Pontiac Grand Prix.

I would like to think it was the 455 cu in (7.5 L) rated at 310 HP, but I don’t see Mark senior as the wheel-burning type, more of a quiet cruiser. It must have been a pleasure to drive that liner with the V8 purring like a cat.

Fast forward in time: it’s the late 70s – early 80s. Mark enters the paradise of citizens allowed to drive. His girlfriend Patricia drives a white Camaro Z28 with red stripes to break hearts of everyone she comes across (at least mine, if I had crossed paths with her at that time). Mark, meanwhile, rides a fabulous badass Chevy Nova SS.

Anecdote: the Nova was Ted Rall’s first car, as you can see in this photo from his youth, in which Ted tries to convert a sports coupe into a station wagon.

Young Ted is under the boat…

Second anecdote: my first car was my father’s Simca 1200, a French shell rated at astounding 52 hp. It’s certainly not the same…

In that same colour!!

Patricia’s Camaro did not have a very good life; here it is a few years later, showing its scars, limping through heavy traffic on the freeway.

Ok, cut to the 21st century. In the middle East countries, modern Toyota Hilux from news agencies and NGOs and old Soviet UAZ trucks coexist seamlessly.

The Hilux was also, unfortunately, the preferred car of ISIS, to the point that in 2015 the U.S. government opened an investigation (with the collaboration of Toyota) to discover the origin of the hundreds of Hilux that ISIS used for its movements and attacks. Different explanations: jumps to dealerships in countries in conflict, “disappearances” of shipments in Australian ports, unscrupulous intermediaries…

Further north, bus travel in the former Soviet republics is a catalog of jalopies with millions of kilometers on their backs. Here we can see a LIAZ on a road in the middle of nowhere in Kazakhstan.

Roads where you can have the most unexpected encounters: for example, a MAZ 537, a prodigious monster from the heyday of Soviet military engineering, towing an old nuclear missile on its way to dismantling.

But it’s not all transportation hardship for Mark. Sometimes he gets around in style, for example in this Mercedes S500, with which he visits a business partner at a former Soviet factory. His partner still drives around in an old UAZ van that we can see parked in the alley.

Mark’s other partners have more budget and move around in better vehicles. And nothing better for a picnic in the dunes than a huge, massive Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6. And if it´s two of them, much better!!

A Lincoln Navigator is not bad either, and is somewhat more discreet, although it requires certain security precautions depending on the country you are in.

But luxury goes out the window when you have to resort to public transport in northern Pakistan. Although the cheerful and extravagant decoration of its buses is quite a spectacle

Anyway, when things get serious nothing like an old and reliable Toyota Land Cruiser, the king of the tough off-roaders ex-aequo with the Land Rover.

A brief parenthesis to better-known places: a Fiat 500, Vespas… which city could it be?

Too bad the Dolce Vita does not last long. Back to the rough roads of northern Afghanistan, where the ditches are overflowing with reminders that the situation is complicated. The ubiquitous Toyota also dominates the cab market in the Middle East, in this case we see a Hiace minivan.

The bandits in these parts have changed the horses for motorcycles. In the foreground, we have a Kawasaki KLE 500 from the first half of the 1990s.

The second one could be a Honda from about the same era. In any case, tough as nails, virtually indestructible and with minimal maintenance, ideal for ISIS blitzkrieg actions.

And this is the end of the automotive review of “The Stringer”, I hope you liked it!

The Stringer: Making of

Hi again,

Since I was a reader in my childhood -One Million Years B.C.- I was curious about how the cartoonists worked. In the age before the Internet, it was hard for a small-town-boy to get this information. So, I searched here and there, digging into magazines and books.

Not too successfully, I must say. The first story I sent to a fanzine -two pages- was drawn in just one paper sheet. I mean, I draw page 1 in the front side, and page 2 in the reverse, just as I see them printed in the magazines.

Ok, enough about embarrassing moments. Just in case you’re curious about the creative process, here you’ve got how I make a page starting from the script sent by Ted Rall.

As you can see, my first sketch is on the same page of the script. Almost illegible. It is just a reference; the page is already in my head.

Then, let’s start with the real page (I work mainly digitally, trying to advance a bit faster than my usual slow pace): don´t forget to put the texts on a separate layer before drawing, you will save a lot of time and headaches.

Here I clean the preliminary drawing, without text:

Then inking, again on a separate layer:

Here is the ink layer after hiding the underlying scketch:

Then I add the plain color. The middle panels are in grayscale and with diffuse borders, we´re supposedly into Mark´s thoughts:

Then shadows…

… and ready for texts and balloons.

Ok, page finished. I send it to Ted (what patience you have!!) to try to look as if I am making some progress and to disguise the fact that there are still 120 more like this one to go. Yay!

“The Stringer” – How it all started.

“I have an idea for a new graphic novel (…). Any interest?”

And with these two simple questions, Ted put the poison back in me.

After publishing “The Year of Loving Dangerously” with Ted Rall in 2009, I fell in my usual state of “feeling-void-after-finishing-a-book”. “YOLD” had been a colossal effort -although a rewarding one- in terms of searching references and creating an appropriate graphic atmosphere. Being myself a maniac of documentation and historical coherence in the silliest details – a car seen in such and such a scene, a magazine cover, the inside of a subway car of NYC in 1984… – and with the level of detail with which Ted elaborates his scripts, the work was simply exhausting.

This “I have lost all my energies and skills” lasts usually for some months for me. But in this case, aggravated by personal trouble, it took around three years until, in February 2013, I received a message from Ted that rang a bell in my brain.

“I have an idea for a new graphic novel.

The book is about a washed up reporter/war correspondent who is largely out of work because newspapers and magazines are all going under and slashing their budgets and closing their foreign bureaus. (…) A wicked take on the state of the media, the collapse of the economy, the Internet, the nature of warfare, etc.

Any interest?”

Of course I was interested!!! So I climbed aboard, never imagining that I was embarking on a 6-year-152-pages-task.

First discussions were about what style would match better the story. I am always experimenting with new things, changes of style, attempts at evolution. At that time I was trying out a style that was not as realistic as “The Year of Loving Dangerously”…

Mmmm… Not this time, sorry!

… nor as dark as “Bluesman”.

No-no…

I was looking for something more schematic, that synthesised reality in order to, without losing realism, give it a more “cartoonish” touch that would fit better with Ted’s satirical-cynical writing.

Much better!

Ok, so we have the style… What about the main character? How should Mark look? He was a guy in his late 40s/early 50s, a little rattled by life but still in the mood, a bit cynical but still confident in himself and his ability. Someone just like Robert Redford in “All the President’s Men” or maybe Nick Nolte in “Under Fire”.


But there was something that didn’t fit the “schematic” style I was looking for. Also, it was necessary to reflect the passage of time – decades – as we told Mark’s story. An obvious recourse would be to make the protagonist’s hair greyer, so he needed to be dark-haired.

So I switched to a most modern look, dark hair and gray temples. Got it!

Discussing with Ted a cast if “The Stringer” were a movie, I see Ben Affleck as Mark. Ted’s betting more on George Clooney, who’s not bad either.

Anyway, Ben or George: if you’re reading this, know that we’re counting on you for the role of a lifetime 🙂

Thank you for reading. More to come on the creative process of “The Stringer” in the next days.

NBM April 2021 Releases

Here are upcoming titles, now being solicited in comic stores through Diamond Previews for an April 2021 release.

 

NEW

THE STRINGER
By Ted Rall and Pablo Callejo

Suffering from budget cuts, layoffs and a growing suspicion that his search for the truth has become obsolete, veteran war correspondent Mark Scribner is about to throw in the towel on journalism when he discovers that his hard-earned knowledge can save his career and make him wealthy and famous. All he has to do is pivot to social media and -with a few cynical twists- abandon everything he cares about most.

A paean to when fact-based journalism mattered, The Stringer, set at an important turning point a few years ago, is a globe-trotting action-packed timely statement about how a society without a vibrant independent culture of reporting can degenerate into chaos and a warning of the dangers of sophisticated new technologies that enable the manufacture and modification of ‘truths’ with no basis in fact.

8 ½ x 11, 152pp, full color HC, $24.99; ISBN 978168112272452499; DIAMOND CODE: FEB21 1422
Pub Date: April 14th, 2021

PREVIEWS

 

AVAILABLE AGAIN

THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY
By Ted Rall and Pablo Callejo


It’s New York City in the 1980s and Ted Rall is in college. Everything is fine before his pranks, lack of focus and restlessness get him expelled. Unable to find a job and rejected by his parents, he considers suicide.

By happenstance he finds comfort in the arms of many women as he bed-hops around the five boroughs. It’s better than homelessness, but the psychic toll of selling himself and his affection was higher than he imagined.

Both acidly funny and brutally honest, Rall, a cartoonist both beloved and reviled for his edgy politics, pours out his guts in this remembrance of this most difficult chapter in his life. Revised paperback edition.

8 ½ x 11″, 128pp, full color TPB., $15.99; ISBN 978168112215151599; DIAMOND CODE: FEB211423

PREVIEWS

 

2024
By Ted Rall

Move forward two decades. See the world as the giant media moguls and software companies have become our new big brothers. They want the best for us. They know what’s best for us. And maybe we don’t always know so well.

Ted ‘I-need-more-enemies’ Rall updates 1984 in a scathing look at where we could be headed; and this is all Rall, no holes barred, no prisoners. His best and most chillingly funny work yet!

6×9, 96 pp., B&W, jacketed hardcover: $16.95; ISBN 156163279151695; DIAMOND CODE: FEB211424

 

SILK ROAD TO RUIN
By
Ted Rall

Part graphic novel travelog, part tongue-in-cheek travel guide, here are the adventures of caustic cartoonist Rall in the wild and wooly central Asian countries, a powder keg sitting on tomorrow’s oil…

Combines articles with comics chapters relating his experiences retracing the old legendary Silk Road starting with the sublime history of China and ending in the absurdity of the petty dictatorships of the “The ‘Stans” where Rall had the temerity -or was it blustery stupidity?- to go back, including once with a group of listeners to his radio show, on a dare.

It’s exotic adventure, satire and a fun way to find out more about a part of the world that looms in importance with its immense reserves of oil…

6×9, 304pp., B&W TPB, US $19.99; ISBN 978156163885751999; DIAMOND CODE: FEB21 1425

PREVIEWS

 

TO AFGHANISTAN AND BACK
By
Ted Rall

The World’s first “Instant Graphic Novel”! When U.S. bombs started raining on the Taliban, Rall didn’t just watch it on TV–he jumped on a plane straight to the war zone to get the real story for himself. But the only cartoonist to go to Afghanistan got more than he bargained for, way more than his previous gut-wrenching trip deep up the legendary Silk Road.

Within days of arriving, armed men were hunting down journalists to murder and rob them. Waving funnies didn’t help. From the gruesome spectacle of a Taliban prisoner blowing himself up with grenades to the hilarious image of mujahideen lining up for shaves and DVD porn a day after joining the Northern Alliance, you can count on Rall for a decidedly different take on this gritty war.

To Afghanistan and Back, features as its centerpiece a 50-page graphic novel travelogue of his experience as a cartoonist and war correspondent. It also includes Rall’s articles, cartoons and photos as filed from the front for the Village Voice and syndicated throughout America.

6×9, 112pp., B & W clothbound, US $15.95; ISBN 978156163325851595; DIAMOND CODE: FEB211426

PREVIEWS

 

BOB MARLEY IN COMICS
By Gaet’s and Sophie Blitman

In the middle of a depressing youth in a ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica, Robert Nesta Marley sees only one way out: music. And that music will be what Jamaica made of rock and pop locally that had hardly been heard anywhere else: reggae!

It is Marley who brings the unmistakable beat of reggae to the entire world. From small stages in Jamaica, his partners of the Wailers accompany him all the way to the most fabulous world tours and adulation. Beyond a rocketing musical career, the most famous rasta wants to shake things up and proclaim all over his humanitarian and egalitarian values.

The next volume in the sellout series featuring the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

7 ½ x10,176pp.,  full color HC: US $27.99: ISBN: 9781681122449652799; DIAMOND CODE: FEB211427

PREVIEWS

 

TAMBA, CHILD SOLDIER
By Marion Achard and Yan Degruel

“My name is Tamba Cisso. When I was eight years old, I lived in the village with my father, my mother and my sister. I went to school and had learned to read. I knew there was war in my country, but I didn’t know that children could wage it.”

Providing a testimonial to one of the most heart-wrenching and chilling developments in modern warfare, this graphic novel chronicles the realities of hundreds of thousands across the world, kidnapped and forced to commit atrocities.

8.5  x11”, 112pp., full color HC, $24.99 US/ $32.50 CAN; ISBN: 9781681122366524499; DIAMOND CODE: FEB211429

PREVIEWS

 

THE LOUVRE COLLECTION: THE RED MOTHER WITH CHILD
By Christian Lax

In Mali in Africa, a red Mother with Child, a 14th century African sculpture, is saved from the destructive madness of Islamists by Alou, a young honey hunter. In the company of other migrants, sisters and brothers of misfortune, Alou goes all out to reach Europe. His goal and his obsession: entrust the precious statuette to the Louvre Museum!

An epic adventure, touching upon the burning worldwide issue of refugees and immigration, in the ever-expanding Louvre collection commissioning graphic novels from leading world artists to spin tales around the famous museum.

9×12, 144pp, full color HC, $27.99 US / $36.50 CAN; ISBN: 978168112257152799; DIAMOND CODE: FEB211428

NBM November 2020 Releases

Here are upcoming titles, now being solicited in comic stores through Diamond Previews for an November 2020 release.

NEW

PLUTOCRACY
Created by Abraham Martínez

2051.The world’s largest company, The Company, has seized power on a planetary scale and runs the world as if it were a business.

In a plutocracy, the richer one is, the more powerful one is. The elections have been replaced by general shareholders’ meetings where the votes are linked to the number of shares owned by citizens. Government is made up of those who own the most shares and it is the laws of the market that govern everything, creating a strange political system.

In this context, an anonymous citizen becomes compelled to uncover how the world came to this situation, without paying any attention to the official version. Without knowing very well why, several members of the government end up encouraging him to carry out this investigation which apparently goes against their interests, by giving him access to all the information. From then on, he decides to pursue two objectives: to discover the true history of The Company and to try to understand what are the various interests that are trying to influence his investigation. The truth behind this power and uncovering it can be frightening but he is determined and has little to lose.

At a time when it seems more and more natural that wealthy people such as Silvio Berlusconi or Donald Trump come to political power, this graphic novel envisions the possibility that, in the near future, the world will be governed by a plutocratic system in which it will go without saying that politics and wealth go hand in hand.

6×9, 144pp., full color HC, $24.99; HC ISBN 9781681122687; DIAMOND CODE: SEP201343

PREVIEWS

 

AVAILABLE AGAIN

GHETTO BROTHER: WARRIOR TO PEACEMAKER
Created by Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering

Introduction by Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation

An engrossing and counter view of one of the most dangerous elements of American urban history, this graphic novel tells the true story of Benjy Melendez, son of Puerto-Rican immigrants, who founded, at the end of the 1960s, the notorious Gh managed to extract an incredibly positive energy from this riot ridden era: his multiracial gang promoted peace rather than violence.

After initiating a gang truce, the Ghetto Brothers held weekly concerts on the streets or in abandoned buildings, which fostered the emergence of hip-hop. Melendez also began to reclaim his Jewish roots after learning about his family’s dramatic crypto-Jewish background.

6×9, 128pp., Black &White, trade paperback., US $12.99; PB ISBN: 9781561639489; SEP201345

 

2024
Created by Ted Rall

Move forward two decades. See the world as the giant media moguls and software companies have become our new big brothers. They want the best for us. They know what’s best for us. And maybe we don’t always know so well.

Ted ‘I-need-more-enemies’ Rall updates 1984 in a scathing look at where we could be headed; and this is all Rall, no holes barred, no prisoners. His best and most chillingly funny work yet!

6×9, 96 pp., B&W, jacketed hardcover: $16.95; HC ISBN 156163279151695; DIAMOND CODE:SEP201344

PREVIEWS

NBM Heads To Brooklyn Book Festival

The Brooklyn Book Festival is one of America’s premier book festivals and the largest free literary event in New York City. Running from September 16-23rd, NBM Graphic Novels can be found at the Marketplace at Booth 327 on Sunday with some of our latest titles.

Cartoonist Ted Rall will be on hand signing copies of his books including the new paperback revised version of The Year of Loving Dangerously, Silk Road To Ruin and To Afghanistan and Back.

For more details, visit BrooklynBookFestival.org