"I Want To Dip The Pen"

Mohamad Kraytem, Death Anxiety, 2017.

"Death Anxiety was the first personal thing I did. I think a lot, and I cannot help find myself overthinking. When I cannot control my brain, when I am an insomniac, I do this. I fill one page".

The words are by Mohamad Kraytem, who connects the first and last frame of his comics, proving the loopy insanity of life. Death Anxiety is one of the most silent, weightless of his works. No one is biting on to another on the page. Although that is a fact, which only serves to escalate the existential Angst of the protagonist, floating as he is through his own skull, or in Mohamads own words:

"He is not grounded. He is just discovering he is floating because of his thinking and then he realizes that it is real. It is disturbing and I should just get on with my life, but this one was bothering me and the next day I decided to just draw one page as I see it; death anxiety in a very simple way. I like his nose a lot. Realistic, yet a triangle in the face. I like that he is in his own mind and it is disturbing him. There is nothing in the background. It is beyond his understanding. Where are the people who have already died?"

Mohamad Kraytem, Detail of The Duel 
in the process of being inked in, 2017.
"When I want to draw a story I get these ideas of narration, wanting to jump from one scene to another or this dimension to another, so I always use dreams".

"Usually I begin with sketches and I write at the same time on small pages. I have to do my sketches in parallel with writing. I have to know how it looks".

"Writing is not enough to see if it is a good narration or not. If this panel or the next one is good. Then I start sketching the characters and I start on my page immediately. Sometimes when I don't have an idea of the ending, I just start it and by the time I get to it I will have found it or work my way back to the beginning to change it". 

Mohamad Kraytem, page from Wetmare, 2016.

In a narrative by Mohamad Kraytem, you may get eaten by your own arm. Every form can split open or grow a new form and every form may contain a life of its own. There are no boundaries between humans or animals, nor aliens or beings never before seen - even writing this sentence is a limitation of what may be taking place on his comic pages.

Mohamad Kraytem, detail from Wetmare, 2016.
That takes two things: to drive home the narrative and the drawing skill to do so, keeping every movement interesting of all the unknown limbs in a creature. The Golden Section is at play within every single frame: "I look for my form, for my angle, for my composition, and I look for my volumes. His hand should not be parallel to the frame," as Mohamad points out.

"I love drawing hands. I have reached a level where I can draw them from all angles. If I need a new angle, I simply take a selfie. I learned that from David Lloyd the artist of V for Vendetta. I met him at the Dubai Comic Con. He said that whenever you have problems with hands, you have this one and you have this one" - holding forth both hands.

Mohamad Kraytem, page from Wetmare, 2016.
"I cannot help myself being a perfectionist. Digital is not me. I want to dip the pen. I am a materialist. I want real paper and hold the paper in my hand. The limitation of it. I really like when the brush gets drier and use it to make the texture, tock tock. I love it. I have to work in more details that is how I usually pen it in".

Mohamad Kraytem, Dry Bone Valley,
"My uncle used to give me comics in French and Arabic and sometimes in English. I was reading French Batman. I grew up with superheroes, but I was more inspired by the French ones. The direction was better for me that was how I saw it. I never wanted to draw superhero stuff. I wanted to draw like the Belgians. Inspecteur Bayard (Olivier Schwartz), a Tintin-inspired character. I did not know they were drawn by artists. I was six years old and thought this was definitely done by machines, but then I saw a documentary on TV and I freaked out. I really wanted to learn to draw. This was how it began. It was not a style that says: Oh this is easy to draw. It was drawn with thick beautiful lines and inspired by the ligne claire-movement, like Ives Chaland and Hergé, but it was Inspecteur Bayard that triggered it for me".

I have seen the portfolio of stories by Mohamad Kraytem, each of them constantly transforming within themselves, proving the love of the art form that the mind and the pen in unison can do anything. The head of Moëbius suddenly pops up within a masquerade...

Mohamad Kraytem, The Ghost of Pencils Past, 2017.

The sketches and comics pages shown are courtesy of Mohamad Kraytem and must not be reproduced without his permission.

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