This new graphic novel is an attempt to depict Ezekiel’s world. We meet him at the age of 75, isolated and suffering from chronic arthritis that has left him in need of medical care. The figure of
Ezekiel is an amalgam of the real and imagined traits of my father, Abba Kovner. My father died in 1987, just short of the age of 70.
The book describes events that took place at the time of the First Gulf War (1991). Ezekiel’s past is revealed in dream and nightmare sequences that reflect the real life events experienced by my father and documented in the historical footnotes at the end of the book. The authentic voice of the poet, Abba Kovner, is present in a number of his poems which appear at different junctures of the story. My father was a resistance fighter, a partisan, a poet, and an historian. His many sided personality exerted a strong influence on all who surrounded him.
In this graphic novel I attempt a posthumous dialogue with my father, a dialogue that was regrettably incomplete during our lives. In addition, I have tried to confront some of the issues that continue to occupy me with my visual approach as a painter (landscapes, wildlife, females). I wrote and illustrated this book as a way to continue speaking to my father. Each of us was preoccupied with his own inner world, and the conversation we both wanted failed to take place.
To many people my father appeared as strong, aloof, and inflexible. They pictured him as a kind of modern prophet with a harsh message for the world; a man living outside of normal society, larger than life; a man towards whom people felt respect tinged with fear and, and, at times, even contempt for his perceived arrogance. He stood at the crossroads of Jewish history and he attempted to provide answers to the basic Jewish dilemmas that he knew from
brutal first hand experience. His own traumas informed his vision, but he always tried to see the wide picture of Jewish history and its mission in the world. It was important to me to provide a more complete picture of the man. I knew him as someone full of life, humor, doubts, and love. He lived with contradictions that had no resolution. He was dedicated to the aim of pursuing meaning in life of walking across life’s narrow bridge without fear.
Ezekiel is a complex character, dragging across the stage the baggage of many failures and dreams broken by a harsh reality. His being is torn by personal and national tragedies. The secret of his strength is his determination to engage life fully despite everything. He tried to nurture and protect an optimism expressed in his love for his son, his grandson, and his attraction to beauty in the women who were part of his life. Beauty and pain collaborated in his character to fight any surrender.
A selection of pages from "Ezekiel's World"