Brigitte Findakly’s childhood was a challenging journey through the cultures of two very different countries where she never felt she truly belonged. This journey is chronicled in the new Drawn & Quarterly graphic novel, Poppies Of Iraq, a collaboration between Findakly and her cartoonist husband, Lewis Trondheim. Co-written by both of them, drawn by Trondheim, and colored by Findakly, Poppies Of Iraq tells a story that is especially relevant in the current global political climate, with religious radicalism on the rise and governments encroaching on civil liberties across the world. Growing up in Mosul before her family moved to Paris to escape Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime, but this change in scenery introduced a new assortment of problems for a young girl unsure of her place in the world.
This exclusive preview details Findakly’s experience at her school in Mosul as a child, a frightening moment during the summer of 1968 in Paris, and her return to Iraq as an adult in 1989. Trondheim’s linework is light on detail, but his storytelling is crystal clear, capture his wife’s emotional relationship to each moment. In the large panel describing how the state of school uniforms determined their economic status, you can’t see which school uniforms are new and which are hand-me-downs, but you can see the children scanning each other to figure it out. What’s important is that feeling of being judged, and the artwork highlights that.
When the story calls for more detail, Trondheim delivers, like the final shot of a table full of the delectable Iraqi cuisine Findakly has been missing out on. Also included in this excerpt are some of the photographs that are sprinkled throughout the book, revealing how these people and locations looked in real life. Readers can learn more about Findakly’s powerful personal story by picking up Poppies Of Iraq, which is on sale today.