Come, children, and mothers of children;
weavers of wonder, wards of warriors.
Hear me now as I recite a story
Of a lifetime faraway.
Listen.

ABOUT THE COMIC

A two-volume graphic novel set in 17th century Istanbul and 18th century England, centering on a carpet merchant, and his relationship with faith, love and home in the aftermath of his death by a vampire.
A historical romance with a modern, satirical take on Gothic fiction and the literary vampire genre. It builds on positive Muslim representation, and is heavily inspired by Ottoman miniatures and the Rococo aesthetic.

VOLUME I:

A Fragment of a Turkish Tale
A story in a lifetime faraway, about the mature romance between Zeynel and fellow carpet merchant Ayşe, starting from his introduction to the world of carpets as a teenager and ending at his unwilling transformation into a vampire (a djinni) in middle-age.

VOLUME II:

A Modern Karagöz and Hacivat
70 years later in England, Zeynel is at the centre of a fad for all things Turkish, grappling with the meaning of home as it is distorted by Orientalism. At the same time, he and his young English friend must deal with the return of Mora Strigoi, the ancient Roman vampire responsible for Zeynel's death, who is apparently seeking forgiveness.

Book 1 - The Carpet Merchant

Ayşe is an Anatolian girl from a tiny village but with big dreams. Unfortunately history and geography are not entirely in her power, so she seeks marriage out of practicality. She meets Zeynel, the son of a highly-esteemed scholar family, who is already accomplished himself. But while she is sure of herself and knows what she wants and how to achieve it, he is insecure and pressured to live up to the expectations and desires of other people. Perhaps there is more to their meeting than just chance.

Book 2 - The Vampire

25 years later, Zeynel is the husband of an amazing and successful businesswoman, and he could see nothing but joy in the vistas of his present and future. One evening while on a business trip he plays the Good Samaritan to a mysterious traveller… which turns out to be a mortal mistake. Forced into an unfortunate circumstance he must learn to reconcile his old identity with his new vampiric curse, and make sacrifices to protect the people he loves, but that also means learning to let go.

Book 3 - Los Bibilicos

70 years have come and gone since Zeynel left home for an endless pilgrimage. By invitation of a young English friend Alfred Grimsley, he moves into a quiet town in Southeast England. Along the way, he muses about his family's history, his love for stories, and Ayşe's legacy, unaware of the danger in pursuit of him.

Book 4 - Durme

Now settled in this strange English land, Zeynel finds himself the centre of the latest fashion for all things Turquerie, which presents interesting challenges as he navigates between nostalgia for himself and fantasy for the Europeans. Meanwhile, the vampire responsible for his death - Mora Strigoi - has come to him seeking his forgiveness. Zeynel and Mora struggle against their differences, as well as both being anachronisms of time and place, and discover that they may not be the only kind of vampire in England after all.

Sample Pages from Chapter 1

Sample Pages from Chapter 2

Inspiration

The Carpet Merchant is in essence a love story - love between a married couple, love with one's family, and love for and from God. It also features positive Muslim representation (a gentle hero, a powerful heroine, and plenty of side characters), and weaves several core Islamic themes - love, compassion, endurance, gentleness and the concept of qadar - not commonly recognised in media, particularly comics.

The story is technically a Gothic romance, but it jabs back at the origins of the literary vampire, which was a consequence of the Romantic Orientalist movement (English poets borrowed Eastern folklore to write fiction that evoked the 'exotic', following the success of the French and English translations of The Arabian Nights), beginning from Southey's Thalaba the Destroyer, Byron's The Giaour, and up to Stoker's Dracula. The vampire in traditional Gothic fiction represented the Other, eventually transforming into the foreign invader during the late Victorian era. But looking deeper, one wonders: who is the real vampire? Is it Dracula, or the Englishmen - who took his name, his history, and turned him into a villain?

Putting that aside, the main point is about the importance of storytelling - in books, folklore, songs, and even carpets. These stories are often made and passed on out of love, much like beloved memories are, and this love is the foundation of a person. Zeynel grows to discover the healing power of storytelling (of love, of love, of love) in the face of grief and loss.

ABOUT THE KICKSTARTER

The comic is currently seeking publication. One of the avenues is self-publishing through Kickstarter or Indiegogo. At the moment, time and logistics are preventing me from pursuing crowdfunding, but since I've already planned it so far ahead, here are the details:

          BOOK SPECS

  • 348 pages + cover + endsheet
  • 7" x 10"
  • Full colour, full bleed
  • Inspired by Ottoman and old school bookbinding

STRETCH GOALS

  1. Original goal: Perfect bound softcover
  2. Gold foil stamping on front cover
  3. Clothbound hardcover, gold foil stamping + debossing on front cover and spine
  4. Bookcasing included

          REWARDS

  • Limited edition Nightingale & Rose enamel pin
    Gold-plated, black, 2.5 ", backing card
  • PDF artbook
    Concept art, story outline, research, process
  • Carpet bookmark
    Specialty bookmark sourced from Oriental Carpet Creations
  • Letterpress postcard
    Printed by The Alphabet Press (Kuala Lumpur)

If you're interested in publishing The Carpet Merchant, email me (or/and my agent, Jen Linnan) to discuss possibilities.

INTERESTED IN FOLLOWING THIS PROJECT?


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