These were first posted on my Facebook page.

This is the process: at the scene, I scribbled notes as fast as could – a sort of visual shorthand consisting of dialogue snippets and rough shapes. I took tons of iphone photos, so I could corroborate my impressions and fill in gaps. I also took short videos of important scenes (like the arrest) in order to capture dialogue accurately. Next time I’ll bring a tape recorder.

After the protest, I tried to draw the story sitting on a curb outside Pertama complex, but found it impossible to shift immediately from observation mode to narrative mode, so I put the whole thing together when I got home. I’m working on my drawing muscle to see if I can close that gap. Between the end of the event, getting home, and finishing the story, I avoided speaking to anyone. Memory has a short half-life. Immediacy is what I’m trying to get onto the page, and I have to do it fast, even if the impulse is to slow down and process what happened.

I’m inspired by the illustrated journalism (sometimes called graphics, comics or visual journalism) of Susie Cagle, Molly Crabapple, Quinn Norton, and stories published by Symbolia, The Nib and Cartoon Movement. Also see artists who sketched the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong, and the wonderful graphic novels published by Sarai in India. In Malaysia, see Adventures of a KL-ite in Afghanistan by Zan Azlee and Arif Rafhan Othan, and Mimi Mahsud’s Kuala Terengganu in 7 Days.

You can read my story Currents: Water Power in the Interiors of Sabah, which is the first in a series of stories about water issues in Malaysia.

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