Harvest: The Collection by Asia Alfasi
What’s it all about?
A collection of three short strips, which Asia has released to plug the gap while she works on her long awaited graphic novel for Bloomsbury.
Beginnings is her Manga-Jiman award winning strip about her childhood and the influence manga has had on her life.
A Drought of Another Sort is a strip which was produced for the Creativity and Economic Development Exhibition. A mainly wordless strip about the effect a child and an inkpot have on parched earth.
The Non-Savvy; Non Commuter was a Platform-for-art piece commemorating a hundred years of the Piccadilly Line. An autobiographical strip about Asia’s experiences with the London Underground, and the reactions of commuters to a Muslim woman.
What do I like about it?
All the strips in the collection can be read on Asia’s website, but the lovely thing about this mini-comic is the handmade feel. The thick texture of the main pages, the delightful semi-translucent orange endpapers and the whole thing being bound with string makes it a more fulfilling sensory experience then your average comic.
Two of the stories provide an interesting and illuminating insight into Asia’s life as a Muslim Libyan Arab British woman. Her personality shines through the strips, and we see some of the ways that personality has been shaped.
Asia shares how she has sought to overcome prejudice via many routes, including manga and sweets!
I prefer her autobiographical strips to A Drought of Another Sort, as I didn’t really understand that strip. However, it is still a beautiful little piece, which conveys joy and playfulness. and she does ask at the end of the strip “What is YOUR interpretation”, so perhaps I wasn’t meant to understand it so much as interpret it?
Asia’s style is most definitely manga and she uses its grammar to her advantage. Movement lines accentuate the flowing feel of the clothes, and the interesting panel layouts give the strips a variety of pacing. Inset panels focusing on facial expressions, or significant background details, pull you into an intimate relationship with the unfolding events.
Use of grey tones or colour shading, and traditional manga textures gives the artwork extra depth, without the need for exceptionally detailed backgrounds.
Why might Girly Comic readers like it?
We get a glimpse into the life and work of a complex, modern woman. If you liked Persepolis, then you should certainly check out Asia’s work, to get another perspective on the world of a Muslim woman.