August 15, 2010
August 15, 2010
from Mazar-i-Sharif, the fourth largest city in Afghanistan, the gateway to
Uzbekistan, and about the hottest and dustiest place on Earth. Don’t believe
the Internet: It says it’s 81 here. More like 111.
was a brutal drive from Taloqan, where we spent two nights looking for my 2001
fixer Jovid. (Follow my daily cartoon blog to find out whether or not we were
successful: rall.com/rallblog). It was much, much worse in 2001, before
road-paving, though. Yes, most major roads in Kunduz and Takhar provinces are
now paved. This might have made a favorable impression on Afghans prior to
2003, but now it appears to be too late. Everyone knows the Taliban will soon
be back in charge.
are still in burqas, same as it ever was. Business is booming, but poverty
remains widespread. And American troops are still acting like assholes: buzzing
through town at high speeds, terrorizing the Afghans they’re supposedly there
* * *
I sit behind a drawing table all day and I’m eager to go
to place where people don’t live as privileged a life as I do. Life is tough
and Afghanistan. I want to see how the people there live and cope and what they
think of the conflict. There’s no way to avoid being a tourist. Ultimately, I
get to come back to a world with air conditioning, hot showers and reality TV.
I’m hoping that I can do comics that make the trip worth it and illuminate this
conflict in some way for Americans.
Ted’s cartoons were always a big inspiration to me and we
have become good friends since he edited my comics at United Media. With this
upcoming trip and a graphic novel we are working on together, we end up talking
quite a bit. I feel like he’s someone I can get along with for a month in the
most uncomfortable place on Earth. Steven I don’t know personally but I have
always liked his work. BOASAS was one of the must-read webcomics. I’ve been
talking to him as the trip approaches. I’m looking forward to loving and hating
them both by the time the trip is over.
I’m looking forward to getting WAY out of my comfort zone — out of Portland, out of America — and seeing how
millions of people who happened to be born in Afghanistan have to live every
* * *
I’m going for the experience and to learn about the culture
of Afghanistan. I would like to find out what the Afghan people think about US
involvement in their country and how it affects their lives.
I have nothing but respect for Ted both personally and
professionally. We first met when he included me in his comic annual Cartoonists
With Attitude and we also worked together while he was the acquisitions
editor at United Media. Since then we’ve become friends and I’m honored that he
would invite me to join him on this adventure.
I don’t personally know Matt Bors, but we have have talked
on the phone and had an awkward google video chat after I joined “Team
Afghanistan”. Obviously, Matt is an amazing editorial cartoonist and
illustrator. I look forward to getting to know Matt on this trip. Provided we make
it back alive, I’m sure we’ll be life-long friends… or at least frenemies. 😉
I’m nervous. I know this is a very serious undertaking and
I’m preparing for most contingencies. I’m also excited that I will get to visit
an extremely remote part of the world that most people will never get to
experience. It makes me feel alive and more vital than I normally do sitting in
front of a computer all day.
I don’t have any specific plans, but I will be taking a lot of pictures, videos and audio recordings. I
doubt I will produce
a commercial project, but I should have plenty of memories to share with my friends and family.
I’m really looking forward to the trip and hope that I can contribute to the group while we’re on the road.