Life & Culture

Welcome to this Israeli artist’s mind-bending graphic world

Israeli graphic artist Nir Levie is looking to the future in his new novel


"I imagine a future where AI guides your choices and in fact navigates your choices, leaving you as a spectator in your own story. I asked myself questions about consciousness, society’s role in such a future, and architectural changes that might appear in such a society.”

Israeli comics writer Nir Levie is describing his latest graphic novel. But that’s not all. “I utilised a dream I had about an old lady living in a tree to tie all these ideas together into a story,” he explains.

The result is called Bioripple, about a law enforcement teacher called Emily in a world where the policing is done by robots and it is possible to enter other people’s consciousness. It is published by influential American comics company Heavy Metal, and distributed by Simon & Schuster. Levie, 42 sent Heavy Metal the pitch unsolicited after hearing CEO Matt Medney speak in a podcast. “Luckily he liked it and we scheduled a video chat. I developed my style with the influence of some of Heavy Metal’s most iconic artists so it’s only natural that it would be a good fit.”

Levie draws together influences from a number of disparate places for his work from,” the worlds of comics and beyond.

“Moebius is one of my main visual influences. I also draw inspiration from early masters such as Goya, whose works read like comics to me, Michaelangelo (for the dynamic interpretation of the human body), Lucian Freud, Egon Schiele and more. I’m also drawn to the art nouveau movement and especially to E.M. Lilien who was an illustrator who used Jewish themes in his drawings,” he reveals.

Israel does have quite a thriving comics community but Levie isn’t really part of it, he feels.
“I’m a bit of an outsider in the comic community here because I studied architecture and not illustration. But I usually meet other creators at conventions. There are some successful Israeli comic artists like Rutu Modan and Asaf Hanuka, and some of the newer generation include Keren Katz and Erez Zadok.”

He also sees the disadvantages of publishing purely in Israel as a comic creator as well: “Unfortunately in order to be successful in comics in Israel you must rely on the American or European markets because the market here is too small. That’s why you won’t see all these comics published in Hebrew.”

Jews played a major part in the creation of what is now the comics industry and, as a Jewish creator himself, Levie sees their influence in a specific manner:
“I see Judaism in a very secular manner. Every religion believes it is the one which holds the ultimate truth. I don’t think there’s anything necessarily special about any one of them in that respect. It is not the first monotheistic religion. I don’t think that monotheism is better in any way than other religions. That said, I think that there are some interesting stories written by many different people in the Bible and accompanying works.”

Bioripple is published by Heavy Metal

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