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Manamania -

Last Build Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:38:22 GMT

Copyright: NOINDEX

Last LJ entry

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:38:22 GMT

Since I'm not using LJ anymore and I'm moving on from my Cedarseed identity, this journal will be closed and deleted once I've saved my journal entries. If anyone's still watching this account, I invite you to drop by my new website, You can follow me on the site's blog, on Facebook or Twitter.

It hurts to leave my well-branded name behind, but time for a new era!


Wed, 12 Oct 2011 05:09:27 GMT

I haven't been posting here, but the calligraphy's been going strong. Here's what you missed since my last...

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I Don't Believe It, volume 34527

Tue, 13 Sep 2011 12:58:42 GMT

In "my" Beirut coffeeshop, Younes, I have a fellow regular who's been there at least as long as I have, and shows up with the same morning schedule as me most of the time. The past year, as I discovered a great food place and a superb pastry shop nearby, I started moving between the 3, depending on whether I wanted a meal, hot drinks & a sofa, or cake. It wasn't long before we started bumping into each other in those places as well and it became our joke that there was a "golden triangle" in Hamra where people of good taste were bound to meet.


For my last day in London (I've been here 3 weeks) I went to have breakfast at the Jazz Cafe at Foyles (the most exciting bookshop in the world, for those who don't know it) which is my substitute for Younes when I'm here. Please imagine the double-take and look on my face as she walked in. I felt like the bottom had fallen out of my brains for a moment.

Calligraphy: She

Wed, 03 Aug 2011 19:18:34 GMT

Cross-posting from my blog:Sometime last year I felt inspired to make a composition around the word Hiya هي, She or Her. I had a general idea of what it should look like, but found it very difficult to translate on paper, and as I was getting nowhere I left it aside and the motivation passed. Yesterday, an art gallery contacted me, saying they were having an exhibit on Woman in Art and did I have a painting or photo on that theme to contribute? I said that I had a calligraphic piece in mind, actually, and they were interested. But I had to hand it in framed and all by the end of the week, so I had to create it right now! Which miraculously I did as the design "unblocked" and I spent all afternoon yesterday and all morning today drawing and coloring it.This piece is packed with symbolism, which I explain in detail at the bottom of this post after my work process.   Sketches I made last yearTrying again yesterday, but its complexity required going to the computerI printed out my "sketch" and noted measurements on it to consult while I worked, as there was so much to remember.Completed construction lines. I had to darken the photo a lot, that's my lens cover on the right.Outlines completed in silver! Coloring took so much focus I forgot to photograph the remaining steps.Symbolism in Hiya:My measurements are never arbitrary on these pieces, because I learned with experience that geometry is just numbers made visible on a flat plane, so it's by using numbers that form harmonious relationships that you end up with a harmonious design. Aside from measurements, the base number I choose (how many times the motif is repeated)  is often symbolic. Here 5 was a must as it's the number of the Feminine. Not only is it the base number, and the paper size is 55cm, but the whole composition is built on 3 circles of 40 cm (5x8, the number of completion), 25cm (5x5) and 15cm (5x3, which is also strongly associated with women). Other than circles, which need no comment, shapes used are the vesica piscis and the lunar crescent (though I only noticed that one in retrospect). That the whole thing looks like a flower is no accident either. There's one additional touch already evoked in Shawq, but I'll leave that one to be guessed ;)[...]

New publication: Guide to Cats

Mon, 01 Aug 2011 05:13:05 GMT

I'm excited to release yet another book in my tutorial series. Guide to Cats collects all my cat charts, an exhaustive visual guide to big and small cat species, housecat breeds and the colors and patterns chart. In total, 78 pages, and it's available both as a handy coil-bound workbook, and an ebook.


I was unwilling to make my tutorials available as PDFs for years because it's so easy for someone to resell or redistribute them. I even found some of my books uploaded to download sites, God knows how since they only existed as hard copies. So I'm testing this one a bit, if you buy it do me a favor and don't share it beyond your household... Don't send it to friends who may feel it's ok to share it further, etc. If I don't get screwed over with this one, you may see my other tuts available digitally as well, possibly including a megacompilation. Why this is desirable, other than the practical aspect of it, is that if I make later corrections or small additions, the revised edition can be made available for free to all those who had bought it previously. So help me out with this! And thanks :)

Calligraphy & tuts

Mon, 25 Jul 2011 15:24:03 GMT

I haven't been keeping up with LJ to post my work, which goes on my art blog, so you guys have been missing out, in particular on my recent calligraphy work. Here are my latest, click on each image to read about it.





Oh and I posted the last of my cat guides and a scary comprehensive chart for horse colors and patterns...


Sun, 19 Jun 2011 19:13:16 GMT

I can't believe this happened today. I'm in London again (yes, third time this year, and not the last), got here yesterday night, and my boss from Jordan happens to be here, so I went to meet him for coffee. He was waiting for me at Sloane Square, where I'd never set foot before. As I stepped off the train there, I heard "Joumana?" and looked up to see a friend from my dance class a few years ago, getting on the same train with a suitcase. We had just enough time to kiss our greetings before the train doors closed and she was off. She doesn't actually live in London, she lives in Geneva!! She just came here for the weekend and the margin for our meeting was only a matter of seconds.

Sheesh another one

Tue, 24 May 2011 14:20:24 GMT

Sitting at my coffeeshop right now... A year ago there was a guy here who was shooting 1001 Lebanese portraits and he was always around with a big Nikon asking people if he could take their picture. When he took mine, he asked if I could sketch his portrait. I said sure, when I had my stuff with me, but he was leaving Lebanon 2 days later and so it didn't happen.
Today I came here with a stack of art paper and my sketching paraphernalia to start work on the pile of original drawings I need to do for my Kickstarter backers. Shortly after I got here, I got a facebook message: "would you still do my sketch if I were in Beirut. this is s... the photographer :)"
I said sure, if he can catch me before I travel again. A movement to my right made me look up, and I was staring into a camera lens. "I did catch you!"
"Yes and just when I have everything I need with me!"

One of those really odd things

Tue, 24 May 2011 06:25:22 GMT

A few days ago I was at the post office to pick up a package. It had been ages because I avoid mailing stuff form here as much as I can now. My attention was caught by the woman next to me as she was carrying a package to mail, and the white slip we fill to be notified when our mail arrives. The reason this caught my eye is that my name was on the white slip. Our neighbors exactly across the street have the same family name and so I thought "Aha! It's her." And that was it.
Just now I got an SMS notification that my package had arrived... which would have puzzled me endlessly if I hadn't been there at the right time. Post office still sending me my neighbor's mail, I see!

Armenia redux

Tue, 17 May 2011 04:11:14 GMT

I forgot to mention I was in Armenia again last week. It was for a comic festival, but I had a day of exploring with my new friends.From the Hellenistic site of Garni in Armenia, one can look down into the valley and see the following interesting columnar basalt formations:What I didn't know was that there was a way down into it, and our friends surprised us with it, taking us down worryingly winding paths (10 of us crammed into a 4x4) until we were treated to these amazing sights. The sign said "Symphony of Stones"...By the way, my photography section has finally been revamped and is easier to navigate now I think. I'm uploading prints for all the photos there, and then I can move on to posting entire photo diaries in the travel section.[...]

Only 9 days to go!

Fri, 13 May 2011 04:59:52 GMT

If you haven't seen my kickstarter for Malaak part 4, there's only 9 days to go to pre-order and enjoy special rewards :) Check it out!

And here's a preview of the cover:


Malaak IV

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 03:18:32 GMT

... is done :)

And I'm flying to Dubai today for a quick paternal visit then to Armenia again in one week to present it and be part of a talk about the history of superhero comics :D

Malaak on Kickstarter - help me print it, get great rewards

Mon, 18 Apr 2011 04:10:57 GMT

I'm using Kickstarter to raise the cost of printing this volume of my comic this year. Kickstarter is a pre-order system with a difference: drop by the project page and check out the range of special offers you can get by ordering now rather than wait till it's printed (you also get to see me talk about it). If you're not interested for yourself, please spread the word among comic-loving friends :)

To whet your appetite, below is an art print (silkscreen) that is one of the exclusive rewards:



65 classic cocktails

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 19:15:05 GMT

Remember that cocktails icon set I started in 2007 and was never heard of again? I finally finished it *jig*
Click on the image for more info!



Thu, 24 Mar 2011 13:53:36 GMT

... waiting to be released.


Captured in the souks of Tripoli, early in the morning as they were just beginning to awake.

Syrian horror (skip if squeamish)

Thu, 24 Mar 2011 03:59:24 GMT

Reposting some tweets: These videos may be graphic as they're using anti-tank bullets on the protesters. (I didn't dare look)

@nmoawad Syria: Horror Mounts as 150 Protesters Reportedly Dead in Daraa by @justamira on @globalvoices
@jilliancyork: #Syria: Citizen Videos Show Horror in Daraa · Global Voices
@sherriecoals: view this , they are using anti-tanks bullets against protesters !!
@Bloggerseif #Syria #march15 :( [graphic video]

On France 24 yesterday they said the detained kids had been released but they'd had their fingernails torn off. THEY ARE TORTURING KIDS. The journalist reporting it was livid.

And don't forget Gaza. Livestreaming:


Wed, 23 Mar 2011 04:10:54 GMT

So this animal Assad is finally showing his true colors by massacring protesters all the way into the Omari mosque in which the wounded were seeking refuge. The Umeyyad mosque in Damascus seems to be next – I hope the world is watching, but the information blackout in Syria is second only to the brutality of the regime.
Watch and see what we've known first-hand for decades.

Edit: Keep an eye on this twitter account to get all the news:

I hope the US news are going to start reacting to this, otherwise they'll be in good company: so far hizbollah is petrified too.

How typical!

Thu, 10 Mar 2011 06:47:22 GMT

I love this... Beirut international airport, last week:

The flash mob was organized by Beirut Duty Free's agency, but many of the dancers are just random passengers and staff who joined in.


Wed, 02 Mar 2011 07:42:48 GMT

Since Sunday I've been single-mindedly working on rehauling The necessity to catch up with web 2.0 was becoming increasingly urgent, and when I finally figured out a way to achieve that without ending up with a blog instead of a website, I set to work immediately. I'm finally done with the art section (or at least it's tidy enough that I can leave it to finetune later) and if you're curious you can drop by to take a closer look. I don't recommend venturing into the rest of the site yet, as I'm about to attack the other sections and it's going to be messy for a while.
I bloody have too much stuff.

I dun it again

Thu, 24 Feb 2011 15:01:10 GMT


Please head over to the blog post for the whole thing as well as links to products and the free icon set :D

Tanzania: travel diary

Sat, 19 Feb 2011 12:40:55 GMT

Our trip to Tanzania was wonderful beyond words. We must have been the luckiest visitors ever, as we had good sighting of every single animal on the list and then some we weren't supposed to see, as well as good weather while on safari and rain while transiting only. Rather than attempt to describe how beautiful the wild is in Serengeti and Ngorongoro, I'll let the images speak for themselves. I'll start posting photos once my films return from the lab on Monday, but in the meanwhile here are extracts from my travel diary. You can read the whole diary, page by page, on my travel diaries page (if you can decipher my handwriting -- bad pen made it very hard to write).The region around Arusha is Maasai country, and they are to be seen everywhere in their characteristic bright red or purple shukas, never without a long polished stick. They are the only people allowed to live within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (being what's left of their ancestral land).Our first game drive was in Lake Manyara, where the forest shelters many smaller creatures, from monkeys to antelopes. Below a dik-dik, which is unbelievably small (the size of a poodle), a bushbuck and a waterbuck.Then the forest gives way to the plains around the lake, and we started seeing some big game. There was a classic moment when my dad sneezed at the same moment an elephant let out a trumpeting call...... Everyone was confused!Maasai who can't sustain their traditional way of life often find employment as guards in lodges in the area (but even as far as Zanzibar). It may sound sad, but it really isn't as sad as those villages who have to sell their culture in order to survive, by moving to "cultural villages" where they are on display for tourists.Besides, I can't think of anyone better suited to guard a place from intruders or wild animals.On the way to Serengeti, no more forest, only the flattest endless plain you'll ever see, full of gazelles, zebras and interesting birds like this secretary and kori bustard, the largest flying bird in Africa.Here illustrating the difference in pattern between two subspecies of giraffe...See this tree?We stared and stared for a very long time trying to see what the other jeeps said they could see there. And finally we spotted him (no pun intended):A baby leopard snoozing on a branch, quite safe as it was quite impossible to make out if you didn't know he was there. In the meanwhile his mother was ng a kill in a neighboring tree, an impressive sight even at that distance. Leopards are supposed to be nocturnal and an unlikely sighting. If that's the case, then we were ridiculously lucky, as this was our second sighting... and not the last.More quick captures: guinea fowls, buffalo and bat-eared fox.And then there was "the morning of the cats", where in the space of a couple of hours we had an unbelievable lions sighting (you'll have to wait for the pics), a serval cat hunting for snakes (tiny thing!) and THE leopard, carrying his prey to a spot where he could eat it. We've all seen them on tv, but seeing one a few feet away in his own environment is deeply impressive. I'd never realized how truly stunning their coat is.On the 3rd day we headed back for our last park, Ngorongoro crater, around which the Maasai live.We stayed 2 nights at Rhino Lodge, which is right in the forest that covers the rim of the crater, with various animals grazing the gardens at night. Right around the corner this huge old mama strolling along... (Elephants are matriarchal, the leader of a herd is always an old fe[...]

Back from Tanzania

Sat, 19 Feb 2011 03:45:23 GMT

Loads of photos coming up soon.
My friends have noticed that catastrophes seem to spring up in whatever part of the world I go, so when the ammunition warehouse exploded in Dar es-Salaam, stranding us at Zanzibar airport for half a day, all I could do was a facepalm. I'm never living this one down!

Dragi & Me: The book

Mon, 07 Feb 2011 09:22:40 GMT

(cross-posted from The Wild Garden)I've been thinking and talking about this since our darling Dragi left us, and I have managed it at last. All the Dragi comics have been reworked in clean lineart, and I also collected all of my best Dragi tweets (my followers can tell you how much I tweeted about him!) into a nice, 54-page handmade souvenir book. The book is A5 in size, printed on coated paper and Japanese stitch-bound.This isn't all though: I used this project to experiment with e-book publishing, a process I describe in all it painful details below, and as a result it is also available for reading on e-readers (Kindle, Nook, Sony) and digital tablets (iPad, Android...) By this I'm trying to find out how popular these devices are and what the market is for digital comics, so I'm groping a bit in terms of pricing and delivery for now. I have big plans for world domination future publishing if it turns out to be worth it.How do I get my copy?The handmade book is $12 including shipping anywhere. ($8 if you pick it up directly)The e-book is $3 and will be emailed to you. (I'll appreciate it if you don't share it around!)Please send payment by Paypal toand make sure to specify what reader you'll be using if you order the e-book.**I have the following files: .epub for Nook and iBook, .mobi for Kindle, .lrf for Sony. If you need another kind, contact me, I may be able to convert it for you.About e-publishingThe long ramble below recounts my adventures in trying to breach the e-book market so far – feel free to skip if you're not that kind of geek.It first came to my attention that it was possible for everyone to make e-books on a forum I frequent for graphic novel authors. Niki of In Maps and Legends publishes a digital-only comic and shared with us tutorials and templates to convert our own comics into formats compatible with various e-readers.As described above, I decided to test this with Dragi & Me, which I could prepare quickly in a format that would fit all the major e-readers. The generous margins, simple layout, and grayscale accommodated both for printing/binding and for screens with slight variations.I quickly discovered that "publishing e-books" consisted in 2 steps that are quasi-independent: making the e-book, and getting it into stores. The one is easy as cake, the other is, as a friend put it, a royal pain in the ass.I won't go here into the detail of preparing the e-books (I'll provide links to anyone who wishes for a tutorial). Suffice it to say that if you can create an .epub (done with the free software Sigil), you can read the book on Nook and iBook. You can also convert this .epub into .mobi (using the also free software Calibre) so it can be read on Kindle, and into .lrf so it can be read on Sony readers. A .pdf will of course work everywhere, but for a number of reasons it's not the format of choice so I'm not discussing it here.So basically once you have an .epub and its .mobi and .lrf conversions, you have your book in formats that can be read on all 4 of the best-known e-readers, and many lesser ones.That was easily done, the next step was to try and get it into stores... This is where it gets absurd.The web knows no boundaries, but copyrighting laws have not caught up, and as a result e-bookstores are still shackled by the printed book model, i.e different publishers have rights to a title in different countries. Why this has to be imposed on independent authors I don't know, but here are the walls I ra[...]

Egypt again

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 15:34:48 GMT

I have an apparently very insane twitter friend (same guy who posted that touching blog post about going to pray in church when he couldn't find a mosque) who flew to Cairo 2 days ago and has been tweeting live from the heart of Tahrir since. Things today are just chilling. You can read his feed on


Tue, 01 Feb 2011 07:57:28 GMT

This really is the best thing I've read about Egypt so far.

A Guide: How Not To Say Stupid Stuff About Egypt

That and: