After many years (10!) I’m thrilled to say that the Tangles film is now in production. Leah Nelson at Giant Ant will direct, and she and I and Trev Renney co-wrote the script. So many hours and years writing and rewriting, so many index cards. How amazing to be working with Lylas Pictures, Point Grey Pictures and Monarch Media to make this film happen. Most of my work on the project is done now, but I am so excited to watch this animation take shape. Details of the deal on Deadline and more announcements to come…
This week I got my copies of the Korean translation of Tangles. I’d seen a PDF of the cover and I knew it was aesthetically pleasing, but I didn’t expect to start crying when I held the book in my hands. Partly I was touched by how much time and care had been put into the book. But there’s also something very intense about watching someone take Tangles and make it into something new. It’s a certain kind of honouring of the story and of my art.
Like here’s the cover. Look how the designer searched through the English Tangles and picked out little bits of the drawings and put them all together into something new.
[I just realized I need to email the publisher and get the designer’s name so I can credit him/her here!] Designers are Jihye A and Joonoh Jang of Sparksedition. Tangles is published in Korea by Woorinabi Publishing.
That sideways cat is my favourite. It looks so bratty. How did they think to turn it sideways? Awesome.
Then on the inside pages they just kept going…
I am so excited about how they found this tiny flower from one of the panels and made it into this crazy beautiful pattern.
This is where it originally appeared:
These plants on the first inside page are all from different chapters: willow from walking along the river in Fredericton, bird of paradise from my parents’ apartment in Oaxaca, and some other plant behind my mom that I don’t even recognize, really. And look at that tiny deer, for God’s sake!
The experience of looking at characters that I can’t read is very interesting — the writing becomes another element of the artwork for me. (How does this relate to Eisner, McCloud, et al’s discussions of how text and image combine? What happens if you cannot read the text as text but only as pleasing marks?)
There is something so odd about looking at pictures of yourself and your family speaking a language that you don’t speak. This was true of the German and French Tangles but I find it even more strange and thrilling here… My sister and I talk on the phone in Korean. Though oddly my dad’s letter to me is not translated.
Even the cat speaks Korean:
I really want to know how they decided what to translate and what not to translate. Like my dad’s letter above and here, when my sister and I are banished to the treehouse because we can’t stop saying bad words…
In part two, my mother writes in Korean…
My publisher sent this from Le Nouvel Observateur (L’Obs) — I guess it’s more of a mention than a review, but extremely nice and exciting for me! According to Wikipedia, it’s the “most prominent French general information magazine in terms of audience and circulation.”
On adore le témoignage de Sarah Leavitt (…), ce journal magistral intègre au passage l’histoire des liens familiaux, ceux auxquelq on ne pense pas toujours.
There are a few more mentioned on the Steinkis website.
Very excited that Tangles will be published this month in France by Steinkis Editions! It will also be distributed in Quebec by Flammarion.
Steinkis changed the cover design and I like it a lot.
I just got my author copy of the German edition of Tangles in the mail today, and here’s a mediocre iPhone picture! Unlike the Canadian, American and UK editions, this one is hardcover. Surprisingly thrilling to feel it in my hands. And the paper is heavier, too. And — most of the lovely hardcover books I’ve seen from Canadian or American publishers are done in China or another Asian country to save costs. But this was done in Germany. Pretty cool. Also my publisher, Beltz, made a mini-version, called a “leseprobe,” for promo. It is super cute. (And I try not to call it a “lezzy probe.”) It has just two chapters from the book in it. I am really happy to be publishing with Beltz. My editor, Petra Dorn, has been amazing, and the promotions team work crazy hard. And, there have already been some great reviews of the book…
Here are some links along with brief translated excerpts:
My publisher says: “A portrait of Alzheimer that is touching and makes you feel sad: of the slow disappearance of an impressive personality – and about the reactions of the people around her.”
Google translate says: “The book is a love letter that stirs one to tears.”
My publisher says: “The journalist says that your book is very moving, and that it tells of the great love for your mother. With excellence you manage to transfer overwhelming feelings, little misunderstandings and hurts in the family into pictures and words.”
Süddeutsche Zeitung (review not online)
My publisher: “They call the book very impressive and like it very much that it is kind of a diary which catches all the daily things that Alzheimer brings into families.”
Nido (review not online)
My publisher: “They call the book ‘sad, sensitive – and encouraging.’”
And here is an excerpt from my current favourite Google translation of a review:
“Six years takes the big mess up mother can finally run no longer, in a home comes and there died… The reading is therefore not really a fun thing, but this story has something very comforting for all involved. It tells of deep feelings of love and togetherness. And that’s just beautiful.” — “Farewell to Rates” (I know that can’t be a correct translation!) by Ulricke Schimming on the Lettera blog
It was interesting to work on the German translation of Tangles. I had to let go of some of my control issues and trust the translator, since I don’t read German. Most of Tangles is lettered with a font I created from my handwriting — which, incidentally, I don’t think I would do again. Hand lettering from now on! Anyway, I redid the font to include German characters, and relettered some of the handwritten parts, but the designer actually redid some of the handwriting herself or replaced it with a different font, which was a bit painful for me but I realized it was a necessary letting go. Or it felt like it to me, anyway. The Beltz team was really careful and respectful and the book looks awesome. One slightly odd thing — they included a glossary at the end, for terms like “reiki,” “chorizo” and “mezcal.” Do Germans not know these words? And, a little bit disturbing, they included the word “Chanukah” in the glossary. If anyone has insights into this, I’d love to hear them.
I forgot to add this lovely review of Tangles by David Ulin that appeared in the LA Times in the spring:
What she’s getting at is the essence of who we are and how we operate, of what underlies our neurons, what defines identity. “This is a hard thing to say,” her mother says after Leavitt shows her a few pages of this book, at the time a work in progress. “I’m not a real person.”
But what defines reality? That’s the central question, although “Tangles” doesn’t (can’t) provide an answer. And yet, in framing her loss and her uncertainty through the lens of love, Leavitt manages to find a fragile resolution: conditional, moving, rigorous and heartbreaking at once.
The US edition of Tangles came out from Skyhorse Publishing May 1. It’s been a great first couple weeks. I feel very lucky.
Elissa Schappell of Vanity Fair says:
In her graphic memoir, Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me (Skyhorse), Sarah Leavitt tries to hold on to her beloved mother, Midge, and unknot the tensions that arise between friends and family. As she does, day by day Midge’s mind erases more of her past, and the future becomes less certain. Not only a spot-on portrait of the dark comedy and vast sadness that Alzheimer’s contains, the book is a fitting tribute to Leavitt’s mom.
Jane Eisner of the Forward:
I felt that way about the whole memoir; it works. At first, I wasn’t sure whether Leavitt could do justice to the confusing feelings and family dynamics that she aims to portray in “Tangles,” which she calls “a story about Alzheimer’s, my mother and me.” While the genre of graphic novels has grown ever more sophisticated, it’s still a challenge to turn comic book heroes into complicated human beings. But Leavitt is able to make her characters seem real with a few strokes of the pencil and fewer words. Read the full review…
Exciting times! Meanwhile I am finishing a couple of illustration jobs and working on my next book in bits and pieces. Thanks for checking in!
Catching up on Tangles news for February:
Tangles got a coveted Kirkus Starred Review — super exciting! US publication is May 1.
The Guardian published a short, sweet review.
And Maxi, a German magazine, published a three-page feature on Tangles, with a translated excerpt and an interview with me. I am working on getting someone to translate it for me! The article isn’t online, so here are a few photos from the print copy…
Here are some more great UK articles about Tangles…
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s a real-life superheroine! in The Jewish Chronicle — an article by Sarah Lightman about Jewish women cartoonists that includes me and Tangles
Drawing the unsayable in the Irish Independent — about Tangles and Billy, Me & You by Nicola Streeten
A funny way to deal with death in The Independent – a different article about Tangles and Billy, Me & You
And why not add a drawing I did right after we got back from London?
Just a quick round-up of some UK coverage for Tangles…
First there was an excerpt in the Observer Magazine (part of The Guardian). It’s not online but here’s a peek. I got to do a self-portrait for it, too!
There was also a lovely review in the Glasgow Herald, also not online.
And the lovely online mag It’s Nice That featured slides from Tangles and an interview. In their words they were “bowled over” by Tangles.
Watch for more coverage in The Independent and The Jewish Chronicle.
Tomorrow I leave London after a lovely two weeks here. Will be posting some photos and notes from the trip soon. Thanks so much to everyone at Jonathan Cape, Leeds Comics Forum and Newcastle University, along with all the fabulous people I’ve met here (Nicola Streeten, Sarah Lightman, Paul Gravett, Ian Williams, Corinne Pearlman, Francesca Cassavetti, etc etc). England rules.