Joe Sacco’s graphic novel Palestine and Footnotes in Gaza provided a unique glimpse into the everyday lives of Palestinians living under military occupation. With West Bank Stories, Project Hope helped to create graphic novels that were produced by Palestinian youth, putting this powerful representational tool of art into their hands.
Building off the success of a first novel project proposed and run by Canadian volunteers the summer of 2009, Project Hope initiated a Graphic Novel program training groups of youth techniques in graphic novel production. The project was designed to train new generations of students who would make their own graphic novels, as well as teach art, design and graphic storytelling to younger students from their own areas. Each collection is the result of their work, but only the beginning of a much longer process of exploration, self-expression and learning.
The students who participated in this project went from being students to being artists and teachers. They created their own spaces in which they could express their ideas, providing them with a platform from which to shout, scream, laugh, cry and sing. In so doing, they could release some of the stress that has weighed on their minds for so long, and express the pain of years of frustrated desires and dashed hopes, which are all too common for youth growing up under occupation. Curfews, housing demolitions, harassment at checkpoints and attacks by settlers — all daily realities faced by Palestinian youth — were transformed into stories of human resilience and strength.
This visual art form provides an ideal medium for students to express themselves without any cultural or linguistic limitations standing in the way of their message. They were trained in the history, methods and techniques of this art form. Each group of university youth trained for each annual edition of the graphic novel was in turn asked to work with kids in their own community, creating a graphic novel. The program ran from 2010 to 2014 with financial support from the Dutch donor Kerk in Actie.
Stories produced by Children
2009 Graphic Novel Project
2011 Graphic Novel Project
2012 Graphic Novel Project
2013 Graphic Novel Project
2014 Graphic Novel Project
Kids' Graphic Novels
More Kids' Graphic Novels