Safdar Ahmed’s extraordinary debut, Still Alive, is a deeply personal and critical account of the artist’s work within Australia’s immigration detention system and his encounters with the wrongfully imprisoned. This bold and ambitious graphic novel is an engrossing read from panel to panel, with searing and unforgettable images rendered in the author’s distinctive visual style. The writing and reflections are illuminating and engaging, and indicative of his deep commitment to justice.
Still Alive demonstrates how comics can be a sophisticated medium for narrative, self-reflexivity and reportage. The book is profoundly ethical in the way it centres the testimonies of people stripped of their humanity by the state. Alongside retellings of their complex histories, the author directly includes artistic artefacts created by a vulnerable population. This book rigorously examines the great lie which continues to scaffold Australia’s multiculturalism: that asylum seekers and refugees need to be made an example of.
This year’s shortlist is a thrilling showcase of the depth of excellence of contemporary Australian literature. Ranging in form, these literary works provide considered and vociferous commentary about the challenges we must urgently address and reflect on as a multicultural nation. The judging panel is delighted to award the prize to Still Alive for its vision, ambition and achievement. Ahmed’s work stands out as an example of brilliant storytelling created with and through community, a labour of generosity, and love. It is an unflinching critique of policy and discourse that demonstrates the power of art.
We are thrilled to share the news that Still Alive has been SHORTLISTED for the Eve Pownall Award by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. To our knowledge this is the first time that a graphic novel for older readers has been shortlisted in this category.
We are grateful for the ongoing support and recognition for this incredible book, which was created collaboratively with refugees who have experienced Australia’s immigration detention systems.
SAFDAR AHMED IS STILL ALIVE – ABC COMPASS
This fantastic episode of the ABC’s Compass program is dedicated to Safdar’s work with Refugee Art Project, music, and of course his graphic novel Still Alive.
We’re very excited to announce that the wonderful French publishing house, Cambourakis, will be publishing Still Alive in April 2022. Huge thanks to Nicolas Grivel Agency for making this happen.
FANTAGRAPHICS TO PUBLISH STILL ALIVE !
We are thrilled to announce that Still Alive by Safdar Ahmed will be published by Fantagraphics in their Underground imprint in late 2022.
Fantagraphics have been waving the flag for ‘serious comics’ for half a century. The title of the history of their first forty years, Comics As Art: We Told You So, provides a seven-word meme-grab of their mission. In terms of English-language comics publishers driving the medium and championing a range of voices and subject matters, Fantagraphics has had the greatest impact on broadening the idea of what is considered ‘comics’ in the 21st century. Twelve Panels Press is honoured to be associated with such a trailblazing, fearless publisher and this is a massive boost to our own project: working with comic-book makers to edit, design and publish graphic novels, and delivering their books to literate and diverse audiences.
STILL ALIVE LAUNCHED!
While we await the easing of restrictions so we can plan future events, have a look at these videos of Safdar’s reading and the fabulous Q&A with Maria Tumarkinfrom our Melbourne launch in May. You can also listen to this May 27 interview by Richard Watts on his radio show ‘Smart Arts’ on RRR (listen from the 1.04 to 1.22 marks – a really good 18 minute interview, highly recommended)
REVIEWS AND MEDIA
‘An arrestingly powerful use of the graphic novel … Sensitive, heart-breaking, stippled with dark humour, it’s hard to imagine a more potent indictment of Australia’s immigration detention, nor a clearer call to change it.’– Cameron Woodhead, the Age and Sydney Morning Herald
‘I want you to know how profound an experience this graphic novel offers its readers. Read it, feel it as deeply as the content demands – and then share it with anyone who still needs convincing that immigration detention must end.’ Ele Jenkins, Readings Carlton
‘Arresting, forensically detailed and meticulously researched … Buy it for your libraries. Read it and scrutinise your politicians: demand more of them! Changing the world begins with us and the systems we support or reject.’ Katherine England, Magpies Magazine
‘I think if there is a line running through all of my stuff it would be the idea of art as a type of introspective self-exploration, but mobilised in a strategic way to hopefully address some aspect of the human condition or a pressing moral or social concern. When it comes to zine-making and metal, both have that capability. I’m inspired by the DIY approach—the sense that we make our own culture—which is ingrained in zines and underground metal music. For me, both belong in a political context that is pluralistic and inherently anti-authoritarian, and are well tailored to expressing the idiosyncratic quirks of a personal or subjective voice.’ Safdar Ahmed