Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of Eleutheromania! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the story’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Anas Abdulhak: Eleutheromania is an abstract comic told through poetry. It tells the story of two entities linked by the burden of letting go of the figurative chains that hold them captive and their struggle to adapt to their newfound freedom.
Eleutheromania was inspired mainly by the turmoil I felt after leaving my country, Syria. Traveling abroad and being away from the war, I didn’t know how to function… I had gotten used to living in Syria for so long that even though I was yearning to be free. I didn’t know how to be free!
BD: What can you tell us about your creative process in bringing this story to life, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
AA: I initially wrote Eleutheromania in 2017. I had this vision of a person shackled to a giant boulder dragging it along. Feeling desperate to be free of that weight. I quickly drafted the idea and I kept returning to it every now and then. Not really knowing how to move the idea forward or in what kind of medium or format. Slowly, the pieces came together as I decided that maybe that vision would be best suited to be a poem. But when I wrote the poem, I felt like the two really complemented each other and that the poem needed that visual aspect to really tell the story. And the idea was born!
I’ve always been a huge comic book fan. Creators like Jeff Lemire, Brian K. Vaughan, Greg Smallwood, Elena Casagrande, and Jonathan Hickman are huge inspirations to me. I could go on listing names forever!
BD: Do you have any plans to expand this story into a series or other short comic releases?
AA: Hmm, well yes and no. I do have a bunch of other one-shots and short comics that are told through poetry, as well. And I have thought about maybe putting all of them together and releasing them as a trade paperback. But I’m still mulling that over because all of these stories are so different and exist in their own worlds. Thematically, I guess they are similar as they all deal with concepts such as liberty, identity, self-worth, and forgiveness. But I’ll have to see how they flow together as one book first!
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Eleutheromania’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
AA: The story behind Eleutheromania may have been deeply personal to me. But I know the feeling it portrays is all too familiar for so many people. Being trapped and fighting hard to reach a goal or a destination. That’s something a lot of readers connected with. And if anything, I hope that they realize they’re not alone in feeling that way. And I wanted Eleutheromania to be very vague so that the reader can easily see themselves reflected in the story and identify with those emotions.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
AA: As I mentioned earlier, I do have a bunch of one-shots and short comics currently in the works. I’ve been working with some exceptional people to bring those poems and stories to life! At the moment, I can’t get very specific. But I will say, I have a few surprises up my sleeve for this year!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Eleutheromania?
AA: Eleutheromania is actually available for free! Anyone interested can read the whole story on my website, anasabdulhak.com, OR if they’d really like to support the project, physical copies are available in limited quantities at CWSbookstore.com.
Thank you so much for the opportunity! I really appreciate the chance to talk more about this project.