Peter Kuper's Sketchbooks

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday July 20, 2017

The 2017 Summer Invitational: Pimp Your Sketchbook, in which artists show their personal work and open a window onto their creative process, continues with Peter Kuper, who lives and works in New York, and practically wrote the book on sketchbooks.


Spread from Amman (with a little bit of Petra on the lower left) 


Thanks to an invitation to teach a comics workshop, I had the opportunity to visit the remarkable country of Jordan. Given the barrage of Islamophobia we’re subjected to by U.S. politicians, this trip was a  welcome breath of truth to counter those exaggerated fears.

What I found was consistently friendly open people who welcomed me at every turn, an environment steeped in history and a cuisine so delicious, that I’m constantly seeking it out now that I’m back in New York City. 

On my walk to the workshop, from my hotel above downtown, I’d stare across the hills of Amman to see the Citadel; Roman ruins dating from the Reign of Marcus Aurelius. A visual reminder of the impermanence of empires.


Spread from Petra

After four days of classes I left the students to complete their assignments and toured the country. First stop was Petra, followed by the desert of Wadi Rum, the Dana Biosphere and a return to Amman via the King's Highway, with Israel and the Dead Sea in sight. Due to a terrorist attack in the middle of Jordan last December, tourism was down and each place I visited was thinly trafficked by other foreigners. I was surprised to hear a number of Jordanians refer to the 'Arab Spring' as the 'Arab Mistake,' claiming it was responsible for the rise in extremist behavior. “What about Bush's invasion of Iraq?” I'd ask. “That too, but the 'Arab Spring' really launched ISIS” was the response.


Many goats in the environs of the Dana Eco-Bioshpere

Yes, the world can be a dangerous place. I know this every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, but to let fear dominate every step outside the familiar, we shut the door on a vast world of possibilities


Wadi Rum desert 


Precariously balanced on a rock bridge in order to sketch Wadi Rum


Peter Kuper's work appears regularly in The New Yorker and Mad where he has written and drawn Spy vs Spy since 1997. His book Ruins won the 2016 Eisner award for best graphic novel and following French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian editions will be translated into Chinese this year. An updated and expanded edition of his book, Diario de Oaxaca, will be published this fall.
Instagram: kuperart
Twitter: @PKuperArt



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