by Mark Campbell
July 22nd, 2022
On the 10th anniversary of the Rojava Revolution, it is today a great honour for us at Medya News to be joined by Janet Biehl joining us from her home in the United States to talk about her extraordinary new book called Their Blood Got Mixed which is a graphic novel detailing and depicting the events and ideas behind the extraordinary revolution that took place in the north and east of Syria.
Janet Biehl, an independent scholar and artist, was a partner of and collaborated with the social theorist Murray Bookchin for the last nineteen years of his life. After his death on the 30th July 2006, Janet wrote his biography, Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin (Oxford University Press, 2015). It was Murray Bookchin’s writings that influenced an ideological transformation of the Kurdish freedom movement away from Marxism and statism and towards grassroots democracy and social ecology. To observe the implementation of his ideas, Janet visited Northeastern Syria several times and chronicled her observations in numerous articles.
Janet has also translated several German-language books about the Kurdish movement into English.
However, Their Blood Got Mixed is Janet’s first graphic novel.
The whole book is full of pages of delicate and detailed cartoon type water-coloured loose sketches and drawings with text that take the reader on a journey to Rojava to intimately feel the revolution in a way that words alone would not be able convey in quite the same way. The beautiful pictures humanise the extraordinary stories that unfold and explain the ideas behind the revolution through the words of the participants themselves who come to life on the pages of this extraordinary graphic novel, through Janet’s wonderful sketches and drawings.
The book in my humble lay person’s opinion, is a masterpiece that will appeal to not only a dedicated and supportive audience but also and perhaps more importantly to a wider audience as it is able to explain and articulate not only the experience of the participants of the revolution and it’s history but also the political ideas behind the revolution through Janets beautifully created water-coloured sketches that make up the whole book. At a guess and I’d be interested to hear from Janet exactly how many but I would think there must be up to around 800 individually sketched images and scenes that bring the whole story of the revolution to life and gives such an intimate insight and accessible educational experience for the reader.
Each drawing a piece of art in its own right but brought together with words to tell the story of the Rojava Revolution is an absolute delight and such an incredible artistic and political achievement.
Janet explained how the idea came about and how she went about writing the book.
She explained in personal tones how she included the ideas of Murray Bookchin in the book and what Murray would think of how his ideas became part of a blueprint for the Rojava Revolution in North and East Syria.
Please listen to the whole interview for this and much more.