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An ambitious teenage girl of the ancient past rallies against the closed-minded world she must abide by--but at a great cost.
An ambitious teenage girl of the ancient past rallies against the closed-minded world she must abide by--but at a great cost.
199 backers pledged $6,848 to help bring this project to life.

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A Voyage to Panjikant: A graphic novel about the Silk Road

$6,848

199

STRETCH GOALS:

  • ***$5,530 STRETCH GOAL REACHED! All backers receive hardcover books! Thank you, everyone!
  • ***$6,000 STRETCH GOAL REACHED! All books will have foil-stamped covers!
  • ***$7,000 STRETCH GOAL: 20 BONUS PAGES OF BEHIND-THE-SCENES CONTENT!

If we hit $7k, all books will include 20 bonus pages of sketches, photos, and concepts showing the process behind creating A Voyage to Panjikant. If you like the material in my process blog, this is the stretch goal for you!

This will beef the final book up to 210 pages!

A Voyage to Panjikant is a work of historical fiction set in the 7th century and follows the story of sixteen-year-old Upach, a headstrong and spunky teenage girl whose greatest desire is to follow in her father Shafnoshak's footsteps and travel the Silk Road in order to become a successful merchant. The problem, however, is that women were rarely afforded the freedom to leave their hometowns.

Upach’s younger brother, Vandak, is Shafnoshak’s apprentice and is slated to eventually take over the family business. Vandak is well-meaning, but not taking to the apprenticeship as well as his father would hope. In a desperate attempt to assist Vandak in his studies, Shafnoshak reluctantly agrees to take Upach with them on their next caravan run to China in order for Vandak to have a study partner.

This unusual opportunity gives Upach a taste of the freedom and knowledge she craves. She is allowed to travel far beyond her home’s walls, learn tremendously about people and cultures outside of her own, and even learns how to read (in secret, with the help of Vandak). Upach’s freedoms are only a taste, however, as she still contends with the disapproving eyes of society at large and the danger of ruining her father’s livelihood if she were to step too far “out of line.”

When Shafnoshak’s caravan is attacked by bandits, leaving Upach as one of the only escapees of the siege, her life changes drastically.

This comic is intended for young adults and up.

Before even putting pencil to paper (or, I guess, stylus to drawing tablet), I researched the Silk Road and the Sogdians for two years. It has been important to me throughout the process to make the setting as accurate as possible. My hope is for readers to be able to hang their hat on the historical accuracy of what’s depicted in the comic. You can see some of my research on my Panjikant blog.

That said--and, unlike reading a history book--I also wanted to create a story that resonates with readers now. The setting is historical, but it struck me how some of the the challenges people faced during the height of the Silk Road are similar to the challenges we face today. It felt perfect to use the Silk Road as a mirror.

Please help me release the entirety of A Voyage to Panjikant in one, 190-page volume. The book will be hardcover, full color, and 6" x 9".

See a 20-page preview of A Voyage to Panjikant here!

It’s no secret that my choice of subject is unusual in the comics sphere. 

Your contribution to this project will not only assure that this comic is published, it will send a message to publishers that a market for more diverse and more unusual work exists.

This is a comic with feminist underpinnings; it's about living one's life against social expectations.

I believe deeply that comics really can be anything, that they should be anything. I want to further break ground in the industry and create a zone where others feel safe enough to draw the work they feel the most passionate about, regardless of race or subject.

Your contribution would be supporting a book by a multicultural author writing about a nonwhite setting. In a field that is statistically 79% white, the need for support is still very evident.

This is also my first Kickstarter and I believe in this project enough to cash in all my chips on it.

You might be thinking, “why even bother making this thing in full color when it drives the price up so much?”

Here’s why: When I first started drawing preliminary work for the project, I took a look at a lot of artwork from the time period. 

Bear with me, mini history lesson here, but check out some of this stuff:

Tang Dynasty pottery of a rather fantastic military man, a pillow (yes... a pillow), and one of the grottoes of the somewhat contemporary Dunhuang Caves.
Tang Dynasty pottery of a rather fantastic military man, a pillow (yes... a pillow), and one of the grottoes of the somewhat contemporary Dunhuang Caves.
Sogdian murals that are deteriorated because they're old, but there's a fantastic snake monster attacking a horsebacked archer at the top and a couple of gnarly-faced archers at the bottom. Notice how freaking amazing that blue background is.
Sogdian murals that are deteriorated because they're old, but there's a fantastic snake monster attacking a horsebacked archer at the top and a couple of gnarly-faced archers at the bottom. Notice how freaking amazing that blue background is.

Notice how crazy colorful everything is? I feel like a lot of times, when people think of the past, they think faded, old, and sort of moldy. Really, things were the opposite, especially in Central and East Asia. They loved their colors. I didn’t feel like I’d be doing the time period justice unless the pages were in full color and full of patterns.

The colors, by the way, are watercolors. The runniness of watercoloring the comic by hand is important to the form, evoking the look of glazed Tang pottery (see above!).

 Here's a breakdown of what you get for every reward tier!

  • As a thank you, you will receive a postcard in the mail with a handwritten note. You will also be in the know with regular updates and extra encouragement to visit my blog that will highlight my work process!
  •  You will receive the Cardamom reward tier along with a region-free, PDF version of the book in its entirety!
  •  You will receive all previous reward tiers along with a printed, physical copy of the book, optionally signed by Marguerite, and a set of five 4” x 6” postcards of A Voyage to Panjikant art created exclusively for the Kickstarter!
  • You will receive all previous reward tiers and a copy of A Crash Course On the Sogdians. This 16-page book is packed full of information about the Sogdians and was created as a primer for those wondering what the Sogdians were all about. Unlike my previous iterations of the book, this version will be professionally printed.
Cover of A Crash Course on the Sogdians
Cover of A Crash Course on the Sogdians
Sample pages from A Crash Course on the Sogdians
Sample pages from A Crash Course on the Sogdians
  • You will receive all previous reward tiers and Marguerite will draw a black-and-white sketch on a bookplate to use in your copy of A Voyage to Panjikant--or anywhere!
  • You will receive all previous reward tiers and one handmade silk scarf (limit 6) OR a set of two handmade 18" x 18" handkerchiefs. The patterns on the scarves are original designs inspired by Sogdian and Tang Dynasty motifs. Marguerite designs and creates the patterns which are digitally printed onto the fabric--the patterns on the handkerchiefs have not been used anywhere except in this Kickstarter campaign!
Fabric used for scarves
Fabric used for scarves
Fabrics used for handkerchiefs
Fabrics used for handkerchiefs
  • You will receive all previous reward tiers (- Hua Jiao) and one A Voyage to Panjikant black-and-white print that is hand-watercolored by Marguerite. Each print will be colored quite differently, will be hand-numbered, and will be a unique piece!
  •  You will receive all previous reward tiers (- Hua Jiao) and a small (8.5” x 11”) original color drawing of people of the Silk Road!
  • You will receive all previous reward tiers (- Hua Jiao and Jaggery), and a large (11” x 17”) color drawing of you (or anyone of your choosing) as an explorer of the Silk Road! Drawing materials and ideas for these pieces will be discussed with backers. There are only three slots for this tier!
  • The Hookah Girl, vol. 1: My previous comic--An autobiography about Palestinian Americans, compiled of short stories. 9” x 9”, black and white interior, 38 pages
  • The Hookah Girl, vol. 2: The second volume of my autobiography about Palestinian Americans. 9” x 9”, black and white interior, 34 pages

Minimum pledge for add-ons: Tamarind ($20) level and up!

Some sample pages from The Hookah Girl:

Praise for The Hookah Girl: Dabaie has developed a distinctive voice as well as a versatile art style that’s appropriate for any kind of story she wants to tell. The mix between nuanced and forceful storytelling choices serves well in dealing with a topic that’s not exactly known for bringing out restraint in those that have a stake in telling its stories.

-Rob Clough, The Comics Journal

Even with political overtones, Dabaie’s work is loose and funny. And with a range that veers from cartoony to near-photographic, this girl can draw!

-Rod Lott, BookGasm

ADD-ON INSTRUCTIONS: To include a Hookah Girl add-on to your pledge, follow these steps:

1. Press the "Manage your Pledge" button above.

2. Back this project AT LEAST to the Tamarind ($20) level.

3. Increase your pledge in the "Pledge Amount" box by $7 or $14 ($8 or $16 for orders outside of the US), depending on if you'd like Volume 1, Volume 2, or both volumes of The Hookah Girl.

4. After the end of the Kickstarter campaign, you will receive a survey that will ask which book(s) you'd like.

Riding the range ssssssssomewhere.
Riding the range ssssssssomewhere.

Marguerite is an illustrator and cartoonist based in Brooklyn, NY. She is the author of the comic The Hookah Girl and Other True Stories, an autobiography about Palestinian Americans. This comic was critically acclaimed but--as you might guess--a difficult pitch for publishers.

Praise for A Voyage to Panjikant: It's always amazing to me when I hear about how a creator has spent years of research on a project, but I don't think I've ever had one of those turn out to be anything other than amazing when I sat down to read it. Passion for a subjects tends to lead to quality, and this first issue of writer-artist Marguerite Dabaie is no exception.

-Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter

If Brooklyn-based artist Marguerite Dabaie ever wanted to have a career making arcane world customs palatable to teens, she could.

-The Epoch Times

What is more amazing is that she is probably one of the most knowledgeable people I know of when it comes to Medieval Central Asia and this quality permeates the entire work in subtle ways, giving it a credible technical depth and a culturally cogent identity while still being accessible to a modern (and uninformed) audience. For enthusiasts and historians, these subtle historical indications are deeply satisfying and gives the impression that the author is "aware".

-Amir Yahyavi, founder of Iran History Forum

Risks and challenges

I am experienced in creating and publishing my own comics from scratch--writing, drawing, inking, coloring, editing, finishing, and printing. Please see The Hookah Girl for an example of a comic that is fully self-created.

This comic is 100% scripted and a good number of pages are inked. There is still work to do for sure (especially since after the comics are inked, I still need to color them). I’m reflecting the time needed to finish and print the comic as accurately as possible in the delivery time given.

I will, of course, keep backers up-to-date with any unforeseen challenges (as well as keep backers abreast of what’s going on) in Kickstarter updates as well as in the project blog.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $3 or more About $3

    CARDAMOM: You will receive a postcard with a handwritten note. You will also be in the know with regular updates on the project and will be invited to check out my process blog!

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    CORIANDER: You will receive the Cardamom reward tier along with a region-free, PDF version of the book in its entirety!

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    33 backers
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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    TAMARIND: You will receive all previous reward tiers along with a physical copy of the book, optionally signed by Marguerite, and a set of five 4” x 6” postcards!

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    CAYENNE: You will receive all previous reward tiers and a copy of A Crash Course On the Sogdians!

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    KALPASI: You will receive all previous reward tiers and Marguerite will draw a black-and-white sketch on a bookplate!

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    HUA JIAO: You will receive all previous reward tiers and one of six handmade silk scarves!

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    CHAROLI: You will receive all previous reward tiers (-Hua Jiao) and a set of two 18” x 18” handmade organic cotton handkerchiefs!

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    STAR ANISE: You will receive all previous reward tiers (-Hua Jiao) and one black-and-white print hand-watercolored by Marguerite!

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    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    JAGGERY: You will receive all previous reward tiers (- Hua Jiao) and a small (8.5” x 11”) original color drawing of people of the Silk Road!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    SAFFRON: You will receive all previous reward tiers (- Hua Jiao and Jaggery), and a large (11” x 17”) color drawing of you (or anyone of your choosing) as an explorer of the Silk Road!

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Funding period

- (30 days)