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Cover travel costs for independent cartoonist/war correspondent to travel and live with Afghans. He report from Afghanistan and write a book.
Cover travel costs for independent cartoonist/war correspondent to travel and live with Afghans. He report from Afghanistan and write a book.
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211 backers pledged $25,999 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates

Afghanistan in August

Thank you for your generous support of my project! Thanks to you, I'll be heading back to Afghanistan this summer.

My plan is to go in August. This is a daunting prospect. Not only is it the height of the traditional summer fighting season in Afghanistan, the heat can be heart-stopping. Even in November, the mercury can soar over 100 during the day and plunge to 20 at night, depending on where you are. Particularly in the west, near the Iranian border, I expect to see temps over 110 and even over 120.

Because of my personal and professional schedule, however, this is pretty much the only time of the year I can go before winter comes, and mountain passes get snowed over. June and July is cartoon convention season, and I have a political manifesto coming out this fall that Seven Stories Press will want me to promote. So it will probably be from roughly August 5 to September 15.

I'll likely have one, possibly two cartoonist friends in tow. On past trips I have felt there was safety in numbers. Too many, of course, and you're not nimble. But one or two companions can really help. More on that later as things solidify.

Right now I'm researching flights--I'd like to enter via Tajikistan, but travel to Dushanbe is controlled by the state monopoly Tajik Air, which doesn't offer much service. I may stop in Pakistan first, then fly to Kabul, then drive north to Kunduz.

Another task will be to arrange visas. I will request visas from all neighboring countries: Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan. Sometimes, when you need to leave a country, the border is closed. So one needs alternative escape routes.

And of course I'll need supplies. My backpack is the grizzled, duct-taped veteran of many amazing trips to Central Asia and is in danger of falling apart. I need to rent a satellite phone, and will probably have to say adios to this MacPro laptop I'm typing on now (2006 edition) because the Afghan dust kills electronic appliances, and a semi-portable power cell, etc.

I'll try to contact my Tajik fixers as well.

And of course I'll need to try to do as many of my editorial cartoons as possible in advance. Internet access from Afghanistan will be limited to the few big cities through which I pass, and will have narrow bandwidth, plus the oh-so-slow-and-oh-so-expensive 2400 bps satellite phone/laptop gerryrigging setup I'll contend with in the outback.

So basically it's about bureaucracy and supplies for the next few months. As Sherwood Anderson said, life, not death, is the great adventure. But before life can begin, one must complete many forms.

Mission Accomplished!

With a few hours more than a day to go, more than 200 supporters came through with the $25,000 I was trying to raise through Kickstarter.

At this writing, there is $25,845 in funding provided by 210 people. (Kickstarter allows supporters to make pledges over the funding amount; any funds over my initial $25,000 request will be used toward trip expenses that would otherwise have come out of my pocket.) Amazing!

Thank you to everyone who pledged funds toward my upcoming return to Afghanistan. I am in awe of your tremendous generosity and commitment to independent journalism, literally putting your money where my mouth is, at a time of extreme economic pain and when the mainstream media seems to have abandoned the search for truth in favor of access. I promise to work hard to justify your trust and faith in me.

I will be posting updates here and elsewhere to keep you advised about the progress of this project. In the next few months, I will need to obtain visas for Afghanistan and neighboring countries, including Iran, arrange flights and alert fixers, find the perfect hat to keep the desert sun off, and consider the painful prospect of growing the world’s ugliest beard. I’m currently planning for a trip throughout the month of August.

I will file blog entries from Afghanistan, and when I get back I’ll have a book to write. And hopefully I will find out some things worth knowing about a country the United States military has been occupying for nearly a decade—with no end in sight.

Three More Days

So close! I'm seriously on pins and needles about this. It's hard to believe the whole $25K won't come through, but at this point it's a 50-50 guess either way. If you've been sitting on the fence, now would be a good time to clamber down and pony up (sorry for the mixed metaphors).

In other Afghanistan-related news, looks like I'll have at least one more cartoonist as a traveling companion (no, they won't be reporting from there, they're along for the ride).

Heading Toward the Finish

My plan to return to Afghanistan this summer is halfway there--more than 140 backers have put up 50% of the $25,000 I will need (I'm also going to spend about $10,000+ of my own money) to get there and around. War zones are crazy expensive, and this is actually the bargain rate for this sort of journalism, particularly when one isn't backed by a major publication or broadcasting company.

This is the do-or-die phase. I'm halfway there, but there are less than two weeks left. Unless the pace of pledges accelerates, I won't make it. If you have been considering whether or not to participate, please think about it now!

As always, I remain ready, willing and able to answer any and all questions, comments, concerns, etc. about this project.

Farrar, Strauss & Giroux To Pubish the Book

If this project is successful and I therefore make it to Afghanistan this summer--probably August--I have reached an agreement with Hill & Wang, a division of the major publishing house Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, to publish a resulting book in the format of a reporter's notebook/memoir.

In addition, I am working on the possibility of filing long-form reportage pieces from the frontlines for a major US newspaper.

So if this happens, there will definitely be some great coverage.

Right now, I'm on pins and needles. $11,000 is raised, but there are only 20 days left and $14,000 left to go. Crossing fingers...crossing fingers...Thanks to everyone who has pledged money so far, and feel free to contact me for any reason.