Maya Zankoul once again brilliantly captures the idiosyncrasies of life in Lebanon in her latest illustrated publication, Amalgam Volume 2.
Building upon the success of her blog and first book, Amalgam, the 23-year-old graphic designer has put together an even more impressive collection of cartoons. Volume 2 contains humorous depictions of Lebanon’s religious diversity, harrowing roads and incessant traffic, as well as detailing awkward social situations.
Tech savvy and witty, Zankoul’s blog draws an average of 30,000 readers a month, while her first book sold 1,000 copies. The self-published author hopes to improve on those numbers with her second attempt.
Released only a year after its predecessor, Volume 2 reveals great strides in terms of organization and overall comprehensiveness. “The second book is a lot more mature than the first one,” Zankoul said. “Because Amalgam was my first book and I had never been through the process, I had to focus more on the publishing aspects of it.”
With first-time jitters and glitches behind her, she was able to take Amalgam Volume 2 to new heights. “With this one, I was able to focus more on the content,” she said. “The whole structure is different; it’s more advanced.”
Zankoul added a table of contents, page numbers and a glossary of Lebanese words, which she did not include in her first book. While they may seem like small changes, their combined effect makes Volume 2 much more accessible to her ever-growing fan base. “I worked on the interaction between the reader and the book,” she said. “I wanted to give a more full experience.”
She also added new content, which did not appear on her blog, so even her most avid followers would find something new.
“Maya is a real artist with a real talent, and that’s what makes her work so impressive and so unique,” said musician and fellow blogger Toni Yammine. “You can recognize it even if we remove the signature.”
Zankoul’s hard work has definitely paid off. The stories that comprise Volume 2 flow better, and the transitions between them are less abrupt. Her drawings have grown more vibrant and her writing and critiques of Lebanese society sharper.
While Zankoul continues to be the protagonist in Volume 2, she has expanded her scope beyond daily adventures to general societal issues. “The pages reflect our daily lives in Lebanon in a very critical, yet cheerful way,” Yammine added.
In one story called “Internet Disorders,” she depicts the quintessentially Lebanese frustrations with the outrageously slow internet here. Her sketches show her getting increasingly angry as she waits ad nauseam for a video to load. Zankoul lets the reader know that “Lebanon is the 5th slowest country in Internet uploads in the world.”
Whether you’ve spent your entire life here or have just visited for a day, there’s a treasure to be found in Amalgam Volume 2.
Amalgam Volume 2 was released August 4 and is available at Virgin Megastore, Librairie Antoine and Malik’s Bookshop. For more information, click here.