We sat down with Naif Alkhairallah to get in depth with his debut novel, “Black Bonds.”
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Naif Alkhairallah, and I’ve spent 37 years on planet earth. From a very young age I used to doodle whenever I got the time, pencil and a paper (or any of them). Unfortunately, this hobby started to vanish as drawing creatures was frowned upon in the schooling system. I instead focused on getting a career that is more welcomed and has a clear trajectory, and managed to get my bachelor degree in accounting and started my banking career at the age of 21.
Where do you think your strength lies most: in illustration or storytelling?
I have been getting positive feedback about my story telling skills, but I cannot take all the credit for that (although I would love to). My recent published work is a collaborative effort between Abdulrahman AlTamimi, who is a fantastic script writer, and myself.
Your debut graphic novel grapples with the subject of sihr. What made you chose that as a topic?
I love horror stories, we all grew up listening to stories about that cursed/bewitched cousin of our friends (that no one met). Disclaimer: I used to be that kid who hides behind his mom whenever ‘AlRajul AlHadeedy’ was showing on TV. I always wanted to read stories that are related to our culture, specially horror ones. At the same time, I enjoy stories that have a surprising turn of events. So I decided to write a comic book that combines both.
What pushed you to write it?
Through social media networks I was introduced to the world of MEFCC where I met Khaleeji comic books artists, and that reignited my passion for drawing, and helped me decide to write my own comic book. This meant that I needed to polish my skills, I began teaching myself the correct drawing basis starting from the anatomy of human body reaching to the rules of drawing architectural perspective. I got so obsessed that I built my own comic cave (studio). It was built to serve several purposes: (A) providing the inspiring atmosphere as I am surrounded by my favorite artists and the comic/video games characters that impacted my life and (B) as a proper workstation.
Any advice for aspiring Saudi graphic novelists?
Follow what you love, do not try pleasing others, and don’t forget the basics.
Find “Black Bonds” in Jarir, Virgin Megastore, and through the publisher’s website at mdrek.com.