Inside the Israeli Army in a Time of Terror

Miriam Libicki’s Jobnik! is the best comic book you’ll ever read about war, love and paperwork

Inside the Israeli Army in a Time of Terror Inside the Israeli Army in a Time of Terror

Uncategorized August 6, 2013 0

Miriam Libicki art Inside the Israeli Army in a Time of Terror  Miriam Libicki’s Jobnik! is the best comic book you’ll ever read about... Inside the Israeli Army in a Time of Terror
Miriam Libicki art

Inside the Israeli Army in a Time of Terror 

Miriam Libicki’s Jobnik! is the best comic book you’ll ever read about war, love and paperwork

Jobnik!, the comic book memoir by American-born former Israeli soldier Miriam Libicki, is remarkable in part for what it’s not.

It doesn’t shy away from terrorist attacks and dead bodies, but it’s not war porn.

It’s unflinching in its portrayal of terror’s human toll, but it’s not an anti-Palestinian screed.

It’s a story about war, but its main character is an Israeli Defense Forces secretary who never sees combat — and even describes herself as “unsuited for IDF life.”

In its heart Jobnik!—that’s Israeli slang for a non-combat soldier—is a coming of age story all tangled up in the Al Aqsa uprising — a.k.a., the Second Intifada from 2000 to 2005, in which some 4,000 Israelis and Palestinians died.

Miriam Libicki art

“I originally did my first few Jobnik! short stories as class assignments in art school,” Libicki, who now lives in Vancouver, tells War is Boring. Self-published in single-issue installments since 2003, Jobnik! is now around halfway through its planned run. Libicki is a fixture at comics conventions in the U.S. and Canada with her husband and baby.

In 18 issues either published or planned, Jobnik! follows Libicki through basic training, the absurd daily grind of military life, her own rich sexual self-discovery and, of course, the razor-sharp emotions of living in a besieged country.

Libicki is Proustian in her attention to detail, painstakingly recreating frightened young soldiers, austere desert army bases, cozy Israeli home life and scenes of bloody terror attacks — all in her feather-light pencils.

The work is meticulously researched. “The first step I do in composing an issue is break down the dates it will span,” Libicki says. “Then I refer to the outline I made about five years ago, which has three or four sentences about every issue until the final one.”

“The next step is looking up that date range on Israeli newspaper archives,” she continues. “Then I try to brainstorm any other memories in or around the time frame that would fit. Sometimes friends and family will corroborate stories for me.”

Miriam Libicki art

Libicki’s faith is a major thread. “Growing up [in the U.S.], my family was Modern Orthodox,” Libicki says. “We went to synagogue every week, and I went to a private Jewish school from preschool on. When I moved to Israel, Judaism was the national religion. It became easier to keep Jewish law, and as a consequence I became lazier about it.”

Today she describes her faith as “greatly watered down.” Her politics, however, remain strong and clear. “I am pro-peace. I am pro a Palestinian state via negotiations. I am anti-Netanyahu and settlement expansion.”

But Libicki says she tries not to “preach” in her comics. Besides, that’s not what Jobnik! is about. “I just wanted to present a story and a microcosm that is not seen very often,” she told a journalist. “The Israeli army is very visible worldwide, but you never hear about the soldiers’ lives.”

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