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Graphic Lit

from the June 2014 issue

from “Obi’s Nightmare”

The concept for "Obi's Nightmare" began with a question posed between artist Jamón y Queso and two Guinean writers who have chosen to remain anonymous in the interest of their safety. What would be the worst possible fate to befall President Obiang Nguema, the continent's longest-serving head of state? In Equatorial Guinea, where some 70% of the population survives on less than $2 a day, despite its boasting the highest GDP in Africa, the three friends concluded that his ultimate misfortune would be to spend a single day as an ordinary citizen of his own country—which is to say, without access to education, electricity, healthcare, sanitation, free speech, or the estimated $700M+ in oil payments that he holds in American banks.

This scene takes place on the last day of Obiang’s normal life. Little does he know how different things will be when he wakes up tomorrow in Malabo.—David Shook

Click image below to enlarge

© Ramón Esono Ebolé. By arrangement with Phoneme Media and Equatorial Guinea Justice. Translation © 2014 by David Shook. All rights reserved.


Jamón y Queso

Ramón Esono Ebolé, who publishes his comics under the pseudonym Jamón y Queso, was born in Nkoa-Nen Yebekuan, Equatorial Guinea in 1977, just two years before current president Obiang Nguema overthrew his uncle Macías Nguema in a violent coup d'etat. He has exhibited his art around the world, in countries including Brazil, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Paraguay, and the United States. His first book-length comic, Obi's Nightmare, is forthcoming in English from Phoneme Media in partnership with international rights organization Equatorial Guinea Justice. After having lived in Equatorial Guinea for his entire life, Esono Ebolé emigrated to Paraguay in 2011, where he is active as a political cartoonist and commentator in favor of a democratic Equatorial Guinea. His work has recently appeared in the Chimurenga Chronic and molossus

Translated from Spanish by David Shook

David Shook is a poet, translator, and editor whose work has spanned a wide range of languages and regions. As founder of Phoneme, now an imprint of Deep Vellum Publishing, Shook has edited award-winning books translated from twenty-five languages, including the first ever book-length translations from Lingala and Uyghur. Shook was a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow for their translations of São Toméan poet Conceição Lima, a 2019 Lannan Resident, and the 2018–19 Artist in Residence at Kashkul, the center for arts and culture at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. Their most recent translations include Jorge Eduardo Eielson’s Room in Rome and Pablo d’Ors’s The Friend of the Desert. Shook's Spanish-language collection Atlas estelar is forthcoming in 2020.

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