Jun 21, 2011

New page and how I got started with this thing

A few years ago, when I was still a student, I took a course with one of the more distinguished design professors at my art academy. I tried hard but design wasn't one of my strong subjects. It still isn't.

At the end of the semester the professor gave personal evaluations to each of his students. When it was my turn to go in I stepped inside the room with my semesters portfolio and sat down. The professor quickly leafed through my work, a distinct look of non-enthusiasm on his face.

"You know," He asked rhetorically, "What the difference between you and *I can't reveal the name* is?"

The student he mentioned was the class's star pupil

"The difference is that he was exposed to design from a small age and you weren't"

What I understood from this professor, who will remain nameless, is that while I showed some talent, I did not receive enough visual stimulation as a child and as a result wasn't and will never be as good as my classmates who did.

I left that room broken. It's a terrible thing, feeling inferior to others and being told by an authority figure you respect that you are powerless to do anything about it.

During my existential depression faze I thought real hard about how much of a nothing I am. I explored imaginary alternative career paths; from sewage cleaning to grave digging. Obviously, I was too unevolved to be any sort of artist. I even thought of doing the work I feared most - working with my dad in the family bee keeping business. Images of angry bees and my nagging father filled my head. No! I thought. It's better to be a bad artist than doing something else and be miserable.

After the revelation of the fact that I don't want or care to do anything else I started thinking- Alright, I wasn't born in a city and wasn't always surrounded by designed signs and museums... ok. What was I surrounded with? After all, I wasn't walking around with my eyes closed all my life.

Slowly, it dawned on me, that what I was exposed to from a young age was nature. Trees, grass, fields; I was always playing or running through them. And the piece of nature I was most intimately acquainted with was - the honey bee. My grandfather and  my parents ran a bee keeping business. I was too good to want to help out with it and went off to art school.

Slowly the idea began to form. I wanted to do something with bees. After a while, my background in martial arts led me to the current direction.

When I finished my studies, my final project was character and set designs for an animated film about samurai bees. My old professor was there. He liked it but he told me I didn't space the prints on the wall properly. I guess I'm not a designer at heart. But I didn't care anymore. I learned a little something about who I am and what I want to do.

Here are some of the works I presented as part of my final project:

This final project turned out to be just the beginning. I wanted to know the story of these characters so I wrote it and now I'm drawing it.

There's probably some really obvious moral to all of this. So I think there's no need to point it out. I think I'll just continue working on my picture story.

Jun 10, 2011

Samurai bees? What?

Imagine a civilization dominated by altruism. In this society, the individual makes the interests of others his own and essentially cancels himself and his own desires. All that matters in this civilization is the well being of the collective and the one who leads it. Selfishness doesn't exist or is extremely subdued.

The ideal citizen of this civilization has no fear of death. He or she will not hesitate to throw away their lives because they feel dying in the line of duty it is the highest fulfillment of their purpose- to serve.

The literal meaning of the word samurai is: "One who serves in close attendance to the nobility".

What every bee does from the moment it is born until the instant of its death is to serve the hive and the queen.

To serve is the the purpose of both the samurai and the bee.

Off course altruism exists in many other places in nature and in all human societies and eras. It's the special relationship that the samurai had with death that makes them more similar to bees in my opinion. A noble death in feudal japan was a value, something to aspire to. Ritual suicide was a way to redeem lost honor and make up for transgressions. Even the way the samurai committed suicide (seppuku) was similar to the way a bee dies after stinging. Seppuku means "stomach cutting". It's basically self disembowelment. Yes. very gruesome.

When a bee stings a mammal, that is - any creature that has thick elastic skin, Its serrated stinger gets stuck. The bee forcefully tries to extract the stinger after injecting its venom and often tears off part of its abdomen that remains behind, attached to the stinger. The bee essentially commits self disembowelment, much like a samurai.

In the bee world there are some very interesting behaviors that can be seen as expressions of honor towards the shogun of the hive; the queen.

First, a few words about the hierarchy of the hive. There are 3 main bee categories within the common species of honey bee (Apis mellifera):

1. Female worker\soldier - The backbone of the hive. Responsible for all the labor, care of larva and defense duties.

2. Male - The most disposable asset of the hive. Exists only for the sake of breeding with a new queen should one will be born and otherwise does little else to contribute.

3. Queen - Responsible for reproduction of female and male bees. The most guarded asset of every bee family. If a queen dies without being replaced all the bees will disperse and the hive will cease to exist.

In the very rare event that a foreign queen enters a hive other than her own something very interesting happens; the bees will sense that the queen is not their own and is an intruder. They will not sting but surround her in a tight ball and suffocate her to death. It's tempting to think of it as if the bees consider it improper for a regular bee to sting a queen. A dishonorable act.

I've also read that there are cases where bees will push the foreign queen towards their own queen and will not let either of them leave until they fight to the death and only one remain. I'm not entirely sure it's true because I haven't found any other sources to confirm this "royal rumble" observation but it sounds really cool so I thought I might mention it...

For more about the anthropomorphic aspects of bees I recommend the book - "The life of the bee" by Maurice Maeterlinck.

Next time I think I'll write about how I got started with this project and show some of the steps along the way. Here's a snick peek:

See ya next post!

Jun 6, 2011


My name is Ehud. This blog is about a picture story I've been working on for a long long time. I don't like the definitions "Comic book" or "Graphic novel" because my story is not too funny and I'm not sure if it constitutes a novel. It's a story. In pictures. A picture story.

Before I go on you might want to actually read the first pages. Just click on the little thingy on the top left and you'll see it in this cool digital book format I got from http://issuu.com

I guess I have way too much to write about in this first post. It's probably better to space things out into several entries. So... the best way to explain what it is that I'm trying to accomplish is to first talk about the most important thing in the world- ME!

My parents and grandparents were beekeepers. I used to help out with the business and hated it. But I learned a lot about bees. Ever since I can remember I was doing two things: Drawing and hearing lectures about bees and beekeeping. I loved the first and hated the second.

Every time I found myself explaining to someone else about bees I noticed something peculiar; no matter who it was, the listener was almost always fascinated. It seemed a lot of people were really interested in bees.

Years later, I realized the truth. People aren't interested in bees. They are interested in themselves. Bees, bee society and the hive's hierarchy are a metaphor to human society and the human condition. People see themselves in bees and are amazed how something so similar to their way of life can exist in such a tiny, simple creature.

Ok, I think that's pretty good for a first post. Next time I'll explain which human society, in which era, is most similar to bee society in my opinion (although I think it's pretty obvious from the pages I drew...)

Hope you enjoy my picture story. I'll keep uploading new pages as I finish them. Everything I show here is work in progress and I'd appreciate any feedback or advice anyone is willing to give.

So... there. The sunflower clan is online.