British publisher Soaring Penguin Press is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for the publication of Urban Tails by Ilana Zeffren, autobiographical comics offering a charming, insightful look at LGBT+ life in Tel Aviv.
Beginning in 2006, Ilana Zeffren has chronicled her life as a weekly newspaper comic strip. Urban Tails brings these strips together in English for the first time, presenting a 200+ page collection which is down to earth, honest, and provides a gentle look into the lives of Ilana, her girlfriend, and their two cats.
Addressing subjects as diverse as mental health and the proliferation of crocs (shoes), Zeffren brings a fresh perspective and humanity to her comics. The cats, Spaghetti and Rafi, serve as a Greek Chorus, providing a running commentary even as war zones and life-changing worries take centre stage.
“My hopes for this collection in English is to introduce my work to a vast and diverse audience,” says Zeffren, “and to give a taste of daily life in Tel Aviv. I think cat lovers, comics readers, LGBTQ people, Gender studies academics and many more can find themselves in it.”
“As a company always looking for exciting, unique projects, from alternative voices, Urban Tails was a perfect fit for Soaring Penguin,” notes Soaring Penguin co-publisher John Anderson.
“Urban Tails offers a glimpse of life in another country and another culture. But what I really like about the work is that it’s gently subversive. It has a family dynamic that just happens to be about two lesbians. And their cats. It doesn’t bring it up as a thing, it’s simply part of the fabric of the cloth.”
The Kickstarter aims to raise £3000 to publish the collection. This money will go toward back costs and is an important part of Soaring Penguin’s plans to increase their creator wages.
Here’s just a few of the strips created by Zeffren, posted to her blog in recent years…
“Urban Tails delivers brilliant, self-deprecating humour and wisdom from Israel’s answer to Alison Bechdel.” enthuses author and lecturer Ariel Kahn.
“Ilana Zeffren gives us an insider’s perspective tolife as a lesbian cartoonist in Tel Aviv, using her deft visuals to invite us in to a world where passion, politics and the perils of domesticity are seamlessly interwoven. Covering fifteen years of work, this visual feast brings to life the story of a country and a culture through the voices of Zeffren, her partner, and their cats.
“The cats, Spaghetti and Tuna, act as Greek chorus,” Ariel adds,, “opening up the complex layers of life and love in the Middle East with wit and warmth.”
“I’m not much of a cat person, but I truly love Rafi and Spaghetti, the elegantly drawn, scene-stealing protagonists of Ilana Zeffren’s comics,” says London-based artist, curator, editor, and writer Sarah Lightman. “Politically aware, preoccupied with tunafish, and unrepentantly self-entered, these celebrity felines lounge and
commentate their way through contemporary cosmopolitan Tel Aviv life.”
Urban Tails © 2021 Ilana Zeffren
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.