Özge Samancı

Translating Sensations

Evil Eye

Turkish-American media artist and graphic novelist Özge Samancı is working on a graphic novel centered on a murder mystery. The plot is set in Istanbul ahead of the 1995–96 elections, as a conservative party rises to power using religion to cynically appeal to voters.

Portrait of Samanci Ozge

Özge Samancı

Titled Evil Eye, the novel explores the tactics right-wing populist leaders use throughout the world: sowing fear, celebrating binary thinking, “othering” marginalized groups, and using anger and hostility to promote division. Samancı melds humor and suspense as narrative devices to trace the rise of authoritarianism, and combines illustrations and collages to blur the lines between images and objects.

While the story‘s atmosphere, some of the characters, and many anecdotes are autobiographical—stemming from Samancı’s time spent living in underfunded, poorly maintained government dormitories in Istanbul—the plot is fictional.

Samancı and her mentor, graphic novelist Ulli Lust, met for a work-stay in Angoulême, France, in March 2022, during the annual Angoulême International Comics Festival. The 280-page Evil Eye will be released in 2023, published by Uncivilized Books.

Watch a recap of Samancı‘s contribution at the Forecast Festival 6: