Picturing Victory from Brooklyn to Buchenwald: Leela Corman on history, fiction, and putting faces to facts

Illustratorin: Leela Corman

Leela Corman is an illustrator, cartoonist and teacher at the College of Fine Arts/University of Florida and the SequentialArtists’ Workshop. Besides numerous shorter pieces, she has published the graphic novels Subway Series (Alternative Books) and Unterzakhn (Schocken/Pantheon), which won the Prix Millepages in 2013. Corman recently visited Berlin to research her latest graphic novel, Victory Parade, which is set during the Second World War in both Brooklyn and Buchenwald.

Interview by stef lenk

What prompted you to set your new book during the Holocaust?

I had gone through a long period of my life being obsessed with the Holocaust. My family were survivors who were not in camps – they were on the run, in ghettos and in the woods. And then I thought I was done with it. It had to do with a really specific and intense vision I had had of dying in Auschwitz, which went on for a long time, and my husband had to shake me out of it – it was head-down-to-the-ground relentless. This vision came to me as I was reading Ludwig Bemelmans’s The Best Of Times, his chapter about Dachau, in which he wrote that he could not draw in that place.