Behind Farm 54: The Making of the Graphic Novel by Galit & Gilad Seliktar

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The graphic novel Farm 54 is based on three stories written by Galit Seliktar. The stories were first published in Israeli literary magazines and then adapted into a graphic novel by Galit’s brother, illustrator Gilad Seliktar. Farm 54 is a real place where both siblings were raised, an actual farm in Ganei-Yohanan – a small village located in Israel’s agricultural periphery, which was founded by Jewish immigrants from Russia, Yemen and Libya in the early 1950s. All the stories in Farm 54 are based on true events which took place between the mid-1970s and late 1980s. Farm 54 has been published so far in five languages, and was nominated for the 2009 Angoulême book award in France.

In the background: Farm 54, Winter 1982 (L to R: Gilad Seliktar, Moni Seliktar, Galit Seliktar)

THE SUBSTITUTE LIFEGUARD

Galit & Gilad: This story was the first collaboration between us and the cornerstone of 
Farm 54
. It was first published in 2007 as a short graphic story in an Israeli literary magazine, 
Masmerim
, and included a framed narrative which is omitted in the book. In that earlier version the story starts with the heroine visiting her brother’s grave where she relives his drowning in her mind.

Panels from the first version of “The Substitute Lifeguard” in which Noga visits her brother’s grave:







Galit: One afternoon, when Gilad was about two years old, our family was barbequing in the backyard. It was a hot day and my father went to look for one of our dogs he had seen disappear at the far end of the yard, a part covered with high grass and infested with snakes. On his way he passed by our blue fiberglass wading pool and heard heavy spattering. He thought he had found the dog, but it was Gilad, fighting for his life in the half-meter-high chlorinated water. I saw him in my father’s arms, fully dressed in his toddler clothes and wet to the bone. Both of them were quiet. The silence broke when my mother started screaming. Only then did we stop eating.