About finding the true end of a graphic novel.
I was looking at The Carpet Merchant Volume II again (hellohello, you can buy it now) and was still surprised by the rawness of the author’s note I wrote as a replacement to the original ending. Originally, Volume II – and the story overall – ended with a little montage narrated by Zeynel summarising the entire epic and its themes: stories, love, heartbreak and destiny.
I still like that piece, and it still serves as an ending. But it wasn’t really the end ending. There was something missing, and I didn’t find that piece until I experienced closure of my years-long pilgrimage/quarter-life crisis myself, a month after TCM finished.
I’ve mentioned it so many times on this blog – but I’ll never stop talking about TCM because it was the story that made me who I am today. It’s exactly the kind of thing some creatives gesture at when they talk about the transformative, healing power of art. It’s exactly what TCM thematically is about, and Zeynel’s not only redeemed himself and [spoiler], but me as well.
Rereading that note, I find myself thinking: I hope I’ll get to experience another creative work like this again. It’s already a blessing that I got to make something like TCM once.
Readers of the original 2016 – 2018 webcomic will notice that the epilogue is completely different. Yes, it is. In the years since the aftermath of The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya, I’ve come to realise that the true ending of this two-volume historical vampire epic about love, kindness and the transformative power of story is not Zeynel’s ending alone, but his and mine.
Every carpet tells its own tale, carrying in its every knot and pattern a part of its weaver. When the story of The Carpet Merchant first came to me in December 2015, I was two months shy of my 21st birthday. Young, nervous and green, I poured my heart and soul into its creation, which soon coincided with a period of personal crisis and upheaval. Looking back, so much of Zeynel’s character journey foretold or reflected my own. In Volume I, as he made that brave leap away from an old life, with all its trappings and ill-fitting futures, after his induction into Ayse’s world, so did I. And as he soothed and transformed an injured soul in Volume 2, so did I for my own lost soul that needed repair. Guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, etc.
Anyway, as dramatic and sentimental as the truth will sound, creating this story completely changed me and my everything. It brought me back to life, taught me to dream, and rescued me from the midnight sorrows of regret. It helped reclaim my voice and confidence. It made me the storyteller I am today, both in a career and craft sense; and it challenged me in the joys and perils of historical writing beyond the common and the easy. While I’m older now, at the point where I am able to pick up the telltale signs of a story drawn and written by someone in their very early twenties, there is nothing I’d change (beyond the edits I made for the remastering). It is the perfect, raw encapsulation of the person I was long ago, once upon a lifetime.
The love that I still feel for The Carpet Merchant is immeasurable, the kind that will last for as long as I live – one that I will continue to carry in the telling of all my stories, whether written or lived.
Thank you, my book, for the gifts you had given to me during and after your becoming.
And, lastly, thank you my Zeynel, for showing me that love is the true redeemer.
Reimena Yee is a graphic novelist, artist and flamingo enthusiast.
She writes and illustrates quite a few webcomics and graphic novels. When not making books, she lulls away her time with essays on craft, life and experiences in the publishing industry. Some of her thoughts of art and life are rather unstructured and will evolve over time as this blog matures, as they should be.
Currently committed to being Alexander the Great's death doula. Is a nerd for all things spooky and historical.
Melbourne / Kuala Lumpur