In this week’s Illustrated PEN, Guest Editor Meg Lemke presents an excerpt from the graphic novel Lissa: A Story About Medical Promise, Friendship, and Revolution, a collaborative project by Sherine Hamdy, Coleman Nye, Sarula Bao, and Caroline Brewer.

Lemke writes: In this excerpt from Lissa: A Story About Medical Promise, Friendship, and Revolution, we encounter two young girls, one Egyptian, one American—childhood intimates who are navigating difficult circumstances from very different cultural perspectives.

Their stirring story, chronicled over time and both personal and politically disruptive events, is not only a beautifully drawn and told piece of graphic fiction, it’s also the realization of a grand academic experiment. The volume is the first publication in a new scholarly series from Toronto University Press, ethnoGRAPHIC, an attempt to “realize ethnographic research in graphic novel form.” Impressive care was taken with this publication, from the innovative casting of collaborative young illustrators who bring new talents to the field, to the extensive back matter, including a timeline of the 2011 Egyptian revolution (when the book’s climactic events are set), a reading guide, and an in-depth discussion of the editorial process. Keep an eye on what’s to come from this provocative new series.

Lissa is a graphic novel written by academics Sherine Hamdy and Coleman Nye and illustrated by artists Sarula Bao and Caroline Brewer. The complete graphic novel was released on November 15, 2017, as the debut title in the ethnoGRAPHIC series published by the University of Toronto Press.