I made these drawings for a story set during the Iran-Iraq War in the 80s. I scrolled through pages and pages of wreckage and injury for reference photos.

They stop being specific after thirtieth bombed out street, the fiftieth bloody bandaged body. My mind goes to other wars in other times. I’ve never been to Abadan or seen the Karun River. The setting of these horrors is unknown to me.

So much of our current lives are this way. We’re bombarded with images that have no context. They may as well be backgrounds for video-games. They often are. The pain conveyed is blunted by becoming a speck among a million other specks.

I choose pictures set in the places mentioned in the story but because I’m not tied to the places like the writer is my mind wanders. I do what I can to illustrate his words but I rarely know whether I succeed.

Once his story leaves the immediate world of a child and his family amid a war zone, I’m completely lost. He moves on to a time-travel realm which I have no access to. I have little imagination on my best days. The day-to-day of another country in another decade is fantasy enough for me.

I know what crumbled buildings and injured people look like, more or less. But once characters start aging decades sentence to sentence I throw up my hands. I guess he had to wrap up his story some way and chose magic. Maybe the reality was best forgotten.