I Solemnly Swear by Dhiyanah Hassan and Syar S. Alia

This collaboration of writing and illustration came from a very simple place. We struggled with defining “commitment” and so we turned to the dictionary. From the list of nouns, verbs and adjectives, we found an easier way to tackle this theme. Commitment is a responsibility, an obligation, a duty. It can be an oath, a vow, a pledge. It can be a physical or moral undertaking. Commitment is to commit, at the base of it all. You can commit murder. You can commit someone to an asylum. You can commit noble acts as well as travesties.

We broke up the word into four “themes”, and like pieces of bread spread it round between us. I wrote a selection of vignettes for three of the themes, and passed it on to Dhiyanah, who then chose the ones she had visual ideas for. From there she made a series of panels for each theme, based on the text I wrote (save for Obligation, which she wrote and illustrated, with input from me).

This collaboration has been intensive and an amazing opportunity to learn from another creative mind. We strove to flesh out the nuances of something as complex as “commitment” in ways that were interesting and new to us, which we hope shows through in our writing and our visual direction.

— Syar


Pledge by Dhi and Syar



Undertaking by Dhi and Syar

(click to enlarge)

Dury by Dhi and Syar



Obligation by Dhi and Syar


Dhiyanah Hassan

  Syar S Alia

Dhiyanah and Syar are regular ISSUE contributors but this is their first collaboration together, and they hope it sparks many more.

9 thoughts on “I Solemnly Swear by Dhiyanah Hassan and Syar S. Alia”

  1. Reblogged this on smart enough to wish I was more kind and commented:

    I was so lucky to get not one but two pieces into ISSUE this month, and this one was – I have to say – extra fulfilling because I got to work with such a talented and amazing person. Dhi and I had a lot of fun with this, and our lengthy emails, constant Whatsapping and in-depth discussions on everything from the themes, to books, to webcomics, to influences really flourished not just into a successful collaboration, but a budding friendship. Awww, right? READ THIS!

  2. One of my all-time ISSUE favorites! Syar, the first three stories had such a strong sense of your voice, PLEDGE especially reminded me of the intrigue/darkness/sensitivity of the story you read at Readings. And Dhi,I’ve said it before – these pieces are drawn so differently, the colors & lines (I’m not good at describing art) do such a great job of narrating the central emotion.

    1. Aw thanks Al, that means a lot coming from you. Voice was such a fun thing that emerged from this experimentation/collaboration – I hope one day to read aloud the vignette pieces that didn’t make the cut. And gosh, how beautiful are all the panels, right?? So proud to have made this with Dhi, and so proud to have made this for ISSUE.

    2. Thank you! I had so much fun being able to move from one look to another 😀 I absolutely loved working with Syar’s writing – can’t wait to see what happens with the other vignettes!

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