About this comic

Study of the comic character "Sartep" by Felix Mertikat, 2018

How did this story come about?

In March 2016, a young Kurd, Sartep Namiq, came to Berlin from Iraq, hoping for a better future. At first life in the emergency shelter for refugees in the old Tempelhof airport was a challenge. For twelve months, he lived in a hangar with 900 others not knowing what would happen next . When Namiq heard about the "New Patrons" program, which supports people in starting unusual projects, he had an idea: he could have artists draw a comic book for him in which the refugee accommodation in Tempelhof Airport is transformed into a fantastical city. He envisioned a science fiction story in which everyone works together to create a better world, a world in which each individual’s dreams, desires and abilities can develop freely. This is how the comic "Temple of Refuge" came into being - commissioned by Sartep Namiq, accompanied and made possible by Alexander Koch, director of the New Patrons.

Writer Bruce Sterling and Sartep Namiq in a Berlin café, 2016 / The emergency shelter for refugees at Tempelhof Airport, 2016 / Sartep Namiq and dramaturg Matthias Zuber working on the script, 2019

The New Patrons brought Namiq together with Bruce Sterling - internationally famous as one of the founders of cyberpunk literature. Sterling travelled to Berlin to work with Namiq to write the first draft With the help of other authors, Sterling's and Namiq's story continued to evolve, and finally the comic artist Felix Mertikat transformed it into a book. Entirely without words, the comic shows on more than 80 pages what could be if the world were not what it is. providing hope for a creative, respectful and non-violent togetherness.

The protagonist of the story is himself an artist and a refugee., During his escape from conflict, he records everything in drawings on his smartphone. When he reaches the dismal reception camp, Tempelhof, outside the walls of a futuristic Berlin, he is separated from his friend. Left alone in the slum of Tempelhof, he experiences violence and rejection, but also solidarity and new friendship. Then the unbelievable happens: suddenly his drawings become reality, fleeting strokes turn into real houses, cars, tools, and in the blink of an eye a new, fantastic reality emerges. The dream of a better world for all comes within reach.

"This project was the first door for me to open again after my escape - something I could really do. Then after that, other doors opened for me in Berlin. I hope this story makes people optimistic about coming together, opening their own doors and finding new open doors for themselves," says Sartep Namiq about his book.

Felix Mertikat at Tempelhof Airport, 2018 / Sartep Namiq in front of the comic book store "Grober Unfug" in Berlin Kreuzberg, 2017 / In a workshop, people with refugee experience discuss drafts of comic story, 2019

How did this comic book become possible?

"Temple of Refuge" is a project of the Society of New Patrons in cooperation with ifa - Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, sponsored by the German Foreign Office and supported by the Fondation de France. The project was developed and produced by Alexander Koch, director of the Society of New Patrons.

The society of New Patrons, a non-profit organisation, engages people in the commissioning process who often otherwise do not have access to the arts. Those seeking to make a difference in their community are provided the opportunity to commission renowned artists in various fields, including visual arts, architecture, music and theater. Commissioners and artists work closely to develop projects that address pressing questions of the day, producing non-commercial cultural assets available for all to enjoy. The role of the organisation is to provide the framework for this interaction and support all participants throughout the process of commissioning, financing and execution of their project.

Sartep Namiq and project manager Alexander Koch with 10,000 copies of the comic book

Where can I find this comic book?

10,000 copies of the comic book have been given away to those interested in reading and discussing it. . Libraries, schools, refugee shelters, and non-profit organizations have received copies to make it publicly available.

At the same time, "Temple of Refuge" is being published by Egmont Comic Collection for distribution through international booksellers. All profits will benefit the aid organization Sea-Watch e.V., which rescues refugees in distress at sea.

If you would like to use the comic for teaching or workshops, report on it, or simply to learn more, we are happy to help.

Sartep Namiq interviewed by ZDF magazine Aspekte, 2021 / 8,000 free books sent to libraries, educational and refugee institutions in Germany and the MENA region, 2021

How can I contribute to the project?

If you like the book and its creation story, you can support us: tell your children about it; talk to your neighbors, share your experience on social media #temple-of-refuge.

As a non-profit organization, we rely on grants and donations. You can help us support ongoing and future projects here.

Who is involved? / Imprint

Felix Mertikat, Sartep Namiq, Bruce Sterling, Matthias Zuber Temple of Refuge
Release date: March 3, 2021
Publisher: Egmont Comic Collection
84 pages, hardcover
ISBN: 978-3-7704-0115-4
Format: 22.1 cm x 29.2 cm
€ 10.00 (D) / € 10.30 (A)

All profts from the sale of the comic books will be donated to the aid organization Sea-Watch e. V., which rescues refugees in distress at sea.

The entire comic is available digitally at www.temple-of-refuge.net.

Commissioned by Sartep Namiq
Story: Christopher Tauber, Matthias Zuber, based on an idea by Bruce Sterling
Illustration: Felix Mertikat
Color: Jacob Müller
Mediation and direction: Alexander Koch
Co-mediation: Natasha Aruri, Soran Ahmet
Project management: Julia Jung, Karola Matschke

Team Die Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber: Boushra Adi, Kathrin Aichele, Anna Freedman, Stefanie Kinsky, David Magnus, Clara Schulze, Henriette Sölter
Press relation: Denhart von Harling
Press relation MENA region: Rasha Wahab
Website: Artur Neufeld
Translations: Boushra Adi, Ruzgar Buski, Gerrit Jackson, Ayaz Kado, Julia Kuniß, Günter Orth

Die Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber Lindenstraße 35, 10969 Berlin
Die Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber is supported by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

Press contact

Denhart von Harling
+49 179 4963497

MENA region:
Rasha Wahab offce@neueauftraggeber.de