Many years ago, I worked as an illustrator and later as Art Director in an American advertising agency. For many years I painted graphics and murals on custom cars and motorcycles, sometimes on walls in restaurants. However, I had never drawn cartoons until my imprisonment.
I was arrested at my apartment in Moscow on July 18, 2017. I spent nearly two years in various prisons in Moscow and suffered much abuse. The creation of "Mishka" originated as a way to communicate with my wife on the outside. It was only natural, as my wife always calls me "bear". The drawings were both used by me to tell her things that would be censored if written and to add a little humor. I wanted to give her something to smile about and to see that they had not broken me, nor would I let them. Some of the cartoons were sent through the electronic mail, others were handed to my attorney with other documents. Unfortunately, as a result, many of the drawings are presented here, exactly as they appeared on the original letters, which were scanned by prison employees and sent to my wife's email.
Finally, on the 18th of March 2019, the court decided to free me from prison, returning my case to the prosecution due to conflicts between the case material and the actual charges against me.
While in prison I kept very detailed notes about everything that took place, even what was happening inside my own head. Since my release, I've been using those notes as a basis for the book I'm writing about my experience. Of course, the cartoon "Mishka" will be a part of that book, really the story and "Mishka" are inseperable now. I also plan a book of "Mishka", in which, the many drawings will be printed with the story behind each one.
This is far more than a story about an American unjustly imprisoned and suffering, because it's the issue of wrongful imprisonment and the mistreatment of prisoners that is affecting so many lives in the country, this is what must be told.