Collection of 'Garage' pages
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Collection of 'Garage' pages
Column: Arab Literature
Last updated: May 11, 2016

What’s new in Arabic comics (VIDEO)

How edgy is the Arabic comics scene at the moment?

Jonathan Guyer’s Oum Cartoon recently ran a discussion between Guyer and Egyptian artist Ganzeer about what’s new in the worlds of Arabic comics. Over at Arab Hyphen, Tasnim Qutait posted up a panel that was part of the Casa Árabe exhibition Pens and Cartoons: Arab Comics in Motion. And, of course, winners of the inaugural Mahmoud Kahil Awards have been announced.

Guyer and Ganzeer talk about the boom in Egyptian comics publishing in the last five to ten years, from the publication of Metro (2008) to everything happening now on the widely varied scene. They also discussed other comics and graphic-novelling hotspots, including Beirut, Tunis, Casablanca, and beyond.

Guyer said, about what’s different about Arabic comics, vs. those elsewhere:

"The concept of the comix zine collective — which we are seeing in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia — has probably fallen out of fashion in the US. But across the Arab region, this is where the edgiest stuff is being published right now."

And also:

"…in terms of political cartoons and caricature, I think what’s happening in Egypt is much more dynamic and compelling than the cartoons published in the Western press — but that’s another story."

RELATED STORY In Tunis, a new home for comics

Over at Arab Hyphen, Qutait talks about a Casa Árabe panel discussion that featured Lebanese animation and comics artist Lina Ghaibeh and Tunisian comics author and illustrator Issam Smiri. The two spoke about “the history of Arab comics and the current comics boom in the Arab world.”

Their talk coincided with the exhibition Pens and Cartoons: Arab Comics in Motion, which says it aims to provide an “overview of current comics and graphic novels in the Arab world through 23 works produced from 2007 to 2015, all very representative of the creative response by Arab writers and illustrators to the social and political transformations occurring over the last decade.”

Also, don’t miss:

Lebanese comics artist and graphic novelist Mazen Kerbaj recently sent out an email that includes comics newly translated and published online. They include:

In Search for a Subject – A Hypothetical Reportage by Mazen Kerbaj (2014)
Originally published in German in Swiss magazine Strapazin.

Flap Flap (2010)
Kerbaj: “Originally published in French in my book Lettre à la mère (2013 – L’Apocalypse). This one will be published online on the 1st of February on the website Words Without Borders (where many of my short stories are already published in English; check them out here if you didn’t know about them).”


If you're interested in more stories about Arabic literature, do check out Marcia's blog.

Marcia Lynx Qualey
Marcia is a writer and reader who runs a popular blog on Arab Literature, a subject that she also covers for Your Middle East in her biweekly column. Visit: http://arablit.wordpress.com/
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