Today on the site:
Alex Dueben speaks to the artists behind the Lebanese anthology Samandal, a project for which they were punished by their government.
I’m sure some readers know of Samandal, but I wondered if you could say a little about how it began and what you were trying to create?
Omar Khouri: When I first came up with the idea for Samandal in 2006, the political climate of Lebanon was extremely polarized. I felt that each publishing house that I might work with would pigeon-hole me into the political allegiance of that publisher. I had a comic book I wanted to serialize called Salon Tareq el Khurafi, which was quite political in nature, but dealt with more general themes than the local discourse was willing to accept at the moment. I was also craving a regular, periodic local comics production, and couldn't believe that it didn't exist here. I figured the best course would be self-publishing, but always preferred the Japanese manga magazine format to the single-issue Western one. I also wanted to include work from all over the world because I felt that being able to interact with international artist from countries that have stronger comics traditions would be beneficial to the development of the local comics scene. I was sure that there were other hidden writers and artists out there that felt the same frustrations I did, so I reached out to some friends (Tarek Nabaa, Hatem, Lena and Fdz) and they were very excited, so we went for it. Though Samandal has evolved so much in the past 9 years, and our team has grown, it still retains the spirit of everything we wanted to do at the start.
fdz: Samandal grew out of a the desire of a bunch of people (Omar, Lena, Hatem & Fadi) who were raised on comics and wanted to publish their own spin on the medium. We didn't really think it was something that would catch on because we didn't really think there many people out there like us. The smartest thing we did was open up the publication to submissions from other contributors because pretty soon we discovered that everyone wanted to take Samandal out for a spin.
Could explain exactly what you were convicted of?
fdz: a) Inciting sectarian strife b) denigrating religion c) publishing false news and d) defamation and slander.
Defamation and slander have become the standard accusation with the recent rise of legislation in Lebanon, where the accusing party enjoys some kind of political power and uses the legal system to exercise it. In the recent protests of the summer in Lebanon, the country saw a surge in various slander and libel cases issued by political personalities and parties against individuals.
The aforementioned Alex Dueben also has an interview up with Riad Sattouf.
Hyperallergic on Archie Rand's picture story of the 613 Jewish commandments.
Steve Heller has a well-timed look at Arthur Szyk.