Features

Fresh Air: Comics in Dialogue at the Arab Comics Initiative

The Mu’taz & Rada Sawwaf Arab Comics Initiative administers the biggest award in the Arab comics world, the Mahmoud Kahil Award. Managed by Lina Ghaibeh, the Initiative organizes a yearly comics festival for regional and international artists, and maintains a strong academic profile with a conference series and a continuously growing archive. In this conversation I am talking to Lina Ghaibeh, the director of the Initiative and professor of the American University of Beirut, about the ways in which they work with contemporary Arab comics. Lina Ghaibeh introduces us to tendencies in contemporary comics, to the influence of the Arab Spring on comics, as well as to the brief history of Arab comics, and also talks about how one organizes an international festival when Covid and a prolonged financial crisis strike simultaneously. -Eszter Szép

Lina Ghaibeh's self portrait.

Eszter Szép: Lina, you teach at the American University of Beirut, at the Department of Architecture and Design. What is the start of term like there, now? News coming from Lebanon are upsetting.   

Lina Ghaibeh: The current situation is a combination of the catastrophic economic freefall of Lebanon, the post-explosion devastation [on August 4th, 2020 several hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate stored at the Port of Beirut exploded], COVID, corruption, and the lack of government. We have had three failed attempts at forming a government in this past year. Everybody is very eager to get back to in-person teaching meetings, but there are so many obstacles! There is a grave fuel shortage that makes it difficult for students and faculty to commute to the university. Students have asked me to do my courses online. Then I have four students who are still out of the country, their parents live in the Gulf states and do not want them to return to Lebanon in the current situation – they also asked for online options. And the third and most important thing is the instability of electricity. Electricity from the government comes three hours a day (if at all), and you have to rely on generators after that – which would need fuel. The motor of the generators is supposed to run for only a couple of hours, so there are resting periods. What if your class is in the middle of a resting period and you have neither the electricity of the government nor the electricity of a generator? The thing that would take you ten minutes might take a whole day. I’m so sorry to get into detail, but it is sometimes difficult to explain how people are living in this situation. We really have to rely on asynchronized learning and use multiple platforms, we have to be mindful of people who cannot log on. So, all these things combined is really, really tough. I think the biggest thing we lack is not gasoline or electricity, but hope. Now, after the revolution, the Corona, the extreme suffering of the country on all levels, people would need encouragement. I mean both the students and the faculty. 

This sounds terrible. It is like Joe Sacco’s war reportage.

The current situation is often compared to the civil war, which ended in 1990. Then you could physically avoid the area going through conflict, you could be elsewhere for a while, even within the country. There was a lot of uncertainty, but there was also hope. There was nightlife. But now, pubs are often closed, because they don’t have electricity. Delivery is not possible because there is no fuel. Yes, it is like Sacco’s reportage, but this is not a war. 

I have so many questions about the Arab Comics Initiative and the history of Arab comics, but it is so difficult to ask them when it seems that daily life is so difficult. When we talked a few weeks ago, you were uncertain about whether you would organize the international comics festival in October at all. 

Now I think it is very important that life must go on, that our plans are happening. We had a call with the organizers of the festival two days ago [at the beginning of September], we had a long talk about being sensitive to the current situation. Is it wise to go on with something that we have been preparing for two years? The festival was postponed because of Corona, then it was postponed again because of the explosion. Three weeks ago [at the beginning of August], I insisted on not going ahead with this festival because I found it almost as an insult to anyone living in Lebanon. Should you have a festival when you cannot have medicine for your sick child? But, by now, informal systems start to fall into place. People have organized how they get water, how they get medicine. There are Whatsapp groups, Facebook groups, private initiatives to help locate missing medicine. People find small and hopeful solutions. But beyond these basic human needs we also need culture and fresh air. Seeing an artist coming here from abroad and exchanging with local artists, is a relief, a change of pace. For this festival, the French Institute supports the invited guests to come here as part of the fund for the Année de la BD 2020-2021, and I have an annual budget at the Arab Comics Initiative to invite comics artists for the award ceremony, to our conference, or to the exhibition, yet, because of Covid, and having the past two award ceremonies and exhibitions online, we haven’t used this fund. Throughout the past two years, we announced the winners of the Mahmoud Kahil Award, which is I think comes with a very generous sum, to support practitioners during these very hard times. Now we feel that it is almost our obligation to continue to organize the festival. All our programs are open for the public and are for free, and they are in three languages, Arabic, English, and French, and it remains a cultural event, so it does not conflict with the current situation- on the contrary, I believe it brings hope, and with it healing.

This is fantastic!

Actually, we made the decision to go ahead with the festival three days ago. I don’t know how we are going to make it. The organization never stopped during the summer, but, for example, printing in the current situation is difficult. The inks and the printing hours are limited. We have to work around these things and be creative. Maybe it won’t be the exhibition it would have been in a normal situation, but it will be something that we are proud of.

You are creating a cultural island and hope for the community.

I call it fresh air. An exchange of ideas, getting excited, listening to conversations and debates about issues that affect us. There will be many roundtables with artists to discuss artistic directions, the program is really about dialogue. What are the intersections between the experience of artists living here and artists living in Europe? Do we have similar or different concerns, do we have solutions that can work? For example, we have learned a lot from the zine culture that the Arab artist collectives are now taking to another level. We can also discuss how the West is seeing us and how we perceive them. The festival is a platform and a window for us to be visible regionally and internationally through the media and through the interactions of the artists who visit the festival. Feeling, listening, watching, learning – it is indeed our mission to promote comics in the region by showcasing the work of the artists, and this way to open an alternative window to the world, to let them see us beyond the conflict and the misery, to see artists who talk about maybe LGBTQ issues, humor, and a variety of things.

This sounds really exciting!

It is! I was quite down about it, it was hard to muster the enthusiasm the worse the situation got in Lebanon , although we continued to work on the award and a big exhibition called Arab Comics Today: The New Generation, in the background. The exhibition will cover fifty Arab artist and more than ten collectives, and it will be the opening event of the festival. I am co-curating it with George Khoury Jad [Liha’s husband; an artist, critic & educator based in Lebanon, Beirut], and the enthusiasm is back now!

Even your voice is different than a few weeks ago!

I hope so!  

So let’s talk about how the Arab Comics Initiative began. You wrote the proposal for the Initiative in 2014. Why did you see it necessary to have an institution like that, and what is your mission?

The Initiative started in 2014 with a donor businessman and American University of Beirut (AUB) graduate Mu’taz Sawwaf, who wanted to initiate an award for Arab comics artists to honor the talent coming out from the region, and he wanted to administer it through the AUB. He has an impressive collection of about 5000 comic books, international and Arabic, which he suggested donating to the University. I had already written a proposal for a center for comics at AUB, so this offer found me. We created a committee, and brought together a proposal with the aim of introducing an academic component, which would legitimize the administration of the award through AUB, and which would tie the award with a higher cause. We proposed a conference series, archiving and building a collection of Arab Comics in the library, as well as workshops, classes, courses programs, certifications. The donor supported the proposal and we agreed that he would sponsor the award and the programs – the Arab Comics Initiative – for a five-year period to see how it goes. Our collective aim was to promote the study and research of Arabic comics, and also to try to support people producing comics through the award, through exhibitions, workshops, and through the teaching of comics. Those were the three areas, the award, the conference, and the archive.

So in the end he has not donated the collection (yet). How do you enlarge the archive? 

It is now a serious collection of Arabic comics which interprets comics broadly, and involves editorial cartoons and children’s books illustrations. For most of the archival comics, the library located old periodicals from regional vendors. Regarding the contemporary comics, acquisition is simple: whenever I attend a comics festival in the Arab world for outreach, I bought comics for the archive. You have to go there to find them, for Egyptian comics you have to go to Egypt, for Moroccan comics you have to go to Morocco. So whenever I got the chance, if there was a festival and/or I was invited, I would buy contemporary and archival comics for the collection. We also rely on friends; comic artists coming for the award or for a lecture, we ask them to bring along their comics. The previous head of the archives in the library, Kaoukab Shbaro, was also very interested in this area, and she worked on building the collection, through various vendors in difficult to reach areas such as Iraq and so on, to find vintage and old comics. So that’s happening still.

How easy or difficult is it to discuss comics with your colleagues at AUB?

I teach in the graphic design program. At first, the comics courses I was teaching were electives open to design students, but now we are opening up to students university wide at AUB. Now I am also trying to recruit other faculty who have not only interest but also practice in comics, and – without anybody noticing – I’m trying to build, slowly, a minor, maybe. I invite Arab and international comics artists to hold lectures or workshops at the University. The aim is to bring these interesting people in, listen to them, learn about comics from them. The person I constantly work with is of course George Khoury (Jad), who is also on the board of the Initiative and who is the earliest researcher of Arabic comics. He wrote "The History of Arabic Comics", and he is [one of] the first artist who made graphic novels for adults in the Arab world, in the 1980s.

Could you talk a bit about the international conference? I really like its philosophy, which we can see in Jad’s career, too, that you do not separate practice and theory.

It is an annual conference, organized around a different theme, which brings the researchers together. It started with the topic “personal narratives and memoir.” We chose this topic for the first conference for a reason: in the Arab world comics were often about nationalism or propaganda or about generic topics like freedom, happiness, and those kind of big terms. I think a sign of huge change was when the artists started to turn inward, and started talking about our streets. The streets of the revolution, the people, the concerns, the problems. 

When was this first conference?

In 2015. It was to coincide with the Awards ceremony, but there was a huge explosion on the day before, and I postponed the ceremony. We did not postpone [the] conference, though, we thought that academics and students attending talks is not disrespectful in a way a gala or a party would have been. So the Awards were postponed to January 2016. But back to the conference: personal narratives existed before the Arab Revolutions, but the sudden rise and the big turn happened after the Revolution. There were many comics! Especially the Lebanese talk about the civil war, we have many graphic novels reflecting on that. The second conference in 2017 was about war and conflict in Arab comics, and the third theme was activism in comics. The last one (so far) investigated displacement and seeking refuge in Arab comics. All conferences have practitioners, I don’t believe that academic research should be separated from practice. I am always very interested in the practitioners speaking about their experience, their thoughts, their feelings, their aesthetics. They are part of making this new history. 

I totally agree with you on bringing in practitioners when we discuss comics in academic contexts.

Quite honestly, there are very few people doing research about Arab comics, so we need practitioners very much. We also invite people who write about this region, who are interested in the linguistic, anthropologic or social science aspect, and touch upon comics. You see, the background of speakers is quite broad. I’m sure that you know, too, how hard it is to get the people at the university to understand “hello, comics is not just about cartoons.”

Yes, I feel you there. The conference has embraced really important cultural and political issues over the years, do you think that the message has gone through? Is there a response already, or is the change of associations a slower process?

In general, I’d say the majority of the people who come to the symposiums are already interested in comics. There are a few people who see the link; for example people in literature, social sciences and ethnography are more aware of the potential of comics (with biographies and personal narratives) but the whole area of interest or study is still very shy in our region. I am really working on bringing in people. For example, I got in touch with Tania Bosqui, an assistant professor at the Department of Psychology teaching at AUB, who works with refugee children researching coping mechanisms to deal with the trauma they have been through. She wanted to make this study accessible to the vulnerable population she is studying (the refugee children) through drawing a comic herself. And we talked about it and she asked me to have a look at her comics and give some advice, so I did, and I asked her to talk at our refugee conference. And her reaction was, one can talk at a conference about this? So yes, one by one I’m hoping to reel my colleagues in. But, to be honest, the very first exhibition that we did, which was before the exhibitions linked to the conferences, was an exhibition called “Comics In The Curriculum”, which I co-curated with Kaoukab Shbaro, the head of the archives. The idea was to show the community of the university what we have in the collection, that it is so rich. You want to talk about gender? Look, you can use this. You want to talk about translation? Look at those comics. We had samples of comics for different things, topics like “the leader”, or graphic medicine. Strangely enough, the first reactions were most about nostalgia, saying, oh my God, we grew up with these comics. 

Oh, I know this, too. In Hungary, too, people respond with nostalgia and stop there. 

Of course it is nostalgic. But comics are so political about the wars in the region, too. Mickey Mouse wearing a gelabya or holding a gun? They are not innocent. We kept saying, send the students here to do research, too. I think the exhibition opened some people’s eyes, but the major response was nostalgia.

At this point there was the exhibition only, and no conference?

The conferences started in 2015, but in the last two years I associated the exhibition with the conference, it seemed natural, the material was just magical. A lot of the exhibitors came to the conference to talk about their work as practitioners. The last exhibition featured 37 artists in “Beit Beirut” a beautiful urban cultural museum, an abandoned historical building that housed snipers in the civil war. Just walking into it makes you feel emotional.

Could you tell more about the awards?

The awards honor contemporary artists and there are also two honorary awards: a Lifetime Achievement and a Comics Guardian award. The monetary awards are the highest paying awards in the region, it is $10,000 for the graphic novel and editorial cartoon categories each, and $5000 each for the winners in the categories of comics strips, children’s books illustration, and graphic illustration. Each year, we showcase samples of works in beautiful books with silkscreen panels and handstitched binding. To me, this is also an archiving project. We are creating an archive of the kind of work that is coming out of the region. Hopefully we can keep building on this to be a sample of professional work that can be studied in the future. I’m trying to keep statistics of how many women apply for the award, from which countries the applicants come from. There is, for example, a rise in women applying for an award – this does not mean they are practicing more, they could be. Children’s book illustration has always had a majority of women, it is perceived as a women’s area, and there are a lot of applications in this category from Palestine, they are pushing the boundaries in interesting ways. Lebanon and Egypt have the highest number of applicants each year, these countries also have the biggest comics culture with the highest production. Interestingly, in Lebanon and Egypt the majority of graphic novels are drawn by women.

Does this mean that the editorial cartoon category is dominated by male authors?

Absolutely. I think women feel less self-confident to be in the area of politics. They have their opinions, they have their say. But I must say that after the revolution in Lebanon, far more women are doing political cartoons and editorial cartoons, and they are not afraid. They are the ones making the change. They can talk about politics as a personal experience, they do not feel like outsiders anymore. We also have a famous Egyptian editorial cartoonist, Doaa’ El Adl, she is a “bad-ass” artist in a good way. She wears a scarf and is very daring in drawing taboo topics; her last book was called 50 drawings and more on women and it features a nude on the cover. She is quite progressive! 

So this is now our sixth year, and our donor has committed to an endowment towards a full-fledged center on Arab Comics studies at the university. We hope to move towards a more academic profile, and we’d like to have a visiting researcher come each year to study the archive. We would like to promote the proceedings and research coming out of the conferences. We also would like to support artists further. But, you know, I am alone. I thankfully have a project coordinator working with me on administrative issues, and a lead designer. But everything else is on me.

This is what I wanted to ask! How do you have the energy to do this – to have been doing this for years?

And I teach full time. And I coordinated the graphic design program for two years. Ah, I don’t know. First, for sure, there is the passion for comics. It sustains me. There are moments, of course, that are stressful, particularly big events, like the award gala. Invitations, food, flowers. There is high pressure for a short period of time when we do the exhibition, the jury, the announcement of the award, but during the year the work is a little easier. In the summer there is no teaching, but it is the time when we start our social media campaign, open the call for submissions and preparing for the award. An excellent graphic designer working with us on our social media presence and she is handling the publishing of books. This way we are now a team of three. I just hope the others don’t leave! Salaries in Lebanon are now worth the tenth of what they used to – there is a huge devaluation going on. I stay for the love of comics, but I cannot expect it from others. 

This is terrible. What you are saying now reminds me of when we were visiting "Eruptions: Comic Art on the Front Lines of Contemporary Protest" exhibition in Lyon, and when we were visiting the Arab section, you were pointing at artists saying this person now lives in Germany, this person somewhere else. How does the devaluation and indeed this prolonged crisis affect Arab comics culture?

First, you need to know that [the] Lebanese have always left, for example during and after the Civil War (1975-1990). But they came back. It is only recently that things have gotten bad really fast. The economic crisis has been very serious in the last two years. In the past decade since the Arab Spring, the artists have matured: those who were in their twenties are now in their thirties, those who were in their thirties are now in their forties. They have grown, maybe they want to seek stability- a job that pays. They are now ready to move on to another stage. Some are no longer able to commit the time and effort of making comics for free and so have contributed less and less. Some have moved abroad, and some moved on beyond the collective they founded and are publishing on their own. I think all the artists who have moved abroad became famous because of their writing and work on Lebanon. I always ask, if you leave, what are you going to say? Maybe for a few years you keep on talking about back home, but then you get disconnected. Mazen Kerbaj, who is one of the most famous comics artists from Lebanon who moved to Berlin a few years ago, was able to surpass this and now writes about living in Berlin and what he misses, so he created a story out of it. But he also writes about Corona among other things. Will their work eventually lose the edge? I don’t know. On the other hand, the artists who have stayed are continuously seeking opportunities to publish their work even if they know that publishing their work in Lebanon will not bring them global fame. But they often get interest from French publishers, and many have moved there. Even some artists from Egypt have moved to Belgium or the US, such as Shennawy and Ganzeer. Egyptian artist Deena Mohamad had several art residencies abroad, and recently got an offer from Fantagraphics for her graphic novel. At the moment it is early to see how these processes will impact the comics scene of the region, but for sure the comics scene came from the streets and from the people living the experience. The dilemma of staying or leaving is not the same in each Arab country, the artists from Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria tend to stay. And there is one more group, the Syrians. They are silent. Many are abroad fleeing the war, for sure, in Turkey, Germany, Sweden. There is a big majority who have fled, and they are completely silent. Except for children’s books, there is nothing. Is it still out of fear? Is it too soon? Is it too painful? I don’t know, but I’m waiting for them.

How strong is the connection to France? 

The connection with Lebanon, specifically, was a perhaps more of a colonial one. They really affected the region, together with Syria. That connection is still there. Egypt, on the other hand, was a British colony. Because of that, the majority of the population in Lebanon speaks French, and the comics they grew up with (afterwards) were French or Belgian: Tintin, Lucky Luke, Spirou, Asterix, all those. The collective Samandal (started in 2008) were more influenced by American underground comics, as they are English-educated, and most of them were graduates of the American University of Beirut. But those who took over Samandal recently are from the Lebanese Academy for Arts, which has stronger links to Francophone culture. You can really see the shift in the Samandal production from the aesthetic of the US underground towards a more Francophone aesthetic. 

I would like to briefly return to what you said earlier, that the protest in the streets gave a boost to Lebanese comics, and in more general, to Arab comics. Could you talk a bit more about that? And maybe it would be time to ask you to tell us a bit about the origins of Arab comics and the important autobiographical movement that appeared in Arab comics in the works of Jad Khoury in the 80s? This is a big question!

The history of comics dates back to the late 1800s. This was primarily editorial cartooning for adults, but then from the 1920s onward, and with the golden age in the 1950s and 60s, it was primarily children’s comics such as Sindiband, Sameer, Ali Baba etc.. This shift created a whole industry of magazine publications. A lot was happening in the 60s! After this came the monopoly of translated superhero comics, like Superman, Batman, The Flash, and Disney – and comics from Europe, like Spirou, Asterix, Tintin, Lucky Luke, all of which dominated the market. In the late 70s and early 80s there was a revival to go back to local talents and localized content about issues of the region. This was the period of the independence of the Arab states and Pan-Arab nationalism, excitement about building on our rich visual culture. Instead of copying the west and being inspired by it, the artists were instead looking at folklore, history, Islamic history, Persian miniatures. Heroes from folklore were featured in comics, like Joha, Kaalila was Dimna fables, Antara and Abla. The magazines who spearheaded this were Majed in UAE, Bisat el Rih and Ahmad in Lebanon, as well as Mizmar and Majalati in Irak. Later, in the 1980’s the very first adult graphic novel was George or Jad Khouri’s Carnaval, a fictional yet personal story of the Civil War. Jad started to explore the area of adult comics and was devoted to promoting this completely crazy passion about graphic novels, or as it was then called, BD, as an art form, and not as entertainment. 

Was he a singular figure? 

He then made two more graphic albums, and in 1985 he started a collective called JadWorkshop. I was part of this collective of six artists, some of us came from fine arts, some from interior design, but we all had this passion for comics. We met regularly and had three exhibitions – or four? There was no comics industry, we self-published a catalog each time. This was the early stage of adult comics, and our principle was that our work must be in Arabic and it must address the local public. We spoke about the civil war. Everything was very small scale, but funnily enough we found out that some of these comics were scanned and disseminated in different parts of the world. Our first full-fledged graphic novel “Min Beirut” (From Beirut) came out at the very end and worst part of the war in 1989 when bombs were literally falling on our heads and people were hiding in shelters.

 

 

How did this different view of comics grow?

Things happening in both Lebanon and Egypt were precursors leading to this rise. The Lebanese artist Zeina Abirached, published A Game for Swallows in 2007 which is her personal narrative of the Civil War from the perspective of a child. Before her, another active creator who made a lot of self-published work was Mazen Kerbaj, who published independently and even with L’Association, and recently with Fantagraphics. These experiences were individual, but it wasn’t until Samandal, the second Lebanese comics collective, launched their first album in 2008, that it became more of a movement and soon after, in 2010 the Arab uprisings started. We must not forget that it was the youth who protested in the streets, and with them came their culture, graffiti, rap, and comics. Comics is a popular art form that defies the norms and expectations of traditional art such as oil paintings in museums. Comics is subversive and anti-establishment.

The most mediatized events of the Revolution probably took place in Egypt. Interestingly, in Egypt the collective Toktok was formed and published their work just before the Revolution. They followed in the footsteps of Magdy El Shafee, who published Metro, the first Egyptian graphic novel, in 2008. El Shafee and his publisher were imprisoned, and the book, which spoke about police brutality and state corruption, was censored (the Arabic version was pulled out of the market and did not reappear till many years later). This brought a lot of attention, international, regional and local, to Metro, which was later translated into several languages. Metro showed the tension bubbling and the problems in Egypt before the Revolution even though it is a fictional work. So there were steps that preceded the explosion of Arab comics that happened after the Arab Spring. But with the Arab spring, it all blew up and became much more used as a platform for talking about the streets and the daily life.

Metro, by Magdy El Shafee, 2008. Pictured here is the English language edition's cover, published by Holt in 2012. The book is about a young engineer frustrated by social injustice and government corruption. Following it's original publication in 2008, Shafee was convicted of “disturbing public morals” and fined $1,000.

 

Do you see a direct link between the Arab Spring and the growing number of personal comics?

Absolutely. The internet was fundamental in this: it made everything shareable all across the Arab world. You know, it was called the Facebook revolution. After a very long time of being isolated from each other, Arabs could finally see each other’s works. In catalogs and books you see the history of art of the world – of the West, a very Eurocentric perspective, and here we are seeing our fellow artists from Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, Lybia, Iraq, Palestine. This was impossible before, comics were distributed only locally, except for a few international magazines. This big opening up to each other and creating networks was fantastic. Artists started working together. 

Is it easy to understand each other’s languages?

With the Arab Spring, there is a return to the Arabic language even in Tunisia, where comics culture has been mainly in French. However, the local dialect returns, and this is very important. The Egyptians are writing in Egyptian, the Moroccans are writing in Moroccan and in Amazigh, etc. Previously, everything was in classical Arabic, but now it is so local that it is difficult to read the comics from other countries. The topics also changed, collective Arab issues have been put aside, and the focus is on local issues even though we have things in common. There is a return to the local in the language, in the dialect, in the portrayal of the streets, the clothing, the issues in each country. So, the boom in comics was created by a mix of the internet, subversive art in self-expression, the events of the revolution. The collectives are self-publishing, and they often get support from cultural centers like the French Institute, the Goethe Institute, and even the British Council, to publish magazines. There are now some publishing houses in Egypt, but they are still hesitant.

You curated and exhibition in Angoulême in 2018, could you talk a bit about that?

In 2015 Shennawy, Magdy Shafei of Metro, and Twins Cartoons proposed a festival of comics in Cairo, and the French Institute supported it financially and also took part in the programs with roundtables and inviting guests. After this, I was involved in discussions with the French Institute and the Institute de Monde Arabe about a two-part exhibition on the history of Arab comics and on contemporary comics. There were many complications, the the Institute and French Institute pulled out but La Cité de la Bande Dessinée in Angouleme remained interested. Eventually, the exhibition took place in 2018, and we focused on the new generation, who made the sudden rise in adult comics from 2000 onward. The material of the exhibition is going to come to Beirut, for this year’s festival. As I have mentioned, I will be co-curating it with Georges Khoury Jad, and we return to the original concept of showing the output of artistic collectives instead of dividing it by countries. We also add new material created after 2018, and include new coming artists and those who started to publish independently of their collectives, and beyond the boundaries of their countries.

This is very exciting, I do hope that you will be able to show it to the people in Beirut in October.

Arab Comics Today: The New Generation opens at Dar El-Nimer for Arts and Culture on October 7th, 2021.
“Arab Comics Today: The New Generation”
Curated by Lina Ghaibeh and George Khoury (Jad)
Organized by Mu’taz and Rada Sawwaf Arab Comic Initiative at the American University of Beirut.

It is no coincidence that the Arab youth’s modern renaissance in comics accompanied the revolutions in the Arab world that began a decade ago. Collectives and individuals pursued a dream that has today become an established reality among the Arab youths’ art space. The exhibition, ‘Arab Comics Today: The New Generation,’ sheds light on these young artists, who continue to innovate, produce, and stubbornly challenge the difficult circumstances and vicissitudes that are afflicting us all.

The exhibition will bring together over 50 comics artists and Comics collectives from across the Arab world. 

 

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