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Diversity of Global Comics: A Cross
Section of Culture, Politics, and
The Middle East and North Africa
A virtual exhibition by Liladhar R. Pendse, PhD
University of California, Berkeley
This exhibition strives to highlight the diverse collection
of comics and graphic novels that are held in the
collection of the UC Berkeley library. The term diversity
is interpreted here loosely due to its nuanced character.
To highlight, the diversity, visitors to this exhibit are
presented with a selection of comics and graphic novels
that are published in the different societies and
countries. The terms comics and the graphic novels are
used interchangeably throughout this narratives.
The comics and the graphic novels often reflect upon
the socio-economic, ideological and political realities of
the societies in which they are produced. This exhibit
refuses to take an ideological stance on the views that
have been expressed in the titles that have been
displayed. However, the arrangements and the
curatorial choices of particular titles over the others
reflect an effort to celebrate our differences.
Map of Virtual Exhibition: the
Middle East and North Africa
Arab artists in the Middle East and
North African countries have
continued to highlight various
social, historical and economic
events through various cartoon
strips, caricatures, and the
In this case on the Middle East,
we present comics that vary from
children's journals to more serious
These items are from the
collections of UC Berkeley
Libraries and also from the
individual selectors who are
interested in collecting these as a
part of a hobby.
Theme 1: The translations and
the adaptation of the Western
themes in Arab Comics.
Theme 2: Expressing the
nascent Arab nationalism
through “locally” created
Theme 3: Expressing the
traditional lore through
Theme 4: Political Caricatures
Theme 4: Online Presence.
superhero from the
American comic’s that
was adapted in the
MENA comics is
published from 1964-
1999. The hero’s
name was changed to
Nabil Fawzi from the
original Clark Kent so
that the local audience
can relate to him.
Miki= ميكي (Egypt)
Besides, the Superman, we
have Miki (an adaptation of
Disney’s Mickey Mouse).
Miki was published in Cairo by
Dar al-Hilāl from 1959-2003,
as a translation of Disney’s
Mickey and it was adapted to
suit the tastes of Arab children
by re-envisioning American
Mickey Mouse in the local
The name of Uncle Scrooge
was changed to Uncle Gold
(‘Am dhahab= عم ذهب.)
Miki=ميكي (continued) Image Source: http://majalat.tumblr.com/ and Wikipedia
Miki Magazine | Issue 587 | 1972 | Egypt
BiSsāṭal-rīḥ=الريح بساط (Lebanon)
the flying carpet.
This comic was
younger audience. It
was published from
Usamah: Majallah al-Atfal al- ‘Arabi
Usamah is the Arab children’s
magazine that was
established in Damascus in
Its current editor is Reem
Mahmoud. Its format includes
comics as well as textual
materials that consist of
poems, anecdotes, and short
Although not a comic in its
true sense, ‘Usamah
contained several cartoon
strips. The goal of this
magazine was reinforced the
Baathist ideals of the Syrian
The second magazine is called
Samīr. Samīr. magazine is an
Egyptian weekly magazine for
children. It is published weekly by
the Dar al-Hilal al-Masriyah in
The magazine offers itself as a
magazine for those with ages 8 to
88. The first issue of Samir
magazine was published on April
The covers of the issues that are
included in this exhibition show how
the nationalist ideology of Gamal
Abdel Nasser’s era of United Arab
Republic was dominant in Egypt.
The images on the covers of the
comics depict in one instance an
idealized version of young Egyptian
dressed in the Boy Scouts uniform.
The comics magazine “Samīr”
whose audience was primarily
Egyptian children often depicted
nationalist symbols on its cover-
page. Here we see Port Said’s
Martyrs Memorial where a child
laying the wreath.
Port Said Martyrs Memorial is a
monument in Al-Sharq District,
Port Said. The memorial was
constructed to commemorate the
martyrs of Port Said in the battles
of the tripartite aggression during
the Suez Crisis. The obelisk was
erected on a base above a flame,
also there is the Museum of
Modern Art in Egypt under the
base of the memorial.
Dar al-Hilāl in Cairo to this
continues to produce
The content is not
accessible online. Some
images of the cover-pages
of the issues can be seen
Folk-Heroes in Arab and Middle Eastern Comics.
The third prominent theme
that dominates the world of
Arab comics is that of the
Here we see a comic book
with called Juḥā. Juḥā is
also Nasreddin of Turkic
He appears in thousands of
stories, sometimes witty,
sometimes wise, but often,
too, a fool or the butt of a
Online Middle Eastern and North
In the era that is often called a post-laptop era, many Arabic
language comics have migrated to digital online format. Below are
some digital Arabic comics.
Qahera Superhero (Egypt) : “ A superhero in Cairo” not a comic,
but a digital painting as a thank you to everyone who has kept up
with this comic through its long and slow history. there may be more
of these (and yes, also more comics! eventually.)
“Majid (UAE) (Arabic: ماجد nap a si )-dna ygolohtna koob cimoc barA
barA detinU eht ,ibahD ubA ni dehsilbup enizagam s'nerdlihc
ynapmoC aideM ibahD ubA eht yb setarimE. http://majid.ae/
Maalak Online (LEBANON) http://www.malaakonline.com/
Tok-Tok (Tuk Tuk) (EGYPT) http://www.toktokmag.com/home.htm
Tush Fish (Tosh Fesh)
Tosh Fesh also releases a series of books dedicated to caricature
and comics artists in the Arab word. The series focuses on the
artists 'work that generally depicts the suffering and the bitter reality
lived by ordinary citizens whether on a political or social scale.
"Arabic Comic Books." Home. American University of Beirut, n.d.
Web. 25 Apr. 2016. <http://aub.edu.lb.libguides.com/Arabic-comic-
Samīr. al-Qāhirah: Dār al-Hilāl, 1956. Print.
Bassiouney, Reem. Language and Identity in Modern Egypt.
Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, 2014. Internet resource.