"Portfolio: An Encounter with Andeel"

San Francisco had Robert Crumb and counterculture comix. Cairo has Tok Tok"the street level satirical magazine," in scholar Paul Gravett’s words. Tok Tok is more Crumb than Crumb. It’s Krazy Kat and Mad Magazine and Paul Conrad and Spiegelman wrapped into one—with a large, young fan base eager for the next issue. 

In the book Comic ArtGravett places Egypt’s premier comic zine in the category of “Unheard Voices,” dissenting illustrations that regimes fear. He quotes Tok Tok co-founder Mohammed Shennawy as saying, “Even if an artist in Tok Tok has his own point of view and his way of telling a story, we’re all trying to document the current period in drawings, words and comics…” Documentation: that is the key to understanding the varied and vast content of Tok Tok’s twelve issues since January 2011.

Whether their narratives are real or unreal, the artists are documenting a Cairo of their experience. More than an experiment in political activism or comic journalism, Tok Tok is the mingling of myriad artists’ divergent visions, a scrapbook that avoids the traps of nostalgia. 

Shennawy convened Cairo comic fans on Thursday, launching the latest issue in a conversation with cartoonist Andeel. The event packed Townhouse gallery’s factory space, in downtown, a block from the cafe where the cartoonists hang out. The new issue features tales of a silly sultan, talking fish, boxers, mermaids, terrorists, and clowns—all in vivid color, handsomely arranged by Shennawy who has a speculator eye for lay out. In Shennawy’s strip on the inside cover of the new issue. ISIS militants behead an Egyptian protagonist.

Andeel sat in the red spotlight. Over a hundred fans waited patiently for the “encounter,” notepads and iPhone cameras ready. Shennawy skipped the honorifics and jumped into an informal chat with the 27-year-old cartoonist. It was like sitting on the couch at his apartment, clicking through his portfolio of strips and panels. Shennawy paused to grab a cigarette.

Andeel talked bluntly about censorship, giving examples of before and after a newspaper editor had taken a pen to the artist’s naughty language. Andeel was warm, irreverent, and jovial. When he employed a swear word, his mother, who sat in the front row, laughed along with the rest of the audience.

Tok Tok #12’s centerfold is a poster of President Abdelfattah El-Sisi, drawn by Andeel, who was one of the first cartoonists to lampoon the fearless leader. In the poster, a yes-man loses his cool with the distant leader who dreams of a simpler country. That image of the aloof president also graces the back cover.

Tok Tok #12, Back and Front, Drawn by Andeel

**

For the front, Andeel drew two very different young Egyptians engaging in conversation: a traditional guy and a hipster actually seem to be listening to one another. In a country that far too many commentators have called “polarized,” the issue’s front is just as subversive as its back.

Political comics in Egypt are only getting bolder, even as difficult red lines dictate what’s published in the mainstream Egyptian press. Cartoonists have responded by publishing incredibly popular comic books that are now on sale in bookstores across Egypt’s capital. Rather than simply relying on Facebook as their outlet, Andeel, Shenawwy and others have created something new. Tok Tok is a singular, independent voice in a cacophonous publishing world of vapid content. I’m almost certain that the Arabic zine will have a “radicalizing effect,” much like Mad had fifty years ago.

More posts on Tok Tok here here here here here and here.

I think that political cartoonists are caused by social upheaval. I would have been a medical illustrator, as I was, had it not been for Vietnam and then Watergate.

Tony Auth (1942-2014), in conversation with Terry Gross, Fresh Air, 1988.

ISIS Barber
"Pardon me, chief… has my head rolled through here?"
You might find this cartoon distasteful. The Egyptian cartoonist Abdallah drew the gag for Sunday’s edition of the privately-owned Al-Masry Al-Youm. He emphasizes the absurdity of ISIS executions, with the irreverence that befits the trouble-making art form. Many illustrators have lampooned the Islamic State in their daily frames, but this cartoon goes much farther.
Is the cartoonist saying that beheadings are so ubiquitous that heads are rolling in the streets? Would a Western newspaper publish this cartoon? Should gruesome topics, like beheadings, be off limits for artists?
Is the deployment of symbolic violence against ISIS the most effective method of countering the extremist group’s ideology?

"I’m getting married Monday… Can you cut off this head… and fix it to this body?"
Abdallah / Al-Masry Al-Youm / 7 September 2014
***
Related Posts
—Joking about Syria: Are there topics that mustn’t be joked about?
—Good Morning, Iraq: Selection of new cartoons from Iraq
—Iraq’s Tug of War: Vintage cartoons from Iraq

ISIS Barber

"Pardon me, chief… has my head rolled through here?"

You might find this cartoon distasteful. The Egyptian cartoonist Abdallah drew the gag for Sunday’s edition of the privately-owned Al-Masry Al-Youm. He emphasizes the absurdity of ISIS executions, with the irreverence that befits the trouble-making art form. Many illustrators have lampooned the Islamic State in their daily frames, but this cartoon goes much farther.

Is the cartoonist saying that beheadings are so ubiquitous that heads are rolling in the streets? Would a Western newspaper publish this cartoon? Should gruesome topics, like beheadings, be off limits for artists?

Is the deployment of symbolic violence against ISIS the most effective method of countering the extremist group’s ideology?

"I’m getting married Monday… Can you cut off this head… and fix it to this body?"

Abdallah / Al-Masry Al-Youm / 7 September 2014

***

Related Posts

Joking about Syria: Are there topics that mustn’t be joked about?

Good Morning, Iraq: Selection of new cartoons from Iraq

Iraq’s Tug of War: Vintage cartoons from Iraq

The American University of Beirut is launching a new comics studies initiative.

Comics strips have arrived at the American University of Beirut, thanks to the Mu’taz and Rada Sawwaf Arabic Comics Initiative, which will provide opportunities for the academic research and promotion of Arabic comics.

With a five-year pledge from the Sawwaf family, the initiative, which will be under the direct authority of the University Provost, will help AUB promote the research, teaching, and production of Arabic comics, and develop and maintain a repository of Arabic comics literature.

Associate Professor Lina Ghaibeh will direct the new initiative. An animator herself, Ghaibeh has taught courses on 3D modeling, illustration, urban graffiti, and more. Her recent lecture, “Propaganda in Comics in the Arab World,” is worth watching:

"September" by Hefnawy, from Tok Tok's 2014 calendar. 
For those who aren’t familiar with Tok Tok:

In the tumultuous three years since the Tahrir Square uprising, a number of young Egyptian cartoonists have persevered to defend a crack of space for free expression and dissent. Among their favorite slings: Tok Tok, an alt-comic magazine.
Tok Tok is more preoccupied with the country’s social issues than with the politicians of the day. Its narratives range from wordless strips on corrupt government officials and businessmen, to the misadventures of an antihero combating sexual harassment. The quarterly’s illustrations depict an Egypt largely absent in the mainstream press—downtown street corners, packed minibuses, cramped apartments, and daily addictions such as coffee or hashish. The artists challenge readers to attune themselves to the city life around them. Variously drawing on the aesthetics of Mad Magazine and Walt Disney, noir film and street art, Tok Tok captures Cairo’s grit, and is always penned in colloquial dialects. Mohammed Andeel, one of the magazine’s five co-founders, who goes only by his last name in the tradition of Egyptian cartoonists, calls Tok Tok  “an answer to censorship.”

Continue reading my profile of the comic revolutionaries in the Winter 2014 issue of the Cairo Review of Global Affairs.
More posts on Tok Tok here here here here here and here.

"September" by Hefnawy, from Tok Tok's 2014 calendar

For those who aren’t familiar with Tok Tok:

In the tumultuous three years since the Tahrir Square uprising, a number of young Egyptian cartoonists have persevered to defend a crack of space for free expression and dissent. Among their favorite slings: Tok Tok, an alt-comic magazine.

Tok Tok is more preoccupied with the country’s social issues than with the politicians of the day. Its narratives range from wordless strips on corrupt government officials and businessmen, to the misadventures of an antihero combating sexual harassment. The quarterly’s illustrations depict an Egypt largely absent in the mainstream press—downtown street corners, packed minibuses, cramped apartments, and daily addictions such as coffee or hashish. The artists challenge readers to attune themselves to the city life around them. Variously drawing on the aesthetics of Mad Magazine and Walt Disney, noir film and street art, Tok Tok captures Cairo’s grit, and is always penned in colloquial dialects. Mohammed Andeel, one of the magazine’s five co-founders, who goes only by his last name in the tradition of Egyptian cartoonists, calls Tok Tok  “an answer to censorship.”

Continue reading my profile of the comic revolutionaries in the Winter 2014 issue of the Cairo Review of Global Affairs.

More posts on Tok Tok here here here here here and here.

From my recent essay in The Paris Review Daily, in which I uncover links between vintage Arabic noirs and contemporary graphic novels in Egypt:

[A] modern-day equivalent of pulp is the graphic novel—an emerging medium that illustrates the divey corners that sleuths and skirts frequented a half century ago. Metro, by Magdy El-Shafee, is known as the original Arabic adult comic book, and it’s a kind of Cairo noir: on the first page, a beleaguered young computer programmer decides to rob a bank. When it was first published in 2007, Egyptian authorities seized all copies from the publisher, though the reason remains a mystery. Was it the narrator’s harsh antiregime attitude, his use of nudity and expletives, or the publisher’s activist reputation? The book was republished in Cairo after Hosni Mubarak took a fall, but it’s still hard to find in Arabic. (It’s on sale worldwide in translation.)
Whatever the reason for the comic’s censorship, its notoriety provoked other young artists to engage with noir aesthetics in telling contemporary stories of depravity. Ganzeer, the pseudonym of a thirty-two-year-old graphic artist whose art installations and graffiti are landmarks in Cairo and elsewhere, is inspired by Metro’s antihero. “Of course you could relate to someone opposing the government, opposing the police, more so than you can relate to this idea of a noble police officer who has to solve crimes for the greater good,” Ganzeer has said. This is the common thread between the new graphic novels and noirs of old: don’t trust the law.

Continue reading.


Detail from Ganzeer’s illustration / The Apartment in Bab El-Louk, by Donia Maher, Ganzeer, Ahmed Nady, 2014.

From my recent essay in The Paris Review Daily, in which I uncover links between vintage Arabic noirs and contemporary graphic novels in Egypt:

[A] modern-day equivalent of pulp is the graphic novel—an emerging medium that illustrates the divey corners that sleuths and skirts frequented a half century ago. Metro, by Magdy El-Shafee, is known as the original Arabic adult comic book, and it’s a kind of Cairo noir: on the first page, a beleaguered young computer programmer decides to rob a bank. When it was first published in 2007, Egyptian authorities seized all copies from the publisher, though the reason remains a mystery. Was it the narrator’s harsh antiregime attitude, his use of nudity and expletives, or the publisher’s activist reputation? The book was republished in Cairo after Hosni Mubarak took a fall, but it’s still hard to find in Arabic. (It’s on sale worldwide in translation.)

Whatever the reason for the comic’s censorship, its notoriety provoked other young artists to engage with noir aesthetics in telling contemporary stories of depravity. Ganzeer, the pseudonym of a thirty-two-year-old graphic artist whose art installations and graffiti are landmarks in Cairo and elsewhere, is inspired by Metro’s antihero. “Of course you could relate to someone opposing the government, opposing the police, more so than you can relate to this idea of a noble police officer who has to solve crimes for the greater good,” Ganzeer has said. This is the common thread between the new graphic novels and noirs of old: don’t trust the law.

Continue reading.

Detail from Ganzeer’s illustration / The Apartment in Bab El-Louk, by Donia Maher, Ganzeer, Ahmed Nady, 2014.

Unlike regular reading, which induces blindness in the reader, comics bring together the half-awake “night and day” of seeing and remembering directly on the page.

Chris Ware, The Art of Comics No. 2, The Paris Review

Detail from “Ruin your life—draw cartoons!” / Chris Ware

Each year, the Cartoonists Rights Network International honors artists that persevere in the face of danger and censorship. This year’s awardees are in…

A thousand congratulations to Palestinian illustrator Majda Shaheen, a 2014 winner of the Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning, along with Indian cartoonist Kanika Mishra.

Some background, via Al-Monitor

A controversy erupted Jan. 22 when artist Majida Shaheen drew and published a cartoon on her Facebook page depicting Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh trying to tame an angry dog with the name “Al-Quds Brigades” — the military wing of Islamic Jihad — written on its collar. The cartoon is an allusion to the attempts of the Gaza government to prevent resistance factions from launching rockets against Israel.

Majda Shaheen’s cartoon of of Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The devilish dog is labeled “Al-Quds Brigades.” Facebook / Jan. 23, 2014

theparisreview:

“This is the common thread between the new graphic novels and noirs of old: don’t trust the law.”
Jonathan Guyer on the resurgence of crime novels in contemporary Egypt.

theparisreview:

“This is the common thread between the new graphic novels and noirs of old: don’t trust the law.”

Jonathan Guyer on the resurgence of crime novels in contemporary Egypt.

A New History and a Timeless Debate
Last night I attended a launch for a new book by Egyptian scholar Rania Saleh, The Political Cartoon: From the Al-Orabi Revolution to the January 25 Revolution. Saleh, who has published widely on the history of Egyptian caricature, introduces her book with an interesting argument: comics can be traced to hieroglyphics.
This volume represents the first attempt to narrate a comprehensive history of the trouble-making art form in Egypt. Dozens and dozens of Arabic cartoon monographs are out there. But Saleh has conducted extensive interviews and archival work in order to trace the medium’s development.
The event itself was—dare I say—comic. As the 69-year-old cartoonist Tag, pictured second from the right above, offered a personal account of cartoon history, the power went out. Even the upmarket bookstore, Al-Kotob Khan, is not immune from the country’s rampant power outs. Thirty of us continued sitting in the hot darkness, as the nedwa (or salon, in English) proceeded.
"I don’t like cartoonists these days," said Tag. He lambasted the new generation for producing work that’s irrelevant to the country.
In particular, Tag criticized young Egyptians for not drawing the new Suez Canal project, President Al-Sisi’s major infrastructure scheme. “This is something big in the history of Egypt,” emphasized Tag. “But where are the cartoons?” Gomaa Ferhat, 73, chimed in, saying that he had drawn a cartoon on Suez for the state newspaper Al-Ahram. 
This raises a major question that has been front and center since the 2011 uprising: Should cartoonists follow their editors’ visions and draw what they’re told? Or should they be fully independent?
In fact, this has been an ongoing debate in the world of Egyptian caricature for nearly a century. Roz El-Yusef newspaper, which started publishing cartoons in 1925, has provided the space for independent illustrators. Al-Akhbar, a state-owned newspaper, has tended to pair cartoonists with writers, who act as scriptwriters. Both schools of caricature persist in Egypt. Though Tag comes from the Roz El-Yusef school, where cartoonists were given free reign, he seems to have migrated to the other camp.
I’m excited to read through Saleh’s book and see how she addresses this great debate—though the book is 521 pages and contains scores of comics, so I will be back to you with a review in due time.

The Political Cartoon: From the Al-Orabi Revolution to the January 25 Revolution, by Rania Saleh, 2014.

A New History and a Timeless Debate

Last night I attended a launch for a new book by Egyptian scholar Rania Saleh, The Political Cartoon: From the Al-Orabi Revolution to the January 25 Revolution. Saleh, who has published widely on the history of Egyptian caricature, introduces her book with an interesting argument: comics can be traced to hieroglyphics.

This volume represents the first attempt to narrate a comprehensive history of the trouble-making art form in Egypt. Dozens and dozens of Arabic cartoon monographs are out there. But Saleh has conducted extensive interviews and archival work in order to trace the medium’s development.

The event itself was—dare I say—comic. As the 69-year-old cartoonist Tag, pictured second from the right above, offered a personal account of cartoon history, the power went out. Even the upmarket bookstore, Al-Kotob Khan, is not immune from the country’s rampant power outs. Thirty of us continued sitting in the hot darkness, as the nedwa (or salon, in English) proceeded.

"I don’t like cartoonists these days," said Tag. He lambasted the new generation for producing work that’s irrelevant to the country.

In particular, Tag criticized young Egyptians for not drawing the new Suez Canal project, President Al-Sisi’s major infrastructure scheme. “This is something big in the history of Egypt,” emphasized Tag. “But where are the cartoons?” Gomaa Ferhat, 73, chimed in, saying that he had drawn a cartoon on Suez for the state newspaper Al-Ahram

This raises a major question that has been front and center since the 2011 uprising: Should cartoonists follow their editors’ visions and draw what they’re told? Or should they be fully independent?

In fact, this has been an ongoing debate in the world of Egyptian caricature for nearly a century. Roz El-Yusef newspaper, which started publishing cartoons in 1925, has provided the space for independent illustrators. Al-Akhbar, a state-owned newspaper, has tended to pair cartoonists with writers, who act as scriptwriters. Both schools of caricature persist in Egypt. Though Tag comes from the Roz El-Yusef school, where cartoonists were given free reign, he seems to have migrated to the other camp.

I’m excited to read through Saleh’s book and see how she addresses this great debate—though the book is 521 pages and contains scores of comics, so I will be back to you with a review in due time.

The Political Cartoon: From the Al-Orabi Revolution to the January 25 Revolution, by Rania Saleh, 2014.

"Then, every time I threaten a guy and tell him that I’m from the Helwan Armed Brigades—he just starts laughing and walks away, doc."
"Which brigade, again?" chuckles the shrink.
Anwar drew this gag cartoon for the Al-Masry Al-Youm, the popular independent daily. It’s a local joke.
On the couch, the terrorist character feels self-conscious and insignificant. He is just another guy from Helwan—the last stop on Cairo’s Metro. The Helwan Armed Brigades would intimidate a Cairene as much as the Staten Island Liberation Organization or the Coney Island Defense Front would startle a New Yorker. If you said you were from the Yonkers Militia, everyone would just laugh—right?
Cartoonists love to put their characters on the psychiatric couch. In booking a session for a terrorist—a goon, a masked thug, the other and enemy—the cartoonist engages in a kind of symbolic violence against the character. Isn’t that why Tony Soprano was such a breakthrough character? We could finally see the don at a vulnerable moment. 
Anwar sends a powerful message by finding a joke in the armed assailant, laughing at his psychological complexes. The government has centered its policy on counter-terrorism, pure and simple. Anwar, however, problematizes the notion of a terrorist. The gunman is just a regular, troubled dude from Helwan. Maybe all he needs is counseling. It reminded me of Saudi terrorist rehabilitation centers, though Egypt doesn’t boast any, as far as I’m aware.
In gags about psychiatrists, Egyptians are using the form to convey subversive punchlines. Last summer, Andeel used the same technique and offered a psychoanalysis of the Muslim Brotherhood’s head honcho. Like the cartoon above, it was a way to shine a light on the shady and shadowy organization.
Something to watch for: does any cartoonist have the gall to draw President Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi working through his issues beside a box of kleenex?


“Sometimes, I suspect that I’m a state security agent, implanted inside the Brotherhood to screw it up,” the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader tells his shrink despondently. 
Andeel, Supreme Guide Seeks Guidance, July 2013
**
Special thanks to Sharaf Al-Harouni for translation help. Follow him on Twitter.

"Then, every time I threaten a guy and tell him that I’m from the Helwan Armed Brigades—he just starts laughing and walks away, doc."

"Which brigade, again?" chuckles the shrink.

Anwar drew this gag cartoon for the Al-Masry Al-Youm, the popular independent daily. It’s a local joke.

On the couch, the terrorist character feels self-conscious and insignificant. He is just another guy from Helwan—the last stop on Cairo’s Metro. The Helwan Armed Brigades would intimidate a Cairene as much as the Staten Island Liberation Organization or the Coney Island Defense Front would startle a New Yorker. If you said you were from the Yonkers Militia, everyone would just laugh—right?

Cartoonists love to put their characters on the psychiatric couch. In booking a session for a terrorist—a goon, a masked thug, the other and enemy—the cartoonist engages in a kind of symbolic violence against the character. Isn’t that why Tony Soprano was such a breakthrough character? We could finally see the don at a vulnerable moment. 

Anwar sends a powerful message by finding a joke in the armed assailant, laughing at his psychological complexes. The government has centered its policy on counter-terrorism, pure and simple. Anwar, however, problematizes the notion of a terrorist. The gunman is just a regular, troubled dude from Helwan. Maybe all he needs is counseling. It reminded me of Saudi terrorist rehabilitation centers, though Egypt doesn’t boast any, as far as I’m aware.

In gags about psychiatrists, Egyptians are using the form to convey subversive punchlines. Last summer, Andeel used the same technique and offered a psychoanalysis of the Muslim Brotherhood’s head honcho. Like the cartoon above, it was a way to shine a light on the shady and shadowy organization.

Something to watch for: does any cartoonist have the gall to draw President Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi working through his issues beside a box of kleenex?

Sometimes, I suspect that I’m a state security agent, implanted inside the Brotherhood to screw it up,” the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader tells his shrink despondently. 

Andeel, Supreme Guide Seeks Guidance, July 2013

**

Special thanks to Sharaf Al-Harouni for translation help. Follow him on Twitter.

Boss Tweed on the Nile

New post on EgyptSource, the Atlantic Council’s blog:

Last week, the privately-owned and widely-circulated Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm published three political cartoons about corruption in a single day. It’s not unusual to print so many illustrations in one edition; the paper sometimes publishes a dozen comics in a day. But what can we make of three independent cartoonists devoting their frame to criticizing Big Money? 

Keep reading.

Cartoonists on Cartoonists
Ahmed Saad, an Egyptian comic artist and contributor to the zine Tok Tok, drew this parody of the classic Egyptian cartoon. He satirizes the style of prominent state-newspaper cartoonist Mostafa Houssein and the use of lofty symbols to convey Egypt’s political machinations.
In Saad’s gag, the woman personifying Egypt says, "You are not my son, and I don’t know you!" to the young revolutionary, labeled "Free." (For more on Egypt as a woman, read this post.)
Colored childishly in marker, Saad critiques the simplicity of Houssein’s imagery. He published it online in advance of May’s presidential election, as Houssein was churning out metaphorical mishmashes for the semi-official daily Al-Akhbar. For instance, here is Houssein cartooning in May, using the very imagery that Saad laughs at.

"Terrorist Attempts to Block Elections," though Egypt votes anyway.
Mostafa Houssein / Al-Akhbar / 21 May 2014
**
As we see above, the lexicon of Egyptian symbols can be deployed by cartoonists to interpret current events or to problematize them. In Houssein’s cartoons, good and bad are always clear; terrorists are labeled. But Egypt’s realities are anything but a simple binary. Saad exposes the naiveté of over-used symbols and tropes. In his illustration, Egypt is not “free,” In fact, she stands in opposition to the free, disowning the revolution. The “free” are fiery hot, a very obvious pun, and another jab at traditional caricature’s simplicity.
With lines reminiscent of Matt Groening, Saad is better known for his comic strips. He doesn’t usually delve into the one-frame political cartoon. After mulling over his cartoon, I am left asking myself: Is the realm of politics too ambiguous and illegible to be represented in an editorial cartoon? Is the art form no longer relevant?
-

"Is someone sitting there?"
Ahmed Saad / Facebook / undated

Cartoonists on Cartoonists

Ahmed Saad, an Egyptian comic artist and contributor to the zine Tok Tok, drew this parody of the classic Egyptian cartoon. He satirizes the style of prominent state-newspaper cartoonist Mostafa Houssein and the use of lofty symbols to convey Egypt’s political machinations.

In Saad’s gag, the woman personifying Egypt says, "You are not my son, and I don’t know you!" to the young revolutionary, labeled "Free." (For more on Egypt as a woman, read this post.)

Colored childishly in marker, Saad critiques the simplicity of Houssein’s imagery. He published it online in advance of May’s presidential election, as Houssein was churning out metaphorical mishmashes for the semi-official daily Al-Akhbar. For instance, here is Houssein cartooning in May, using the very imagery that Saad laughs at.

"Terrorist Attempts to Block Elections," though Egypt votes anyway.

Mostafa Houssein / Al-Akhbar / 21 May 2014

**

As we see above, the lexicon of Egyptian symbols can be deployed by cartoonists to interpret current events or to problematize them. In Houssein’s cartoons, good and bad are always clear; terrorists are labeled. But Egypt’s realities are anything but a simple binary. Saad exposes the naiveté of over-used symbols and tropes. In his illustration, Egypt is not “free,” In fact, she stands in opposition to the free, disowning the revolution. The “free” are fiery hot, a very obvious pun, and another jab at traditional caricature’s simplicity.

With lines reminiscent of Matt Groening, Saad is better known for his comic strips. He doesn’t usually delve into the one-frame political cartoon. After mulling over his cartoon, I am left asking myself: Is the realm of politics too ambiguous and illegible to be represented in an editorial cartoon? Is the art form no longer relevant?

-

"Is someone sitting there?"

Ahmed Saad / Facebook / undated

New York-based photographer Benedict Evans has just published a series of portraits of Egyptian political cartoonists. In A Thousand Words, Evans captures the diversity of the field. From his statement:

Political caricature plays a far more vital role in popular culture and the perception of current events in Egypt than it currently does in the West. Cartoons are given prime real estate in newspapers across the country, both state- and independently-owned, and the most respected satiric voices are household names… 

Pictured here are many of Egypt’s most well known caricaturists. Most are from the new, younger generation, but also pictured are some of the key members of the older generation, whose work and mentorships paved the way for the new voices. Each cartoonist has a different background and a particular political standpoint; some work for daily newspapers, some distribute their work mainly online, some do both, but all of them are actively engaged in the course of their country’s future at a time when it is perhaps more in question than it has ever been, and are using a medium that resonates strongly with the Egyptian mindset.

Check out the gallery in full. Indeed, Evans’s photographs are about thousand-times better than mine.

**

benedictevansphoto:

I’ve just updated my site with a new series called A Thousand Words. It’s a series of portraits of Egyptian political cartoonists who I photographed in Cairo, Egypt, back at the beginning of this year. The whole series, and more information about the cartoonists, is now on my site here.

Huge, huge, thanks to Jenifer Evans, Mariam Dwedar, and Andeel, without whom these pictures would never have been made.

Bombs Over _____ 
From an old Moleskin of mine, circa fall 2004.

Bombs Over _____ 

From an old Moleskin of mine, circa fall 2004.

Caricature & Comics
From Egypt,
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