Soha Elsirgany writes about Garage, a new venture in the world of Egyptian comics. The comic will showcase artists from around the Arab world. The brothers who started the project, Mohamed and Haitham Rafaat, also started Kawkab El-Rasameen (“Planet of Artists”) in 2014.

The twins are currently working on the Cairo Comix festival, to be held on 30 September, with Shennawy, the creator of Tok Tok comic, and Maged El-Shafey, of the award-winning Metro magazine.

“Preparing for this festival we felt there are so many great artists who are unknown that we wanted to help showcase. We began the project of what is now Garage in November 2014, providing a platform for artists and scriptwriters,” Raafat says.

Under Kawkab El-Rasameen, the twins worked together with around 20 artists in workshops for drawing, and a special focus on scriptwriting and story development.

The magazine has also been featured in Design Indaba: “Garage is the work of a mix of “underground and advanced artists,” says Haitham. The contributors are not just from Egypt, but also from Syria and Jordan. “We have comic artists Mohamed Wahba, Doaa el Adl, Tawfig and Farid Nagy from Egypt; Flyin’ Dutchman from Jordan; and Ammar Khattab from Syria. In the next issue we plan to have artists from Germany and Lebannon.”

See the promo here:

The comics/graphic novel scene in the Arab world has been booming. This year’s Shubbak festival had a panel on the subject, featuring

Lena Merhej, co-founder of the Samandal collective in Lebanon, Anwar Mohamed, Egyptian cartoonist and contributor to comic magazine Tok-Tok, Egyptian political cartoonist Tarek Shahin and Libyan-British manga-influenced comic writer and artist, Asia Alfasi.

The increasing number of new comics has been accompanied by an interest in studying the history of the form in the Arab world academically, from comics like “Samir, Lulu and Mickey Geeb (Pocket-sized Mickey)” to “Arabic translations of Tintin, Superman and Asterix and Obelix.” The program, by the American University of Beirut, was set up to “study, archiving and promotion of Arab comic art. Named after its biggest donor, the Mu’taz and Rada Sawwaf Arabic Comics Initiative will also hold an annual conference to promote the artistic field and sponsor the Mahmoud Kahil Awards to highlight emerging creative talent in the field.”

Also see Comics Gate (Arabic).

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