AUB Libraries Online Exhibits



مجلتي العدد 38، النصر والسلام – بغداد: دار ثقافة الأطفال، 1989

In this Iraqi state sponsored comics magazine, Majallati, the featured issue commemorates the end of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), and publishes a board game entitled “Peace and Victory”. The board game casts  the war as a story of brave self-defense and unabated triumph on the side of the Iraqis, a story that culminates in victory, visualized by the image of Saddam Hussein himself, as the triumphal embodiment of final peace. 

8 WAR.jpg

غلاف مجلة المزمار – العدد 2 – السنة العاشرة – العراق، بغداد: دار ثقافة الأطفال، 1980

Here again, we witness the use of comics as a tool in building the political imaginary of the State: other magazines, such as al-Mizmar (Iraq) and Usama (Syrian Ministry of Culture) would also periodically feature the respective regimes’ perspective on wars and would contributed iconic images (of soldiers, of the leader, and otherwise) all put at the service of a carefully tailored discourse.

9 Oussama_war 1970.jpg

غلاف مجلة أسامة، العدد 192، السنة الثامنة، دمشق: وزارة الثقافة، 1977

سمير ديسمبر73024.jpg

غلاف مجلة سمير، العدد 922 – تهامي - القاهرة: دار الهلال، 1973

The 1973 October War, (Yom Kipur War), was a historical moment repeatedly celebrated and highlighted by several comics magazines in Egypt. In this cover page of Samir, an Egyptian soldier and his co-workers are crossing the Suez Canal on a magic carpet to retrieve Sinai, while chanting “We have crossed the imaginary barrier, Oh Sinai we have crossed!” Another interesting feature of the cover is that the Gaza Strip is featured as an annex to Sinai, as was the case prior to the 1967 war. Egypt would later negotiate the fate of the Strip in the ensuing Egyptian-Israeli secret negotiations at Camp David.

سمير نوفمبر73025.jpg

غلاف مجلة سمير، العدد 919 - تهامي – القاهرة: دار الهلال، 1973

In this November 1973 cover page, Samir holds an olive branch in the right hand, and a gun with the left, insinuating that war is always an option should peace fail. Meanwhile a group of his international friends chant: “I love peace, I love it as if it were my child. I awaken and sleep with the olive branch in my hand...” Fifteen years later, Yasser Arafat would stand in the United Nations General Assembly and sound a similar demand.  On December 13, 1988, Arafat addressed the UN General Assembly in the following terms: “Today I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter's gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat, do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.” The political mood was clearly shifting, and Arab comics were there to record, and even announce it!

سمير نوفمبر73027.jpg

مجلة سمير، العدد 917 -  جندي مصر - بهجت – القاهرة: دار الهلال، 1973 

Samir not only celebrated the 1973 war, but we can see here an example of how (part of ) the national mood was shifting in preparation for the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Agreement that was about to come. In this panel, we can see Samir contributing to the construction of a narrative that puts war at the service of the upcoming planned Peace Agreement, and the Government's marketing of the peace plan: now that the Egyptian national pride had been restored by retrieving Egyptian lands lost during the 1967 War, Egypt can afford to talk about and negotiate peace.

مربى ولبن 5.jpg

مرهج، ل. (2011). مربى ولبن. لبنان: السمندل

Depictions of war was not the exclusive turf of established regimes, and was not always confined to mere political propaganda; it often crossed that threshold to depict the real agony and tragedy of ordinary men and women, thrust onto war’s hell. Many contemporary comics artists, marginalized and underrepresented groups did repeatedly depict war as experienced from the perspective of the common man. These drawings and text reflect the daily toil and maneuvers, both at the logistical and psychological levels, that those living under the bombs are reduced or forced to adopt.  

7 هذه القصة تجري.jpg

كرباج، م. (2010). هذه القصة تجري: نشرت هذه المجموعة كاملة في جريدة الأخبار اللبنانية بين السبت 9 آب 2008 والجمعة 22 كانون الثاني 2010. بيروت: دار الآداب للنشر والتوزيع.