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Early Comics and Juvenile Literature

Today's Arab comics, addressed to both small and grown-up children, had their precursors in a more didactic genre, better described as the early juvenile press, which was published in the early 20th Century, mostly in Egypt. In an effort to win over an initially reluctant audience, and to get parents on board, most of these serialized juvenile magazines often featured didactic stories and "educational" material. Much of the content and aesthetics of this early juvenile press was inspired and influenced by the work of famous children story writer, Kamil el Kilani, who adorned his children’s stories with beautiful drawings. Popular early juvenile press titles included al-Awlad (1922, owner, Iskandar Makarius, also editor of al-Lataif al-Musawarah), al-Nunu (1924, ed. Jamael Eddine Hafez Awad), al-Bulbul (ed. famous feminist Durriyah Shafiq who also published the Magazine Bint al-Nil), Baba Sharo (1949, edited by Mohammad Mahmoud Sha’ban, aka Baba Sharo), and al-Katkut (1947, ed. by Durriyah Shafiq). The quality of the content and artistic level and techniques of these early magazines varied widely, a fact that Mohieddine al-Labbad, a prolific and influential illustrator and book artist, recalls in an interview:

 فيذلكالعمر،كنتأتابعمجلاتالأطفالالمتاحةوكثيراماكانتتحبطتوقعاتيمنها. وكنتأستطيعبشكلماأنأشعربالفروقبينوسائلطباعتهلالمختلفة: البلبلكانتبالروتوغرافور،والكتكوتكانتفيطباعةأوفستبدائية. أمامجلةباباشاروالتيصدرتبقصصزجليةلبيرمالتونسيورسوملبرنيفيقطعكبيروبالألوانالأربعةفقدكانتأنظفوأكثرإحكاماً

[Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, No. 27, Childhood: Creativity and Representation / الطفولة: بين ﺍﻹﺑﺪﺍﻉ والتلقي‎ (2007)]