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Two Early Jewels from Egypt: the birth of Arab Comics as we know them

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مجلة سندباد – العدد 7 – مصر: دار المعارف، 1952

To many Arab readers and historians, Arab comics as a genre really came of age in the 50s in Egypt, with the publishing of Sindibad and Samir in a serialized form. A talented crew of illustrators and writers came together to produce cutting edge illustrations, and well-constructed narratives, thus marking the birth of Arab comics as a grassroots genre – produced by Arabs for Arabs. Two publishing houses, Dar el-Maarif and Dar el-Hilal led these efforts: the former took the lead by putting out Sindibad in 1952, while Dar el-Hilal followed suit shortly thereafter, publishing in 1956 a magazine that will go on to play a formative role on the outlook, aspirations, and "Building" of an entire generation of Arabs: the Samir Comics Magazine, for "children aged 8 to 88", was an incubator and mouth piece for Arab Nationalism, addressed to all Arab children.







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غلاف مجلة سمير – العدد 453 - تهامي – مصر: دار الهلال، 1964

Sindibad and Samir changed the world of Arab comics and illustration at large, etching into their readers’ imagination the aesthetics of Arab modernity. They successfully created an intellectual and artistic discourse, reaching out to the growing generation of Arab children, and affording them a rare mental platform where they had the opportunity to experience a sense of wonder at the world, of common binding heritage, cultural references, dreams and aspirations. Samir also played a defining role on the level of setting and expressing new aesthetic standards and outlooks, ones more attuned to the modernity that was sweeping the region and the nascent Arab Nations.

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غلاف مجلة سمير – العدد 433 - تهامي – مصر: دار الهلال، 1964

Indeed, they constituted a real defining moment that shaped both the visual artistic culture and the reading habits and intellectual formation of an entire generation of young readers. Many of Sindibad's followers as well as creators would go on a few years later to found, write in and/or illustrate Samir's magazine, which carried on the defining legacy of Sindibad.