Sunday, February 05, 2006

Suggested Reading -- and Fast! Arab Comic Strips

BTW, for anyone interested, I heartily suggest you immediately track down a copy online or anywhere of Arab Comic Strips: Politics of an Emerging Mass Culture by Allen Douglas & Fedwa Malti-Douglas (1994, Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis). This is an excellent illustrated 250+ page study of the emerging (circa early 1990s) comics of all genres from the Arab world and Islamic comics, and more relevent now than ever before.

Other recommended reading:

* Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Villifies a People by Jack G. Shaheen (2001, Olive Branch Press/Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., New York/Northampton, MA); a definitive, comprehensive and frankly astounding overview of the ongoing American pop cultural defamation of Islamic culture via the pervasive archetype of Arab villainy, with a 500-pg. annotated filmography (!!!) of such stereotypes film-by-film from A to Z. An essential work, highly recommended (shelved in my library alongside The Yellow Peril: Chinese Americans in American Fiction, 1850-1940 by William F. Wu and Reel Jewish: A Century of Jewish Movies by Joel Samberg, and an entire bookshelf of books on Black/African/African-American culture & archetypes in the pop culture. The sword of stereotype and outrage cuts many, many ways and has countless sharp edges.)

* Followups to Arab Comic Strips well worth seeking:

- John A. Lent's article "The Horrors of Cartooning in Slim's Algeria" in International Journal of Comic Art (hereafter IJOCA) Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring/Summer 1999 (pp. 150-155); interview with cartoonist 'Slim' (Menouar Merabtene) on his work, career, and reasons for leaving Algeria to live in France due to the danger his cartooning presented to his life (he notes, "Journalists are not free in Algeria... I have risks; my Algerian journalist friends have many risks. More than 60 journalists have been killed, two or three foreign journalists, and two cartoonists..."). As with all the following articles, excellent and informative reading, providing quite a context for the current debacle.

- "Islamic "Classics Illustrated": Regendering Medieval Philosophy in a Modern Tunesian Strip" by Allen Douglas & Fedwa Malti-Douglas (pp. 98-106) and the historically relevent "The City and Housing in Turkish Cartoons" by Turgut Ceviker (pp. 127-131), both in IJOCA Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1999.

Also, this just in from my longtime amigo and cartoonist extraordinaire Rick Veitch, to add to the brew:

"Also, I'm sure you are following the firestorm over those Danish
cartoons depicting Mohammed (a SPLASH story if ever there was one).
Found this interesting bit in The Independent that indicates there are provocateurs on both sides:"

'In the autumn, events began to move beyond Denmark, albeit unnoticed by Western media. On 14 November, there were protests in Islamabad, Pakistan. And, at some point (the timing is unclear), imams went to the Middle East to lobby leaders there, taking with them the cartoons, reportedly supplemented by far more inflammatory, but mysteriously unsourced, cartoons showing the prophet in acts of bestiality and paedophilia.'

Whew -- oh, man, this is getting increasingly convoluted. The full story Rick cites is
  • here.

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