Robot 6

Comics: More dangerous than mere words

Metropolitan Books has plans to publish Magdy Al-Shafei’s graphic novel Metro, which was slated to be published in 2008 by the Egyptian publisher Malameh but fell victim to state censorship: The Egyptian police broke into the publisher’s office, confiscated the book, and arrested Al-Shafei and publisher Mohammed Al-Sharkawi. The book had run afoul of the Mubarak-era’s strict censorship rules because it portrayed homosexuality and portrayed the Egyptian police in a negative light. Here’s the key quote:

The attorney who filed the complaint against Metro, Saleh al-Derbashy, told al-Ahram Online that despite those topics being present and accepted in regular literature, their graphic depiction renders the book “dangerous” and “disturbing to public morals.”

That’s certainly an attitude one hears expressed about sex and violence in graphic novels, especially by self-appointed gatekeepers for the young, but it’s the first time I have heard it applied to political discourse. Are political comics really more dangerous than political literature?


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Hey, just to toot our own horn, for anyone interested in El Shaffee’s work the release party for World War 3 Illustrated #42: Tahrir, cover by Magdy El Shaffee and featuring Magdy’s seven-page comic from the Egyptian revolution, and his English-language print debut, will be Friday, November 18 at the 6th Street Community Center in NYC. More details here:

The issue also has art from Mazen Kerbaj, Malik Sajad and a panoply of political cartoonists….

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