Comic craze hits Cairo

Comic book fans holding their copies of the latest edition of the TokTok comic formed a long queue at a theatre in the Egyptian capital of Cairo recently, to get their copies signed by the artists.

According to cartoonist and founder of TokTok, Mohammed Shennawy, the arrest of comic book artist Magdy el-Shafee in 2009 catapulted the comic book phenomenon in Egypt to what it enjoys today. He said Shafee’s Metro was banned because certain parts of it mocked the government. Cartoonists then realized the potential these books had and that readers were interested in learning about local issues.

The style of TokTok is influenced by Franco-Belgian “bande dessinee” style of comic strip which deals with topics more realistically than its North American counterpart.

According to another cartoonist, Gomaa Farhat, caricatures actually date back to pharonic times, with images drawn on papyrus. He says cartoons are important in depicting issues at a smaller, more humorous scale which Egyptians appreciate.

The country has observed a spike in comic book production over the past year, with three publications launched last year.

After the January 25th revolution, artists believe that they are now better able to express themselves, even if indirectly, as long as their message gets across.

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