Friday, June 10, 2005

Middle Eastern Super-Hero Comics

Via NeilAlien, an article on AK Comics' Middle Eastern super-hero comic books:

While the [Egyptian] company says it only wanted to fill an ethnicity gap in the comic-book market, it's ended up also challenging gender roles in the region by drawing butt-kicking female leads. Plans to first introduce their characters to the rest of the Middle East hit a snag recently when censors in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait said that while AK Comics' two crime-fighting male superheroes were a welcome change, Jalila and the company's other female character, Aya, a North African Princess of Darkness, were unwelcome.Aya, who's described as "a vixen who roams the region on her supercharged motorbike confronting crime wherever it rears its ugly head," might have been particularly shocking to readers in Saudi Arabia, where women aren't allowed to drive.

A couple of things I find interesting:

(1) The comics are actually drawn by Brazilian artists, who would have liked to make the comics "much racier." I wonder if this is because it's cheaper to farm the work out to Brazilians, or if there're just not many Egyptians who can draw in this style, or if there're just not that many Egyptians who want to draw in this style. I try to keep up with the news about political cartoonist who have been jailed in North Africa and the Middle East, and I have about a half-dozen CDs of Arabic pop music, but I really don't know much at all about Egyptian pop culture, in general.

(2) Supposedly, 40% of AK Comics' readership is female. In America, the super-hero comics audience is predominantly male, and many women are offended by the way that super-hero artists draw female characters (and sensitive male super-hero fans tend to be embarrassed by these kinds of "cheesecake" depictions). I wonder if in Egypt, though, it's more of a case of "You Takes What You Gets": here in America, there's enough pop culture that caters to women that they don't have to piggyback on nerdy, adolescent male fantasies.

Here's another article (from last December) about AK Comics that includes an interview with its founder, Ayman Kandeel, an Egyptian economics professor (proving, I guess, that nerdom knows no ethnic boundaries). And here's AK Comics English website, where you can find previews of their comics. (They look pretty much like American super-hero comics).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I went toEgypt and I read a comic book. It was called Snow white and the sever dwarfs. It was backwards.