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Division Publishing: Egyptian Comics Strike Back

You probably have noticed by now that, here at Mashareeb, we love comics! At the beginning of this year, we have covered the launch of Tok Tok magazine (check it out here if you haven’t) and we are very happy to be covering yet another Egyptian comic magazine about to hit the shelves very soon!

We have always believed in the talent of Egyptians to create comics and luckily, as time passes by, Egyptian comic artists never disappoint us. We got very excited when we recently discovered  that some young Egyptian comic artists got together, with the dream of “jumpstarting and reinvigorating the comics market in Egypt” and formed a comic publishing house under the name of Division Publishing.

Division Publishing was created in early 2011 by Marwan Imam and Mohamed Reda with the mission to “get the Egyptian community to buy and read comics and appreciate the art and literature in them” and also “to encourage Egyptian artists and writers to submit their work and publish as many Egyptian comics as we can.”

The Division Publishing team is composed from Marwan Imam, Mohamed Reda, Mohamed Mazloum, Sarah Abdelazim, Gehad El Sheikh, Mohamed Khaled, Aamina, Tarek Abo Omar, Hatem Mahrous, Ahmed El Mojadidi, Salma Soliman & Tarek Diaa.

Their first publication is called “Autostrade” and will be launched on the 11th of july at Bikya Book Store in Nasr city at 7:30, be there if you would like to meet the creators and get a copy. (check out the Facebook event here)

cover art by Ganzeer

We were very fortunate to get a hold of one the founders, Marwan Imam, and got to know more about Division Publishing, Autostrade and the state of comics in Egypt in his point of view. Enjoy!


Give us a little idea about Division Comics, what is it about and what should people expect from its productions?

Marwan: Division Publishing, is a Comics publishing house that is dedicated to invigorating the comics market in Egypt as well as giving a chance to a large number of artists and writers to have a chance to have an outlet for their work. We embrace the concept of Comics as a medium not a Genre. We believe comics are versatile enough to contain topics of a vast diversity. To us comics are not just superheores, they’re not just for kids.Comics have been known to handle topics as heavy as The Iranian Revolution and The holocaust to other worldly lands of space and magic all the way to the gritty and sharp social satire the slaps the cold hard truth in the face of the reader. Comics are a literary medium that embraces both the power of the written word and combines it with the aesthetic of the visual image transcending both and reaching lengths no other medium can reach in these respects. With this in mind, we try as hard as possible to find as much diverse and mature content to produce to the public. Be it fiction or non-fiction, we try to show how diverse and powerful comics could be.We also encourage experimentation within the medium, pushing it forward, in hopes of meeting the international level of comics production spearheaded by The US, France (and Belgium) and Japan.

- How did you guys manage to form Division Comics and how did it all come to reality?

Marwan: It all came down to who we are really. I am a comic artist and writer, and I’ve been around a lot of people within the underground comic scene in Cairo, even worked with them on a couple of projects.However there was one thing that was always expressed with an air of unadulterated frustration, that was the fact that no matter how hard we work, it is nearly impossible to get our work published. Most publishers in Egypt consider comics to be mere children’s books and treat them with less respect than they most truly deserve.
Comic artists and writers were always frustrated that whenever they have a concept for a comic that is edgy or mature in terms of thought and content, they face rejection everywhere.
My great friend Mohamed Reda, a comic writer as well as enthusiast such as myself and I then decided that instead of going around to find somewhere to publish our work, we should publish our own work,and in the spirit of independence we decided to start our own publishing house to not just allows us to publish our work but to allow for every single artist and writer that faced the frustration we did to get a chance to finally get their work out there.

- What do you guys think of the state of Egyptian comics (past and present)?

Marwan: Right now, the state of comics as a market in Egypt is dwindling nearly non-existent; however there is a hunger that can be sensed in people that is dying to get their hands on a proper comic or two.Not to mention a current outburst of comic artists and writers working on several projects a couple of independent books have sprung up here and there, proving that we weren’t the only ones frustrated with the current state of comics.
In the past some efforts came up to try and build the comic market, yet it didn’t face enough success.I think this was purely because they treated comics very superficially copying what the west is doing without looking deeper into the core of this medium, or trying to find what our culture can add into the world of comics.
The biggest slap in the face of comics in Egypt though was Magdy el Shafee’s Graphic Novel metro that was banned by the government. El Shafee’s comic was probably one of the most compelling and mature contemporary graphic novels, and I’m talking on an international scale, because it recently has been reprinted in Italy with great popularity. It was a social comics highlighting many of the corruption withinEgypt, and the old regime banned it. This ban was probably the worst thing that could have happened,however it only made us stronger and passionate about creating more work and challenging thes ystem even more. Magdy is even contributing with a new story of his own in our upcoming publicationAutostrade.

- Do you think comics have a place in the Egyptian society? Does it have a future in Egypt?

Marwan: I honestly believe Egyptians invented comics.
This may sound crazy to some but the combination of pictorial and written elements in a sequential has debuted on the walls of Egyptian temples and tombs. These are the earliest of comics, perhaps preceded by cave drawings, but in Ancient Egypt it wasn’t just drawings, it was drawings conveying a certain message in a sequential manner while being juxtaposed with text. This is basically the definition of what a comic is.
This just proves one thing, Egyptians are genetically wired to create and accept comics as a leading medium of communication. Once society understands that comics are not a genre of children books buta medium of diverse genres that can carry mature subjects and be read by all ages, it will flourish like nowhere else on earth.
The amount of talent lying around in this country is overwhelming, I think we might have enough artistsand writers in Egypt to create a body of work in comics that is as big in size as the United States, and the only thing truly hindering us at the moment is the market. Once comics as a culture spread within the people the rest is just pure production.
People are hungry for something new; they just need to be pushed in the right direction. This is the time for a revolution in comics.

- Your first issue is called “Autostrade”, any stories behind the name selection?

Marwan: Yes actually, and thank you for asking. First of all we needed a name that transcends language since this is a bilingual publication as well as planned for international release. So Autostrade being a commonTerm in several language was a good choice. However this wasn’t the main reason we picked the name.The name refers to one of Cairo’s main highways, and it generally refers to highways elsewhere in the world, and that’s exactly what this publication is about. Autostrade is a highway for comic artists and writers to reach their audience. This is the reason we created Autostrade and Division, to allow for all the talent to reach their audience.

- Can you give us a little hint about the material “Autostrade” will be having?

Marwan: Autostrade is what is known as a comics Anthology, it contains several stories by several artists and writers. It is a bilingual book, half of it is in English the other half in Arabic and that was to allow for as much talent to shine regardless of the language they are most comfortable working with.
The concept of Autostrade is similar to that of Shonen jump in japan, even though it was inspired by the French publication “Heavy Metal”. What we do is we give every artist and writer 12 pages to write a chapter of one of their stories (or a short story), if the story is serialized then the writer/artist or writer-artist team would work on another chapter for the Autostrade issue that follows and so on.
Then comes the audience participation bit, the readers are expected to vote on their favorite stories within Autostrade, the top stories voted for on our website: www.divisionpublishing.com, would getto become its own series, like X-men or batman for instance. That way the comic lines that we produce afterwards, would be ones that truly resonated with the public.
The first issue contain a vast range of comics ranging from your not-so-average superhero action comics, to mind bending imaginative fantasy universes with a social backdrop and agenda, mythology based stories, others based on Egyptian folklore and superstition, science fiction mixed with an ancientEgyptian motif, Action comedy social satire, funny gag strips, re-imagining of famous literary icons and highly Experimental comics. I can’t really say more details because I would rather people experience it first-hand.

- Do you believe in the power of comics? Can it really change something or affect people somehow?

Marwan: I think I’ve answered that question in part throughout the interview, YES, I absolutely believe comics areprobably one of the most powerful literary mediums and I think when properly applied and producedcan create a lot of change in the world and truly propel society forward, because it combines both thestrength of books and image. A picture is worth a thousand words and the pen is mightier than thesword, combine both together and you get UNLIMITED POWER(and that sounds like something out of asuperhero comic, but hey we love all types of comics so unlimited power it is).

We too, at Mashareeb, believe in the power of comics and we’re always happy to hear about a birth of a comics magazine in Egypt. We wish Division Publishing the best of luck with their first issue Autostrade and beyond that too.

For more information:

You can check out their website: www.divisionpublishing.com

Their Facebook page: Divsion Publishing

And Twitter account: @DivisionComics


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Carlos Latuff: Khaled Saeed’s Best Brazilian Friend

Today marks the first anniversary of Khaled Saeed‘s death, a day that represents the start of a wave of changes in the history of Egypt. We thought it would be a good idea to share some comics/caricatures that the very talented Brazilian political cartoonist Carlos Latuff drew during the 25th of January revolution while highlighting the role of Khaled Saaed in it. Carlos may not be Egyptian and has never met Khaled before, but he simply nailed it with his drawings and succeeded in representing what every single Egyptian felt at that time. May Khaled and all of Egypt ‘s martyr’s souls rest in peace.

If you’re interested to see more of Carlos Latuff‘s 25th of January comics, you can find some here.


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Shai Be7aleeb We Sokar: #1



illustration & idea by Fady

Shai Be7aleeb We Sokar is a series of unrelated comic illustrations reflecting the reactions and behavior of the Egyptian people towards news, events and pretty much everything happening around them.

Why Shai Be7aleeb We Sokar? (Tea with milk & sugar)

It’s a hot drink that serves the purpose of temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness, very famous in local coffee shops as it’s a focal point in social gatherings and the sugar adds sweetness to it, which is pretty much what Shai Be7aleeb We Sokar (the comic series) also tends to be.



شاي بحليب و سكر سلسلة من الرسوم الهزلية الغير متصلة تعكس ردود أفعال و سلوك الشعب المصري تجاه الأحداث والأخبار و كل شيء يحدث من حولهم

لماذا شاي بحليب و سكر؟

لأنه مشروب ساخن يخدم غرض درء النعاس مؤقتا واستعادة اليقظة ومشهور جدا في المقاهي كما انه نقطة محورية في اللقاءات الاجتماعية والسكر يضيف له طعم حلو و لذيذ، وهو الى حد كبير ما شاي بحليب وسكر(السلسلة الهزلية) يميل أن يكون


سخن، لذيذ، يفوق


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Interview: Ganzeer


We’ve been really excited about this interview but due to the current events Egypt has been going through we had to delay it. We don’t want to sound very cliché by saying “better late than ever”, but that’s pretty much the case here!

We’ve been very lucky to have an interview with Mohamed Famhy (a.k.a Ganzeer) and it is time for this interview to see the light!

If you’re not familiar with who Ganzeer is, check out our posts Ganzeer: The Alias of Mohamed Fahmy and Revolution Art: Graffiti to know more about him

notice: since people have been dividing the history of Egypt into 2 eras (Pre-Jan 25 and Post-Jan 25), we would like to inform you that this interview is Pre-Jan 25.


- How did you start getting into illustration and graphic designing?

Ganzeer: Well I grew up reading comic books, and pretty much just trying to copy the awesome art in their pages. Although comic books are a particular passion of mine, and its something I would definitely love to do, to make, I’m also equally interested in graphic design. This interest of course came a lot later, during my last year in business school. But trying to analyze my interests, why I like comics so much, and why I eventually grew to love graphic design is… well I think has a lot to do with communication. There’s something incredibly expressive about comics. The characters, their reactions, their faces, their body language. The way comics are laid out and how you can use that for even more expression. The lettering (typography) and what you can do with it. The colors. The dialogue and stories. All of this just made me interested in communicated ideas and how you can affect someone in their hearts using a variety of mediums. So yeah, graphic design, I think I first started learning it out of necessity, because during my last year in college, I noticed how a lot of artists I admired had websites, so I figured it might be a good idea to create a website to put my sketches on. So I had to learn web design, which, of course, involves graphic design. It was horrendous, but I eventually got offered to design a logo here and a brochure there anyway, and things just evolved from there.

- Why “Ganzeer“? And how did the “Ganzeer” idea get established?

Ganzeer: When I first started Ganzeer, I had intended on putting together a multidisciplinary design collective. “Ganzeer,” is Arabic for bike chain, which is a series of stand alone metal parts, when connected, they make a whole, and together as a whole they are able to connect gears together to keep them moving. It made sense to me at the time, but what happened later was that the whole collective thing never really worked out and I ended up working at Ganzeer all on my own, so the name just eventually became associated with me, and I just went ahead and adopted it as such.

- What are the things that inspire you?

Ganzeer: Shit, man. Everything!

- What is it like to be a Freelancer?

Ganzeer: It’s like having a dozen different jobs at the same time. You’re the designer, you’re the manager, you’re the sales man, accountant, production manager, secretary, and office boy. It’s tough. But then again, working with people can also be tough.

- You were recently in Noord, Netherlands, working on a project. Can you tell us a little bit about this project and how did you get the chance to participate in it?

Ganzeer: Although Amsterdam Noord is part of Amsterdam, a lot of Amsterdammers don’t really consider or treat Noord as such, so it’s quite an interesting situation for the Dutch. I, along with many other artists, was invited to do a project on Noord. I ended up doing what I titled Noorderlijk Character(istics), which was basically a series of maps of Noord, each map for a different date. The official neighborhoods of Noord were illustrated as characters, each character visually representing the “character” of each neighborhood. Basically using the art of character design as a mapping tool.

You can find more on that here: http://ganzeer.blogspot.com/2010/11/noordelijk-characteristics.html

How I got the chance to participate; well a couple years back, Independent Dutch curator was Nat Muller was a resident at the Townhouse Gallery and had a chance to live and work in Cairo for a while and thus meet a lot of local artists. So when she dreamed up this Noord project and pitched it to Mediamatic, I was one of the chosen artists considered for participation.

- What was your best experience while participating in a project? And how different is working on art by your own from participating with people?

Ganzeer: Well in this case, there was a central topic for all the artists to work within, that topic being Noord. But the topic is so vast that there’s so much to do, and each artist was pretty much working on his/her own, so it wasn’t really much of a collaboration, although it wouldn’t have been possible without the many researchers and “show builders” made available to help out with anything the artists needed. Still, it’s quite different from collaborating on a project with different artists, which I haven’t had a chance to do a whole lot of, but would definitely love to do more of.

- Are you working on any projects right now? Or are there any “Ganzeer” projects coming soon?

Ganzeer: Commercial projects aside, I think the most relevant thing I’m working on now is a screen-specific Arabic typeface project in collaboration with friend and designer Gaber.

- If somebody thinks he has some kind of talent, what do you think he should do?

Ganzeer: I guess they should hone their craft.

- Do you think art can touch/affect people? (if yes) In what ways?

Ganzeer: It can make people think, laugh, cry, or scream. It can amaze people, shock them, or amuse them. Just like a good comic book, song, or movie.

- What are your goals and dreams?

Ganzeer: I dunno anymore, man. I’m kind of in an odd, undefined, meta sort of state right now.

- You’ve traveled to different places and countries to work on projects. What do you think about the state of art in Egypt? And how is it different from other countries (Arab and non-Arab)?

Ganzeer: To sum it all up, I think Egypt has a lot of material to create art about. There’s just so much to tackle. I’m not sure if the same necessarily applies to other Arab countries, since I haven’t had the chance to visit many, but I didn’t feel it was the state in some of the European countries I’ve visited. Although there seems to be a lot more room out there for creativity and creating in general.

- Do you think art can play a role in improving Egypt?

Ganzeer: I hope so, man. I really do. Otherwise, I’ma have to make a drastic career change.

We would like to thank Ganzeer for his time and for giving us this opportunity!

We can already see art changing Egypt to the better, and we are pretty sure he will play an important role in this change.

Here are some links to stay updated with Ganzeer‘s work:

Website: www.ganzeer.com

Blog: ganzeer.blogspot.com

Tumblr: ganzeer.tumblr.com

Twitter: twitter.com/#!/ganzeer


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Ta3meya Man: Issue #3

Story and illustrations by HComic


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TokTok: The Birth Of An Egyptian Comic Magazine

Finally!…yes, finally! Egyptian comics have a new home and it’s called TokTok!

Mashareeb attended on the 9th of January the launch of a new Egyptian comics magazine by the name of TokTok.

The launch event was held at The Townhouse Gallery in Downtown Cairo. There was some media to cover the event, the artists were there signing copies, chit chatting with fans and taking pictures with them.

TokTok is a 100% pure Egyptian comics magazine, created by a bunch of young Egyptian comic artists, that will be released seasonally (every 3 or 4 months). The first issue (Isuue #0) was distributed at the launch event and all 500 copies sold out. Luckily, the creators of the magazine are planning on printing more copies and distributing them.

The magazine contains short graphic novels (from 1 to 4 pages) by artists like Shennawy, Makhlouf, Andil, Tawfeek, Hisham Rahma, Khaled Abdel Aziz and Mona Sonbol. The artwork of the magazine is fascinating and the Egyptian spirit can be felt in all the stories and the drawing styles. The whole thing is not just graphic novels and comic strips, it also contains a short story, a poem and a section dedicated for talking about the history of Egyptian comic artists and their work (wich is a GREAT idea!).

Their website is very interesting too, you can check it out right here (www.toktokmag.com). If you do comics, you can participate by sending them your work while following their submission specifications. And if comics are not your thing, you can submit background artwork for the website (their background changes frequently!). All the info you need for submissions can be found here.

It’s been a while since Egypt had its own comic magazine and Egypt is no way near being short of great comic artists. We can’t express how happy we are with the launch of TokTok, it’s like a dream finally come true. We wish the magazine’s team success and we are already looking forward for issue #1!

We’ll leave you with this interview Shennawy and Makhlouf made with “Saba7 El Kheir Ya Masr


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Ta3meya Man: Issue #2

Story and illustrations by HComic


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Ganzeer: The Alias of Mohamed Fahmy

Back in the days, when City Stars was a brand new mall, do you remember that t-shirt printing shop downstairs that had drawings all over its walls? No? Well never mind. Have you ever been to Euro Deli in Heliopolis? Nope? Never mind again. These mentioned places, are just places where Ganzeer‘s work can been seen all over their walls.

Ganzeer, or Mohamed Fahmy, is an Egyptian visual artist with a very distinct and unique style of drawing. What makes him stand out of the crowd is the Egyptian twist that can always be found in his illustrations and the various styles he uses in his work. He has done a lot of designing work for magazines, events, projects and musicians.

We are going to be shedding some light on some of his most distinctive work but if you want the full picture, from the man himself, we encourage you to go check out his blog.

He is currently working on a new website that is going to be released very soon, but his old outdated one; which also has a lot of his work, is still up for viewing right here.

We will surely cover more of Ganzeer‘s work in upcoming posts, for now, enjoy these!

Some of Ganzeer’s work:

- Slip of the Tongue / زلة لسان

A group show called “Why Not?”, featuring up to 45 artists, took place at the Palace of the Arts at the Cairo Opera House on February 2010 featuring up to 45 artists.

Ganzeer‘s corner, Slip of the tongue/زلة لسان, was one of the most notable ones at the show that it was featured in the Egyptian publication El Masry El Yom.

You can check out Ganzeer‘s paintings from the exhibition right here.

-  Ruins of The Future / أطلال المستقبل

This is an 80-page piece of sci-fi graphic novel that takes place in Egypt, created by Ganzeer and George Azmy (yes, the stand-up comedian…he draws too).

Unfortunately, we could not get our hands on an issue so we can read it and tell you more about it but we can tell from these snaps that the novel has Pharaoh robots, guns and shooting, which can only mean…awesomemess!

- Ramadan E7na

This illustration by Ganzeer, criticizing the behavior of the Egyptian people in the holy month of Ramadan, was featured a couple of years ago in E7na Magazine. It is a great example for Ganzeer‘s unique drawing style (with that Egyptian twist we talked about earlier) and characters design.


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Ta3meya Man: Issue #1

Story and illustrations by HComic

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