Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sandcomics - Arab cartoons and national identity

This advert has been running on all UAE channels for a while, and what with the repetition and the cool graphics, I felt compelled to go check out the website it advertised.

Turns out there is a new bilingual Emarati comic that will be distributed both in printed form, at an as yet unspecified price, and an online edition will provide a downloadable page every day.
The idea, in the words of Ahmad Almansuri, is that it should "promote national identity and show the traditions of this Gulf state to visitors "

I find the whole concept of 'native pride' a bit iffy, and as for Sandman as the incarnation of the spirit of the past Asia said "DAMMIT! muslims PLEASE be original ".

Some of the artwork is very good, but not up to the standards of the TV trailer. And the super hero Ajaaj doesn't seem to have been fully developed - what can you say to this for example:

Then there's the name.

3asifa Ramliya (Sandstorm) not being a very catchy, they came up with Ajaaj. Which has a sort of nice ring to it…only instead of conjuring up some primeval force bearing the ‘values of the desert’ into a futuristic city, it is - to me at least- synonymous with those ‘ayam 3ajaj‘ when you’re cooped up at home, with nothing to do but think about whether to dust or not to dust.

So overall it was a bit disappointing. I was expecting something like the Khaleeji cartoons last Ramadan, the Saudi and Emarati ones were pretty awesome.

Almost every national Arab channel has a short let's-make-fun-of-ourselves cartoon during the fasting month, usually aired around if6ar time, for a local audience.

Highlander has blogged about our own 7aj 7mad, the great dissector of Libyan mores, who desperatly needs a make-over as her photo makes clear.

Last year the Saudi's aired يوميات مناحي on their pan-Arab mbc - it dealt with topics from youth unemployment to Iraq. Sort of like 6ash ma 6ash but more understandable :P, so it was the content rather than the technical presentation that mattered.

It was the Emarati الفريج however, broadcast on Dubai, that broke the usual format of a well-meaning male fool as the central figure and representative of the 'national character'.

Instead there were four older Emarati women of varying ethnic and social backgrounds, personalities, and I.Q levels. It was visually visionary too, being the first Arab 3-D animation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you said.. It lacks comic relief too.. forgot to mention that.. the art keeps changing too.. they should stick with one artist.. :P

But about the copying thing.. he is not a memory.. he's just an ornament from old arabian gulf legends..
Keep in mind that he is a sandstorm.. his energy is based on wind power.. and his form is solidified by sand..
and the artwork is sometimes embarrassing.. can't believe you actually posted that up! :D

I know coz I'm kindna working for them too.. but I don't have a say about the artwork.. >.< I'm more of a manga person..

And yeah.. the Ramadan shows were a riot!!
Sha3beyat El Kartoon was my fav!!

Interesting blog you got there! ^^
The Comic Addict