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TintinTintin Travelsme

In order to make sense of Tintin, I travelled the world* in his footsteps.


*Belgium, France, Egypt, UAE, Taiwan, China, and India.

E-mail / Twitter / Tintinography / MAJALAT / Blog Roll / Index

Hello dear readers! I’ve started a brand new art blog called MAJALAT. I’ll be posting a new image on it every weekday. It’ll be sort of like this blog, but with a lot less words and a lot more pretty pictures. I’ll return to Tintin Travels to post links to long form writing on which I’ve been working.

Check it out and follow me there and then follow me there.

majalat:

Welcome to MAJALAT, an online gallery of comic art from the Arab world. My name is Nadim. I’ve written about comics previously on Tintin Travels and elsewhere. This past year, I’ve been much less active online as I’ve been working offline on a book about the cultural history of Arab Comics….

Blistering Barnacles!
I wrote about the excellent Indian publisher Navayana and their first two anticaste graphic novels over at on the Hooded Utilitarian this week. A sample:

The success of both of Navayana’s graphic novels is recasting biography of anticaste leaders as intriguing graphic novel. Bhimayana and A Gardener in the Wasteland work towards this goal from different starting points, but they both end up as strong debuts in the global comics landscape. For a long-form comic to balance entertainment, technical skill, and Theory is not easy, which makes it somewhat remarkable that out of the gate Navayana has two comics that pull of such an act.

Go check it out!

I wrote about the excellent Indian publisher Navayana and their first two anticaste graphic novels over at on the Hooded Utilitarian this week. A sample:

The success of both of Navayana’s graphic novels is recasting biography of anticaste leaders as intriguing graphic novel. Bhimayana and A Gardener in the Wasteland work towards this goal from different starting points, but they both end up as strong debuts in the global comics landscape. For a long-form comic to balance entertainment, technical skill, and Theory is not easy, which makes it somewhat remarkable that out of the gate Navayana has two comics that pull of such an act.

Go check it out!

Blistering Barnacles!

2011 In Review

Although 2011 has been a busy year for me, it’s been a relatively quiet year for the blog. Therefore, as the calendar year closes I figured it would be as good a time as any to recap and regroup. A year ago today I was exactly half way into my Fellowship year ringing in the new year in Cairo (before a bit of first-hand revolution witnessing and Anderson Cooper meeting). Now six months back into the United States I am having as much fun parsing through my collection of Arab comics in California (where I have re-relocated) as I did collecting them in Egypt. In the intermediate time I have been fortunate enough to gain a whole fathom of new readership (thanks Spielberg!) who have been very kind in bearing with me as my focus has expanded beyond Tintin into entire different histories of foreign Children’s Comics, contemporary artists throughout the Middle East and Asia, and critical writing on non-Hergé comics. For the sake of new and old readers alike, I present here a sampling of some of the best of my writing from 2011 as well as my plans for 2012:

  • Waiting for Nabil Fawzi (April 29) - An updated version of my exploration of Superman’s translation into Arabic by Lebanese publisher Illustrated Publications in the 1970s.
  • The Case of The Arab Henchman (July 11) - In this twist on an old staple of mine, I look at Hergé’s long history of edits to The Crab with the Golden Claws (now a major motion picture) and particularly how he handles one henchman from the later part of the album. 
  • Show and Tintin: Tintin’s Footprint in China, Wooden Tintins in Dubai, and Bootleg 丁丁 - I started this “Show+Tintin” series as a brief way to showcase Tintin sitings that were more fun to look at then to write critically about. These are designed to help readers understand just how much of a commercial product the boy reporter is abroad.
  • A Survey of Contemporary Arab Comics (September 2) - A brief taste of the amazing comics scene currently renaissancing around the Middle East. Mainly, this is a hopeful launching point for new fans of Arab comics.

From here on out, I’ll keep a list like this updated in my newly created Index section.

But on to 2012, which for those of you that have read my recent press or attended my recent lectures knows is the year of THE BOOK. Well, my book to be specific. That’s right! I’ve been working hard at turning my Middle East findings so far into a cohesive book which tracks the history of Arab comics from their inception into their recent incarnations, all set up through the lens of Tintin. I will definitely be providing updates as the project develops! Also, in the new year I am looking forward to giving a lot more lectures on Tintin’s travels through “the Orient,” with a few engagements already lined up. All and all, it’s been a great year to be a Tintinologist and I look forward to continuing the pursuit in the new year!

Blistering Barnacles!

Nate Berg of The Atlantic Cities wrote a thoughtful piece about me and my research this past week. Head over there to read it:

“When you’re made to confront a city versus imagining it, it’s just a completely different experience. It’s more holistic and more totalizing and more complicated than would fit in 60 pages of ligne claire artwork,” Damluji says. “But what I’m interested in is how much of Hergé’s representation of others is not just Hergé. It’s not just the case of one man being racist, but how does this reflect the time in western Europe and how it looks at the world?”

Many thanks to Nate for the write up!

Blistering Barnacles!

For my column on the Hooded Utilitarian this month I talk with Craig Thompson about Orientalism in Habibi. It was at times a hard conversation to have on my end, but he was so classy about it that it went much smoother than I had any right to expect. A selection:

Nadim: I want to switch gears to talk about Wanatolia and the decision to make it a timeless city, and how that factors into the end of the comic. I was hoping you could articulate how you had the decision for Dodola and Zam to return to Wanatolia and the reveal that it is modern in the western conception, even though at the heart of it is this palace which is backwards.

Craig Thompson: In earlier drafts of the Sultan’s palace, I was mediating on the Bush administration and feeling like it was this sort of clueless world that existed outside of our own society. That was in the aftermath of 9/11 when you would see Bush off golfing somewhere. And certainly some Sultans during the Ottoman Empire have been critiqued historically for being clueless what was happening in society. That’s how the Ottoman Empire fell, the Sultans were living in a hedonistic cushion. By hedonistic I don’t mean they were sleeping with all their courtesans … it’s just the role of Americans and rich people in general that are totally oblivious of the state of the world. In terms of that clashing of the new and old world, that exists everywhere. If you travel to a developing country, you see people living in incredible poverty and living very simple lifestyles similar to 100 years ago brushing up against modernity and global trade. You can see how obviously our consumerist society is feasting off of poverty in their countries and how all our waste is there. Here we just consume and produce a lot of waste and then it sort of disappears and we don’t have to deal with it precisely because we are heaping it on to other people. And that’s a reality… I’m doing a fairy tale or parable version of that, but I don’t feel like it’s dramatically abstracted from the world we live in.

Read more if this intrigues you. And that marks the last writing I will do about Habibi for quite some time. Confronting your idols is a draining business!

Blistering Barnacles!
On to the next one! After a great few days at the Sharjah International Book Fare, I’ll be in Beirut for the next week to do some more talking and research before returning to the US. This is the great poster that IFPO prepared for the talk. If you’re in the area please attend!

On to the next one! After a great few days at the Sharjah International Book Fare, I’ll be in Beirut for the next week to do some more talking and research before returning to the US. This is the great poster that IFPO prepared for the talk. If you’re in the area please attend!

Blistering Barnacles!

Sharjah International Book Fair

Hey readers! Just dropping in to provide a quick update that I will be talking about Hergé’s imagination of the Middle East in Tintin as well as contemporary Arab comics later this week at the Sharjah International Book Fair from November 15-20. I very much look forward to returning to the United Arab Emirates after my research took me to Dubai and Abu Dhabi last Winter.

While I’m back in the Middle East I will also make a trip to Beirut, Lebanon where I will talk Tintin at the Institut Français du Proche-Orient on November 23. More details to follow on both of these exciting speaking engagements! If you are in the area for either please stop by.

Blistering Barnacles!
I was reminiscing about Hong Kong today which led me to realize I had yet to post any Tintinography from my stint there. Anyways, here is one that was fittingly taken on one of my last days in the city and one of my last days abroad.

I was reminiscing about Hong Kong today which led me to realize I had yet to post any Tintinography from my stint there. Anyways, here is one that was fittingly taken on one of my last days in the city and one of my last days abroad.

Blistering Barnacles!
To keep things relevant, here is Tintin posing with the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an.

To keep things relevant, here is Tintin posing with the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an.

Blistering Barnacles!
Update #2: Earlier this month I wrote a critical exploration of Orientalism in Craig Thompson’s Habibi. It has been (mostly) well-received and garnered me quite a bit of readers and comments! Many thanks to kind links from web luminaries such as The Beat, Bookslut, Comic Book Resources, Arab Lit, and a thoughtful response from Eddie Campbell. A taste of my review:

The question, then, is if Thompson so badly wanted to tell a story about what sex means in the context of love (familial to sexual), survival, and sacrifice, why did he choose this vessel? The answer I come to is that because this was the easy context. The artistic playground he chose of barbaric Arabs devoid of history but not savagery is a well-trod environment in Western literature, and one that is consistently reinforced in the pages of Habibi. In too many panels, Thompson conjures up familiar and lazy stereotypes of Arabs. From the greedy Sultan in his palace, to the Opium dazed harem, to the overly crowded streets of beggars, and the general status of women as property, Thompson layers the book with the hollow caricatures from other literature. These settings are easy to imagine because they have been passed down and recycled throughout much of Western media, so we immediately register these vague settings as natural.

Read More…

Update #2: Earlier this month I wrote a critical exploration of Orientalism in Craig Thompson’s Habibi. It has been (mostly) well-received and garnered me quite a bit of readers and comments! Many thanks to kind links from web luminaries such as The Beat, Bookslut, Comic Book Resources, Arab Lit, and a thoughtful response from Eddie Campbell. A taste of my review:

The question, then, is if Thompson so badly wanted to tell a story about what sex means in the context of love (familial to sexual), survival, and sacrifice, why did he choose this vessel? The answer I come to is that because this was the easy context. The artistic playground he chose of barbaric Arabs devoid of history but not savagery is a well-trod environment in Western literature, and one that is consistently reinforced in the pages of Habibi. In too many panels, Thompson conjures up familiar and lazy stereotypes of Arabs. From the greedy Sultan in his palace, to the Opium dazed harem, to the overly crowded streets of beggars, and the general status of women as property, Thompson layers the book with the hollow caricatures from other literature. These settings are easy to imagine because they have been passed down and recycled throughout much of Western media, so we immediately register these vague settings as natural.

Read More…

Blistering Barnacles!
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