Welcome on MEDiakitab blog. This program aims at sharing information and ressources dedicated to reading and writing practices, from story telling to digital form, in the Euro-Mediterranean space.

MEDiakitab association, located in Marseille, is in charge of administrating the blog. Contents are a reflection of the activities, analysis and knowledge developped by the network members.


Lena Merhej and Samandal

Moving comics in Arabic world

Dédicace Léna 4

Telling stories with bubbles

After studying art and graphic design, Lena Merhej illustrated many children books. Starting from 2005, she entered the world of comic books, motivated by the wish of « telling stories ». In her first album « I hope that during newt war, we shall be able to be calmer », published in 2006, the artist gathered personal memories in a humorous guide to face the was absurdity. Her comic books « Kamen Sine » and « Laban and Jam » received the price for the best album in the Algier international festival of comic books, in 2009 and 2013.

Samandal, a flagship magazine

In 2007, Lena founded with three artists a collective and trilingual magazine : « Samandal » (Salamander). Gradually, the magazine becomes more international, through the participation of Arabic and European comic book artists. But the seventh edition published in 2009 that was  dedicated to revenge created a controversy on some drawings that were misinterpreted by catholic religious authorities. The final judgement has been issued this summer and sentenced the magazine to pay a large fine. The collective has launched an appeal to crowdfunding contributions, that enables us to hope that Samandal survive.

Arabic comics has already been touched by censorship : Metro comics of Magdy al-Shafee in Egypt, in 2005, AbdelAziz Mouride in Morocco… But Lena stated that we should stay optimistic : « with passion, work and mutual assistance, beautiful results can be produced. »

Developing creative movements

As in the rest of the world, Arabic comic books was first dedicated to children. Gradually, the artistic expression has been adressed to young adults and adults, through strips in newspapers and then through fanzines. Today, there is a boom of Lebanese comics.

However, comics creation faces challenges of a lack of interest by publishers, and distributors that could widen the audience. That is why many artists gather in collective to become more resourceful, like during the residency organised in MACBA, in Barcelona, in late November 2015, by the curator Salah Malouli. The four guests, Lena Merhej, (Samandal, Lebanon), Mehdi Annassi (Skefkef, Morocco), Noha Habaieb (Lab619, Tunisia) and Shenawy (Toktok, Egypt), took advantage of the opportunity to share their experience and publish a collective magazine, a guide for young artists : 30 pages to follow the journey of a comic book : creation, production, printing, distribution…