Wednesday, 9 October 2013

FIBDA 6 - The International Comic Strip Festival in Algiers

FIBDA opened on Tuesday afternoon, and Wednesday 9 October was its first full day.  I'm so glad I was able to make it as I walk away from it with exactly what I was looking for, Algerian comics in Derja among which Algerian Love, and a better idea of where Algerian mangas and the Algerian language in writing are heading.

The below are works that caught my attention and made it in print and on FIBDA's stands.

There was an overwhelming amount of French language comics, a minority of modern standard Arabic, and a few but solid comics in Algerian Derja (ok, I've only seen one, with another not yet published in full but whose plates were exhibited, yet there could have been 10 more I didn't spot, right).  There is at least one other Algerian Derja comic book in the mix, to be published by next year, written by Nawel Louerrad (who also writes in Arabic). She was present to sign and promote her French album.

Z-Link editions promotes Algerian mangas, written in French and in Derja. Among the French language albums : Houma Fighter by Said Sabaou and Loundja by Amir Cheriti and Yasmine Boubakir (there's also Nahla and the Touaregs, Drahem, The Revolution, in brief their whole collection!)

Bendir and Laabstore are two magazines in French that promote Algerian mangas. Laabstore's stand was filled with their 2012 volumes, a year dedicated to celebrating 50 years of Algeria's independence.

Laabstore is glossy, attractive but a little short (46 pages), while Bendir is more substantial in content and thicker (70 pages).  Both are sold at 200 dinars.

Waratha (the Inheritors) is a two volume collective work, written in French and published by Dalimen Editions. It features "the next generation of Algerian cartoonists" so the back says.  The same group worked on a first collective work called Monsters also published by Dalimen, in 2011. Each Waratha volume features 5 authors. (Separate post about this album to come later).

Also on display was a comics collection of over 60 volumes called The History of Algeria (Tarix el Djaza'ir), written in modern standard Arabic. Only the middle-part was on display so I do not know when does the History of Algeria is said to start. Each volume is drawn by a different illustrator but I do not know if the scenario was given to them whole, and written by one individual only.  It is supported by the Ministry of Culture and published by Kaza Editions.

Kaza editions also publish several historical comics written in modern standard Arabic. By historical I mean comics about the region's pre-colonial history and its heroes:

The Berber warrior el Kahina, with the Berber symbol topsy-turvy.

The heroes of the Arab Maghreb:

The "Algerian hero", Rais Hamidou.

There were several publishing houses present in fact. I've already mentioned Dalimen editions who have a large stand with pricey albums, all be it hardback covers and thick glossy paper. I'd rather they were affordable, quality is too often made to rhyme with high cost and it shouldn't, it is feasible to print good quality for (a wider) distribution at reasonable prices.

Dalimen also had organised a collective exhibition featuring the work a young group of cartoonists who followed a training, from March to July 2013 under their wing. My favourite, unsurprisingly, is a forthcoming album written in Derja called Fatm'as Memories (Dhikrayat Fatma) written by Safia Ouarezki and drawn by Mahmoud Benameur.

There was also Amine "Floyd" Djaballah's work "Suspended History", who set out to trace the history of Algeria, from independence to the last words of Mohamed Boudiaf (RIP).  There weren't many plates of his on display and the below is typical, plates are composed of drawings and few words (in French) if any. I hope there is already, somewhere, and that there will soon be, everywhere, a history of Algeria told in Algerian, we shouldn't only find DZ history told in French or modern standard Arabic exclusively).

Lazhari Labter Editions were also present with (Algerian) comics in French, I didn't see any other language on their table or shelves.  

They published, in the French language, a fantastic and heavy looking book called : a Panorama of Algerian Comics from 1969-2009.  I would have loved to get it but I'm broke so it will have to be for next year.

Foreign comics were also promoted, under the largest tent, where I found a shelf for Moroccan comics, with a tri-lingual work called a Tagine of Rabbit (Un Tagine de Lapin) translated into Moroccan Derja (written with the Arabic script) and Tamazight (written in neo-Tifinagh).  These two were fine price-wise (400 Algerian Dinars, 50 Moroccan Dirham, each, for 22 pages) but the other foreign volumes on display cost from 1,500 Algerian DA for about 10 pages to at least 4,000 DA. Gulp.

Finally, the albums of the usual famous suspects were present (Slim, le Hic among them). Slim's editors, Enag, also seem to mostly promote French language albums (with the stories of Algerian historical figures such as Yougourtha by cartoonist Moulay) with some albums in modern standard Arabic.

Among the up and coming, you can now find El-Andaloussi (L'Andalou)'s first album just published called E= MCA (written in French). You can browse El-Andaloussi's work on his FB page here.

I shall now go back to finish Algerian Love (written in Derja with the Arabic script)...

... an awesome manga by Mohamed Amine Rahmani.

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