Comics of the Lebanese Revolution – Abstract, IGNCC 2022 conference

This is the abstract of the paper that I will present next week in Dún Laughaire at the International Graphic Novels and Comics Conference. The theme of the conference is “Comics and Conscience: Ethics, Morality, and Great Responsibility”

„I spotted you on TV, you have 10 minutes to get back home” – Comics of the Lebanese Revolution

On 17 October 2019 the people of Lebanon went to the streets to protest – for months – against taxes, secretarianism, and corruption. The revolution is documented and witnessed by Lebanese artists living all over the world as well as the artists actively involved in the protest. Also called “the Whatsapp revolution,” it was a highly mediated event organized with the help of social media.

I analyze short diary comics created by students at the American University of Beirut (AUB) as their assignment, published in a collected volume, Thawra, in 2019. My paper focuses on the representation of the mediums and spaces of revolutionary action: virtual and physical space, screens and streets. The streets are increasingly furnished and decorated by private objects as public events arrest private lives not only in Thawra but in other comics as well, such as in “First Last Date” by the Samandal collective (2021). I will show that the desire to make marks, leave traces, and communicate is apparent both in the intimate world of these comics and the public display of political graffiti that is often featured in Thawra. I focus on how these diary-like comics navigate their readers in complicated ethical and spatial relations and invite them to take part in witnessing. Furthermore, I argue that these comics are media conscious witnessing projects that anchor the reader in a multispatial now.

I will also show that the interesting spatial movements of the Thawra comics and the ethical dialogue with the readers do not stop with publication, the comics created at AUB were exhibited in a different cultural context, at the French-speaking Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts, Beirut in 2021, together with other drawings organized over a huge map of the city.

Bibliography

Davies, Dominic, Urban Comics: Infrastructure and the Global City in Contemporary Graphic Narratives, Routledge, 2019.

Ghaibeh, Lina (ed), Thawra: Graphic Narratives from the Revolution, Mu’taz and Rada Sawwaf Arab Comics Initiative, 2019 (English language edition forthcoming in 2022).

Orbán, Katalin, “Hierarchies of Pain: Trauma Tropes Today and Tomorrow” in Davies, Dominic and Candida Rifkind (eds) Documenting Trauma in Comics: Traumatic Pasts, Embodied Histories, and Graphic Reportage, Palgrave, 2020, pp. 29-48.

Szép, Eszter, Comics and the Body: Drawing, Reading and Vulnerability, Ohio State University Press, 2020.


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