They made youngsters love to read. Myself and other classmates of mine used to smuggle our comic books to class because our teacher, a grey-haired chisel-faced stern disciplinarian, thought of comic books as less than garbage. He was wrong, of course.
The bold is mine, because I feel we can’t emphasize that enough. Being able to decode letters is one thing, but true literacy means developing a love of reading. If my son and his friends are any indication, comic books can help.
Matthews intends to compile an encyclopedia of Egyptian comics, and later hopes to open a heritage center for Arabic comic books, children’s books, and “recreational publications for adults.”
He’s interested in preserving history, but also has great hopes for the future of Arabic comic books:
We have a chance to create a booming comics industry in Lebanon. We have the will and the talent, whether to produce original work or to translate and publish suitable foreign stories. A lot of new and young talent is here. They are eager to create. They love what they are doing. Look at Samandal, the newest Lebanese comic book, with stories in English and Arabic. It will take sacrifice and patience, but the publisher who can afford it will succeed in the long run, especially if he learns from the mistakes of earlier publishers.
Comics are the language of the 21st century, Matthews told Now! Lebanon. It’s time for us to start talking.