Sedki: Using Manga to Promote Homegrown Stories in Classical Arabic

Qais Sedki, author of the award-winning سوار الذهب , was profiled yesterday by CNN, and he had wonderful things to say about children’s literature, his process, television, and classical Arabic.

The article writer perhaps didn’t do sufficient research, calling “the Middle Eastern region” “slow on the uptake” in creating indigenous comics, claiming that the most notable was the recent The 99. Perhaps The 99 is the biggest export to the West (and the only Arabic comic that a U.S. President has praised), but comic book historians like Lebanese collector Henry Matthews would certainly beg to differ that there haven’t been Arabic-language comics.

Anyhow, never mind that. Just listen to Sedki:

Unless we produce things like this, it’s almost like saying ‘if you want anything cool, you have to look elsewhere.

I don’t want children growing up in that kind of culture. We have our own content; we have our own things that can be considered cool.

And I love him here, when he dismisses the idea of turning سوار الذهب into a TV program:

I’m not too keen on getting to that format real soon, because another very important thing for me is I want to get children closer to reading in Arabic.

I use classical Arabic in the book and I’m trying to fight this misconception that classical Arabic is boring not fun — no good for anything other than making our minds numb with schoolwork.

If you think about where children are exposed to classical Arabic: schoolwork, which they hate, or the news, which they find boring. Classical Arabic hasn’t had much of a chance to connect with children and I want to change that.

Sedki notes that سوار الذهب is nowhere near making its “financial goal,” by which I assume he means he’s not really making a profit on the enterprise. Which makes the fact that he’s not leaping toward television all the more admirable.

I look forward to seeing سوار الذهب carried by bookstores in Cairo…at least by the time my sons are old enough for YA. (Meanwhile, one can buy it on Amazon.Com, where it gets a five-star review.)

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