Comics

Sheikh Maat! (Check Mate!)

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This episode ties directly to my previous one (The OttoMON-STER Upstairs), and shows events that happen in Yitzhak and Daliah’s apartment that are simultaneous to the events in Heidar’s apartment.

Here we are introduced to three new characters—Itzhak the Israelite, Daliah the Palestinian, and the third being Kurosh (Cyrus) the Persian. My personal views on the conflict are very neutral, but if you think my representation of Yitzhak or Daliah are lopsided, let me know and I might revise. Although it’s no secret that Israel does not have the best relations with Palestine or Iran, I did try to make an episode featuring all three in one room as humorous as humanely possible, without sacrificing true events in our world. In the next week or two, I will show Yitzhak in more fortunate conditions…and don’t worry—all his files are safe!

In the first panel, we learn that overdosing on arak is the worst way to treat food poisoning. Heidar is not in good shape right now, but he will recover, as he always does (Iraq has been through many foreign invasions). Daliah’s medicinal olive oil will surely speed up the recovery process! At the opening, I decided to include a brief interaction between Daliah and Arevik (on the phone), to show good vibes between Palestinians and Armenians. Right when Yitzhak’s computer goes berserk, Daliah escapes through the window. Though she did interrupt his internet, Daliah isn’t the true mastermind behind Yitzhak’s tech trouble! That’s right—it’s Kurosh! And he challenges Yitzhak to a friendly Israel vs. Iran Chess battle.

In the final panel, we see the gleam in Kurosh’s eyes that hints to us that he enjoys trolling Yitzhak. The two love a good game of Chess, and together, they go WAY back (and I’ve already dedicated a special Purim episode starring just the two of them, which will be shared in a few weeks). Temür will make another appearance in the next episode or two.

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In the next several episodes, we will begin to see how one character interacts with the other, and what kind of relationship they have with one another. It is bound to get more complicated as I go on with this series! The computer I am using is almost as old as Yitzhak’s (my daily struggle with technology emanates in the 5th panel). Once I can afford a new computer and modern software, I will update much more regularly.

In the meantime, if any of you readers have suggestions, comments, or threats for me, please do not hesitate to reach out to me here or via email. All feedback is appreciated!

The OttoMON-STER Upstairs II

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The second to last frame marks the end of long-held antagonism between Kuli and Sarg. Kuli recognises Sarg as a fellow “roomie”, which is a step towards progress since it affirms that Sargon does indeed rightfully live within the bounds of Heidar’s apartment (i.e., Iraq/Mesopotamia).

Much like Iraq and Syria have seen a sharp increase of turmoil in the past several years, we must also acknowledge that the disagreements between ethnic groups and communities in these regions that seemed major at the time, are insignificant today. There are much larger threats—threats that may destroy us all. The roots of these major threats must first be vanquished before we can, once again, focus on solving our smaller issues/regional disputes. If we are strong, we will survive.
The time for us, humanity, to unite and fight against ISIS and its legions is urgent. URGENT.

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Important Notice: I will try to continue publishing 6 panels per week as a part of this never-ending narrative series. That said, this is just the beginning. I promise to show Temür’s good side in future episodes. He may seem like a true villain if you consider this my final piece, but believe me — there is more to be seen!

Yemen.

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I illustrated this 3-piece poster in the first week of April 2015, mainly to promote the diversity of Yemen. When the 3 pieces are combined, it creates the full 6″ by 15″ scene.

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At that point in time, Yemen had faced two weeks of non-stop bombing and airstrikes from saudi arabia. It is now early September, and the bombing continues.

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Here is my original caption:
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In recent weeks, Yemen has been in a state of anarchy, following decades of political instability and poverty since the 1962 revolution. For over 2 weeks now, Saudi Arabia has been launching deadly airstrikes over Yemen, killing over 100 civilians. The death toll of civilians and “rebels” will continue to rise until the saudi invasion ends…until saudi decides to give a damn about justice and Human rights.

#KefayaWar (“enough” war) is trending on social media by those protesting the violence of foreign intervention. It demonstrates the devastation faced by Yemenites who have lost their homes or family members by drones in the past several years, or in more recent airstrikes, whilst simultaneously sharing the beauty of this fertile mountain city (Sana’a), and the strength and resilience of the Yemeni civilians.

This piece venerates the diversity of Yemen, dating back to the Jewish presence that prevailed back in the Himyarite era. It is a nostalgic scene, but flickers hope for a brighter future in Yemen.
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7 months later, the bombing has intensified and will continue.
:’/
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EDIT (28/09/2015)
In the last scene, you will notice I included some, erm, calligraffiti on the building. From top to bottom, it reads shlama in the Eastern Syriac (Madankhaya) script, shalom in Modern Hebrew script, and salam in Arabic script. Given Sana’a’s geographic location and influences, it would’ve made MUCH more sense to include Sabaean script, or even Amharic or G’eez script, rather than East Syriac. Or maybe I could’ve used West Syriac, or even Nabatean, rather than East Syriac. Although, I am not yet familiar enough with Sabaean or Amharic, I will have to revise this last piece and upload again!

SIZE MATTERS

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This is the first of my illustrated cultural narratives (comics) that I will share to the public. I’ve already illustrated a total of 33 characters whom each represent a certain country or region in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa). I will give more details on each character under the COMICS page. How exciting!

The idea of THIS comic popped into my head in February of 2015, when a few news articles lead me to think that the UAE may be competing with Turkey in humanitarian aid efforts toward Syrian refugees. Generally speaking, Turkey is not one to compete in the whole superficial “bigger is better” industry, like the UAE (Dubai) has in the past decade. However, Turkey has opened the absolute largest refugee colony for Syrian refugees late in January. Key word: largest. Around a week later, Dubai’s IHC donated an enormous sum (I cannot even verify the exact amount) toward Syrian aid. From the lens of financial capability, Dubai WIN$ this round. What else is new? From Burj Khalifah, to the ever-growing “shayla bump” trend, Dubai will always outdo you in materialistic size and quantity! The turban, or sak, that my Turkish character wears echoes back to the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman I.

On a positive note, it is also a commonly held view (a generalisation) among khalijis that Emirati girls have higher academic performance than their male counterparts, and strive to be independent women by paving their own career paths. So, the size of the Emirati caricature’s shayla could be interpreted either as her hair growing (humidity of the UAE climate OR the massive size of the flower clip underneath the veil), or it could be interpreted as her intellect growing in size as she concentrates on how to get “bigger”…oh, and better.

DISCLAIMER: I hope none of my comics offend people too much. I am always interested in feedback on my work, so please do not hesitate to leave me a comment or message if you enjoy what you see, or even if you want me to revise a potentially hurtful message. As I publish more of my comics, you will see that I poke fun at every region and country in the MENA (including my own) equally, based on their own unique generalisations and relations toward one another!  We in the Middle East need to lighten up. 🙂