The honoring ceremony for the winners of the Mahmoud Kahil Award, given for the second consecutive year by the Mu'taz & Rada Sawwaf Arabic Comics Initiative, was held on Wednesday March 1st, at the American University of Beirut (AUB).
During the ceremony attended by a number of political and economic figures, as well as social, artistic and media figures, the trophies were handed over to the winners. Artist Doaa' Al-Adl (Egypt) won the Mahmoud Kahil Award Under the Editorial Cartoons' category, Fouad Mezher (Lebanon) won the Graphic Novels category award. The Comic Strips award went to Tunisian artist Othman Selmi, whereas Graphic Illustrations/info graphics award went to Muhammad Mostafa (Egypt). Lebanese national, Maya Fidawi, won the Children's Book Illustrations award.
The Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame honorary award, recognizing an outstanding dedication and service for a minimum of 25 years in the fields of comics, cartoons and illustration, went to renowned Lebanese cartoonist and illustrator, Habib Haddad.
The Comics Guardian award, another honorary prize recognizing those who have extensively supported comics and cartoons in the Arab world through preserving, collecting, promoting, publishing, teaching or exhibiting this Art, went to the founders of Cairo Comix.
Dr Imad Kaddoura, representing the minister of Culture Ghattas Khoury, presented to Mu'taz & Rada Sawwaf the Ministry's Medal of Appreciation, to express "gratitude for their generosity and creativity". He noticed that "in seeking to promote and protect Arabic comics, they are enriching the cultura; heritage of the entire Arab world. They are providing much-needed support not only to a category of art, but also to a powerful tool of free speech and expression".
AUB President Fadlo Khuri said during the honoring ceremony that comic art, which includes graphic narrative writing, whether for children or adults, as well as editorial cartoons, "is a major plank in our cultural heritage." "It embodies freedom of expression, the voice of youth, and counter-cultural and alternative perspectives that fully deserve their place alongside the more celebrated media such as cinema or theater," he added.
"We at AUB are seeking to foment nothing less than another cultural awakening emanating out from Ras Beirut, another Nahda, and we believe that the Mahmoud Kahil Awards and the Sawaf Arab Comics Initiative are among our strongest resources in building towards that objective," Khuri said.
Mrs. Rada Sawwaf called during the ceremony for issuing a commemorative stamp in the name of Mahmoud Kahil that honors his art work and his contributions to the Lebanese, Arab and international comic culture. She also noted that Kahil has made the Arab caricature reach the international scene, adding that his works were studied in the universities across the world.
"This competition uncovered once again new and remarkable talents from the Arab World, innovative in their art, who have worked so hard to enter this competition," Sawwaf said.
"Building on the successes of these past 2 years, the Initiative is going global and Dr. Ghaibeh is already in advanced talks with the Angouleme International Comics Festival, one of the most prestigious Cartoons event of the world and the 3rd largest event of its kind worldwide," she added.
Mrs Sawaf explained that ongoing discussions include having, as of 2018, a display at the Festival to promote the artwork of prominent Arab Cartoonists and Caricaturists and to offer workshops that will introduce Arabic Comics literature to the broader international audience.
The list of runner-ups included Othman Selmi (Tunisia) and Ahmed Tawfiq (Egypt) in Editorial Cartoons category; Hazem Kamal (Egypt) Diala Brisli (Lebanon) in the Graphic Illustrations/infographics category; Fouad Mezher (Lebanon) and Mohammad Koraytem (Lebanon) in the Comic Strips category; Nechi SeifEddine (Tunisia) and Omar AlNasiri (Morocco) in the Graphic Novel category; Walid Taher (Egypt) and Sahar Abdallah (Egypt) in the Children's Book Illustration category.
The same criteria adopted in the most important international competitions were also adopted at the various stages of Mahmoud Kahil Award. The jury included Lebanese editorial cartoonist in An Nahar daily newspaper Armand Homsy, New York Times BestSelling author of Brief Histories of Everyday Objects Andrew Warner, associate professor of design and founder of the graphic design program at The American University in Cairo Bahia Shehab, head of Animation Department at Future Television George Khoury (JAD), Scientific Advisor to the International City of Comics and Image (Cité, Angouleme) Jean-Pierre Mercier and Egyptian Graphic comics designer and artist Shennawy.
The aim of the Mahmoud Kahil Award is to promote the art of comics, editorial cartoons and illustration in the Arab world through the recognition of the rich talent and creative achievements of professional artists in the region
The award is named in honor of the late Mahmoud Kahil, a celebrated leading Lebanese cartoonist and caricaturist of the Arab World, and a graduate of AUB.
The Mahmoud Kahil Award is under the Mu'taz and Rada Sawwaf Arabic Comics Initiative at AUB, an academic body at the American University of Beirut, established in September 2014
The Arab Comics Initiative aims to facilitate the interdisciplinary research of Arabic comics, promote the production, scholarship and teaching of comics, and develop and maintain a repository of Arabic Comics literature.