Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A virtually unknown Palestinian BD / سلسلة شبه مجهولة من القصص المصورة القلسطينية

As I was browsing the shelves of my favourite second-hand bookseller in Maadi (more about them in another post), I stumbled across a series of Palestinian BD's, entitled al-Rumāh al-ṣighār / الرماة الصغار ('The Little Slingshooters').

These works are of considerable interest, not only because of their sophisticated presentation, but also because they represent a conscious attempt to promote the work of Arab comic-book authors -- and to use this artistic medium to narrate the Paestinian Intifadah to a younger audience.

The editorial statement, reproduced on the back cover of each of the volumes, reviews the state of BD publishing in the Arab world:
"Despite an increase in the Arab production of comic strips, foreign products published in Arabic remain dominant. The heroes of foreign stories, such as Grendizer, Superman, Dan Cooper, and Tin Tin, are still the ones best known by young Arab readers." 

In order to redress the balance, the editors propose this series of graphic stories, all on the theme of the first Intifadah. It seems that their attempt to reach a wide audience was not hugely successful, considering the fact that there are exceedingly few references to the series, and no holdings in any major university library (the sole exception being Kuweit University Library; the Library of Congress appear to have one volume floating about). In other words, the series remains virtually unknown.

Now there is a series record in WorldCat, derived from the Arab Union Catalogue entry linked above. There number of volumes given is five, and indeed each volume has a list of five titles on the back of each end-paper. For the record, I provide a list with full citations for each volume below.

At the time of publication, the publisher had offices in Limassol, London, and Cairo. In Egypt, the works were distributed by Sīnā lil-Nashr (18, Sh. Ḍarīḥ Sāʿd, Cairo. Tel. 3547178). A note on the front fly-leaf states that the volumes were published in cooperation with "Dāʾirat al-Thaqāfah, Munaẓẓamat al-Taḥrīr al-Filasṭīnīyah". The series editor is given as Muḥyī al-Dīn al-Labbād (Bio | Video)! I seriously doubt that one can obtain the volumes from any of these sources; should you be interested in seeing them, please contact me, and we can try and work out a solution.

ملواح, سيد علي. المطاردة. صورة الغلاف
Malwāḥ, Sayyid ʿAlī. al-Muṭāradah. al-Rumāh al-ṣighār, 1. Limassol: al-Ṣaqr al-ʿArabī lil-Ibdāʿ, 1991.

ملواح, سيد علي. المطاردةالرماة الصغار, 1.ليماسول: الصقر العربي للإبداع, 1991.
The first three volumes in the series are more artistic in nature, and serious in content. Funky colours only appear on the title page, while the content is all black and white - in every sense. The story lines all revolve around Palestinian youths who outsmart bloodthirsty Israeli soldiers.

سلمان, عمار. خريطة من ذهب. صورة الغلاف
Salmān, ʿAmmār. Kharīṭah min dhahab. al-Rumāh al-ṣighār, 2. Limassol: al-Ṣaqr al-ʿArabī lil-Ibdāʿ, 1991.
سلمان, عمار. خريطة من ذهبالرماة الصغار, 2.ليماسول: الصقر العربي للإبداع, 1991.

مزاري, محمد. العرض مستمر. صورة الغلاف
Mazārī , Muḥammad. al-ʿArḍ mustamirr. al-Rumāh al-ṣighār, 3. Limassol: al-Ṣaqr al-ʿArabī lil-Ibdāʿ, 1991.
مزاري, محمد. العرض مستمرالرماة الصغار, 3. ليماسول: الصقر العربي للإبداع, 1991.

Volume three in the series is my favourite as far as the artwork is concerned. The narration is not text based, but draws on evocative images, and cleverly chosen transitions. For example, the narrative begins as the pattern on a Palestinian headdress transforms into the grooves on a grenade hanging from the the belt of an Israeli soldier.

محفوظ, حيدر. الآلة الجهنمية. صورة الغلاف
Maḥfūẓ, Ḥaydar. al-Ālah al-juhannamīyah. al-Rumāh al-ṣighār, 4. Limassol: al-Ṣaqr al-ʿArabī lil-Ibdāʿ, 1991.
محفوظ, حيدر. الآلة الجهنميةالرماة الصغار, 4. ليماسول: الصقر العربي للإبداع, 1991.

اللباد, محيي الدين. 30 سؤالاً. صورة الغلاف
al-Labbād,  Muḥyī al-Dīn. 30 Suʾālan. al-Rumāh al-ṣighār, 5. Limassol: al-Ṣaqr al-ʿArabī lil-Ibdāʿ, 1991.

اللباد, محيي الدين. 30 سؤالاًالرماة الصغار, 5. ليماسول: الصقر العربي للإبداع, 1991.


  1. Hello Mark, thanks a lot for posting this rare content about 'The Little Slingshooters', I was looking for them for years ago and didn't find anything.. I'm so interested to see more of the inside page of these books–or, ideally, I wish to own them at any cost :) do you have an extra copy of each one that you may want to sell? or could you find more copies at the bookshop?
    Your feedback is so important to me..
    Thanks again,

    1. Are you in Cairo? If so there is a bookshop that has extra copies for sale: As you come out of Thakanat al-Maadi Metro onto Road 9, turn right. Walk down until you have Awlad Sultan al-Dawli Supermarket on your right -- there is a bookshop in the driveway opposite (quite hidden). They have a complete set for sale, as well as a large selection of other classics (mostly: Grandizers, TanTanetc, Marvel...)

    2. Thank you Mark, unfortunately I'm not in Cairo, I'm based in Amman, but I've asked a friend for help, hopefully I can get those books..

      fingers crossed..