Algiers has long been a cartooning hotspot, and the International Comics Book Festival of Algeria (FIBDA) is an important annual event. But although Algiers has welcomed and celebrated both Arabophone and Francophone comic artists — Lebanese graphic novelist Jorj Abu Mhayya and Egyptian magazine TokTok both won awards at last year’s fair — the Algerian scene has its own flavor. In the last few years, the manga form has been on the rise:
Although Richard Jacquemond noted, in a recent book chapter, that the Arabic book market has largely resisted the global manga trend, it has had some traction among artists in the Emirates and also, notably, in Algiers.
A September 22 AFP article notes that “Algeria’s home-grown manga a hit with the young.”
It particularly quotes Salim Brahimi, the founder of Z-Link, Algeria’s first publisher dedicated to manga comics, and Laabstore, a magazine that showcases new work. The Z-Link and Laabstore manga are promoted as “100% Algerian.”
Most excitingly, the comics are published trilingually — or soon will be — in French, darija (colloquial) Arabic, and soon in Amazigh, according to AFP.
Z-Link launched its manga misison in 2007. In 2008, 40 percent of a print run — around 3,000 copies per title — would be sold. Today, the numbers are more like 70%, and print runs have gotten as large as 10,000 copies per title, according to AFP.
Ten thousand copies per title begins to show a high profile, and Z-Link’s Kamal Bahloul told AFP that, “When we started this adventure there were just two of us. Now we have nearly 30 employees. We are growing five percent on average every year.”
Japan also has noticed. This year, Japan’s Kyoto International Manga Museum acquired several Algerian works.
Bahloul told AFP: “In 20 or 30 years, young Algerians will all have mangas and comics on their bookshelves.”
Alexandra Gueydan-Tureka’s “The rise of Dz-manga in Algeria: glocalization and the emergence of a new transnational voice”
Video with Salim Brahimi, founding editor of Laabstore: