"Made in Egypt"
"Faces and Features," a recent exhibit hosted by Egypt’s Caricature Society and the Indian Cultural Center in Cairo, was an elite affair. The Indian ambassador honored Ahmed Toughan, the octogenarian leader of the official cartoon clique, standing before his illustration of Nasser and Nehru from the non-alignment days. There were portraits of Gandhi, Taha Hussein, Omar Sharief and other folkloric heroes. But none of the faces captured the scenes that a Cairene sees while sauntering down the street, between cups of tea.
Here is a actual gallery of Cairo’s faces. The portraits above appear on the back page of Tok Tok, the thrice-annually zine of Cairo’s agitating illustrati. The tea waiter, the tailor, the shopper—the real deal, with handy guides to surprises in their pockets, dining trays, and shopping carts.
Tok Tok publishes ”real life comics,” as my friend Thalia Beaty writes on Muftah. I’m writing a profile of the magazine for the upcoming Cairo Review, so I won’t give away too many juicy details. Between the response from critics—including M. Lynx Qualey, Jenifer Evans, Negar Azimi, and Megan Detrie—it’s not a stretch to say that Tok Tok is the vanguard, the new Golden Age of Egyptian cartooning.
But I know nothing about Hafnawy, the illustrator of the above portraits. Let me check in with my friends at Tok Tok about that. In the meantime, more drawings from Tok Tok here here and here.