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From Street To Culture: Egyptian Graphic Novel Anthology Tok Tok Perseveres

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From Street To Culture: Egyptian Graphic Novel Anthology Tok Tok Perseveres

Tok Tok Illustrations (photo courtesy of Shennawy)

Likely to be unknown outside the comics and graphic novel community, Tok Tok is a graphic novel anthology created by Egyptians about Egypt and Cairo life, and regularly published online and sold at select stores.

According to the Brussels Comic Fest, Tok Tok Mag’s first issue was published in January 2011 in a climate of social revolt. The quarterly review reflects the daily reality of life in Egypt, from the comic to the tragic.

What is a graphic novel anthology?

An anthology is a collection of different shorter comics into one publication, such as a book.

Tok Tok Poster (Illustration by Shennawy)

The misconception in graphic novels is that, like comic books, they are made for children. However, a large majority of graphic novels are created with a target audience of adults. The Tok Tok Graphic Novel Anthologies are part of that.

Tok Tok, according to their publication, is “a review that aims to produce a bustling mass of comic strips in a free, contemporary spirit, drawn and edited by its own artists.”

Pages from Tok Tok Mag Issue no. 16.

Some of the artists that founded Tok Tok are Shennawy, Makhlouf, Andeel, Hicham Rahma and Tawfik. These are some of the big names of comics in Egypt.

Other names that also have artwork contributions are Migo, Anwar, Mohammed Salah, Hefnawy, Hagrassy, Tamer Abdelhamid, Mohammed Ismail Amine as well as French artist Jolo.

The first issue was released on January 10, 2011, and the most recent issue was the 16th anthology, released last November.

 

 

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Tok Tok’s initial anthology editions have been followed then by other separate comic publications as well as some French editions of their work. They also sell limited edition posters on their online website, with an online store in Europe, and one on Cairopolitan for Egyptian customers.

Despite being an ‘indie’ anthology with a small niche audience, Tok Tok has impressively thrived for nine years, with support from The Ninth Art Foundation, which is a communication point between artists in Egypt, as well as the Institut Français d’Égypte and the European Union.

Cairo Cocktail by Shennawy.

In 2015, SFGate called Tok Tok an “alt-zine where stories deal with love, joblessness, the attitudes of their elders and the authorities or the chaos of Cairo. Sometimes the approach is humorous, sometimes dark, and sometimes surreal.”

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Arts & Culture Reporter. Writer and multidisciplinary artist with a passion for podcasting and theatre. Pre-pandemic, can be spotted getting work done from a Cairo coffee shop, train in Delhi or a New York subway. Intra-pandemic, works at a sunny window with lots of iced coffee.

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