One of the biggest international festivals of comics has honored the Samandal collective, the engine driving Lebanon’s cutting-edge multilingual comic series, with a major prize.
The Angouleme International Comic Strip Festival, held in late January, awarded its famed Alternative Comic Book Prize to Samandal for “Experimentation.”
Published in December 2018, “Experimentation” was guest edited by Swiss author Alex Baladi.
Since the Samandal project was launched in 2007-2008, its publications have been multilingual.
The conceit of the “Experimentation” was to have each of its four narratives, which were penned by Alex Baladi, Samir Youssef, Abir Gasmi and Adeline Rosenstein, translated into Arabic, French, English and a dialogue-free version by a different illustrator.
“What’s cool about our publication is that we can do whatever we want,” Samandal President and contributing illustrator Joseph Kai said in a recent interview.
“We’re not in an author-publisher relationship where we have to make things that will sell. It’s really easy for us to shift attention from whatever is conventional or classical and really experiment.”
The 16 international illustrators contributing to “Experimentation” alongside Kai are Cecile Koepfli, Maurane Mazars, J.M. Bertoyas, Pierre Schilling, Nour Hifaoui, Mohamad Kraytem, Raphaelle Macaron, Jana Traboulsi, Lena Merhej, Tracy Chahwan, Aude Barrio de Sousa, Andreas Kundig, Ibn al Rabin, Ghadi Ghosn, Karen Keyrouz and Alex Chauvel.
Created in 1982, the Angouleme Alternative Comics Award is the first French prize to reward international comic publications.
Samandal was founded by Omar Khoury, Lena Merhej, Hatem Imam, Fdz and Tarek Nabaa, and is currently run by Lena Merhej, Barrack Rima, Joseph Kai, Raphaelle Macaron, Nur Hifaoui, Karen Keyrouz and Tracy Chahwan.