– Interview with Haitham and Mohamed aka Twins Cartoon, comics artists from Cairo –


RP: How would you describe your journey through the world of comics? Where and how did it start?

TC: At first, our parents noticed in both of us talent for drawing, and they noticed that we like to make sketches on paper & wall, so they wanted to support us and increase our talent, by buying for us comics magazines with different styles inside... So we grew up with comics. Then, we participated in school exhibitions, we showed our comics works, and after that we decided to get more professional about our comics - we studied at the faculty of fine arts, cartoon department, which has led us to this field of work.

RP: How would you describe your art? What is that you are interested in showing?

Haitham: Any artist at the beginnings of his career has many influences around him, that are coming from various comics styles, until he develops his own style that expresses his viewpoint. Any character around us has many attributes, not only in his appearance, but also something that becomes clear through his dynamism, while he has his authentic soul inside, and this is what I try to show through my art. Mohamed: For me, the artist sees life that surrounds him in frames - he sees what normal person doesn’t see, he is interested in every detail. So an eye of an artist should be like a camera which captures everything around him, and thats what I try to show through frames in my comic art.

RP: Who are your main influences?

TC: you can say that our main influences are coming from local Egyptian environment thats usually crowded with people, from the old civilization, from our growing up with parents who liked art, and who encouraged us a lot to develop our talent.

RP: Is there a comic art scene in Cairo and how would you describe it?

Mohamed: Cairo is a big city that has many inspiring scenes for any artist, it has many historical places, and for sure Cairo has comics art scene. Before the revolution, there were many attempts by many artists to express life in Cairo, but after the revolution comics atmosphere encourages artists even more to show this old city in their comics. Before that, they were relying mostly on comics scenes from outside of Egypt ..

RP: Comic art always had some subversive elements. What was the situation like during Mubarak’s regime and do you see some differences now, after the Arab spring?

Haitham : Its sure that any artist, in order to be creative, needs free atmosphere to express in his art whatever he finds important. The artist's work can affect many readers and has many effects, so during Mubarak’s regime most of art was limited, subordinated to authority, and it was so clear in such art disciplines as comics and caricature. But revolution came and broke all these limits and restrictions, finally an artist could breathe in the atmosphere of freedom, and his art had no limits, his caricature could express anything thats surrounding him without any fear, and the art started to be created for all of us, not only for the authority..

RP: How do you see future of comic art scene in Egypt and do you see it’s place in the society?

Mohamed : I have to be cheerful, for there is a great future of comic art scene in Egypt, especially after the Egyptian great revolution. And there are many talented artists in Egypt who have motivation to make comics art that will have a place in society, and to express hopes and concerns of all Egyptian people..

RP: Is Egyptian comic different from European or American, and how?

Haitham : first comic art was a tool to express culture and traditions of every country, so i think that there are differences between Egyptian, European and American comics.. as an example, American comics focus on super heroes and villains, but in Egypt you can see stories about ancient Egyptian civilization and pharaons, while nowadays comics focus on Egypt and revoultion..

RP: What’s the reception of your comic art outside Egypt, how foreign people react to your artworks, do they understand your message?

Mohamed: I have a lot of friends artists from many countries outside of Egypt. When they saw our comic art, they wondered is there a comics scene in Egypt, gradually they became more interested in our art, and i see that they understood our comics, because drawings can express more than words, and thats clear in our Egyptian traditions and culture from our art.