American Univesity of Beirut

Serious look at Comics

​​​​​​​​​​​​May 30, 2021​​ 

Celebrating the 6th Mahmoud Kahil Awards, organized by the Mu'taz and Rada Sawwaf Arab Comics Initiative at AUB, was exceptional this year. Amidst a very unkind and difficult year for the entire world, and even more so for Lebanon, the artists of the Arab world submitted their works to the annual awards, with the initiative receiving participation from a record 14 Arab countries. The esteemed jury members met virtually rather than on the beautiful AUB campus as in past years, selecting the deserving winners. Growing over the past six years, the initiative has established itself as a hub for the research, preservation, and promotion of comics from the Arab world, and continued to uphold its mission to honor Arab artists by showcasing and celebrating their tale​nts. Artists who today are breaking boundaries, using this medium to express themselves, and offering the world a window into the youth and culture of the Arab region. 

Winners of the 2021
Mahmoud Kahil Awards


Established Moroccan octogenarian cartoonist Ibrahim Lmhadi wins the Lifetime Achievement Award for his early contribution to Moroccan cartoons and his courageous stand in the face of political censorship, never surrendering his belief in his art and its message.



The Comics Guardian Award goes to the Masters' program in Comics and Illustration, at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts (Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts) represented by founding director Michele Standjofsky. This pioneering program offers a one-of-a-kind comics education in the region and has produced a cohort of innovative young artists who have been active in the new movement of Arab comics and are being recognized internationally.​​ 


​Mwafaq Katt (Syria)

One of the leading and most established Arab cartoonists, Mwafaq Katt from Syria, is this year's winner of the Editorial Cartoon category. His exceptional craft and artistry, exhibiting decades of experience and talent, chronicles the Syrian tragedy and the suffering of refugees.

Mai Koraiem, Case 43 Labban (Egypt)

In the Graphic Novel category, Egyptian artist Mai Koraiem, retells the story of two infamous female serial killers Raya and Skeena. Through her archival style collaging newspaper documents with maps and portraits, Koraiem digs deep into the archives of history to show how women were tried by society and judged before final hearings. 


Migo Mohamed (Egypt)

Egyptian Comics artist Migo, winner of the Comics category, tells the story of a single woman writer seeking inspiration in the streets of Egypt. Migo's expert use of color, his rough but realistic lines demonstrate his mastery in visual narration. His story unfolds through his flowing script and his use of the Egyptian colloquial language. 


Michael Jbareen (Palestine)

Winner of the Graphic Illustration category Michel Jbareen from Palestine, demonstrates how to be an ethical consumer through captivating and beautiful illustrations in the form of an infographic that illustrates the disparity facing the Palestinian people. Even though this harmony is, in some of the drawings, threatened by soldiers of the IDF, Michael paints a life affirming vision of wellness and prosperity.


​Diala Brisly, The Good Kite (Syria)

The beautiful and masterful watercolors of our winner this year in the category of Children's Book Illustrations are painted by Diala Brisly, herself a refugee from Syria. She fills the pages poetically with images of hope, decorated with rich ornate patterns from Africa, and watercolors that spread on the heavily textured paper – showing us the resilience of hope in the face of modern-day human tragedies.


Celebrating the 6th year of the Mahmoud Kahil Awards has been all the more special this year; not only because we were able to continue to honor the artists who have toiled to shine their light on our part of the world, but also rejoicing in our​​​​​ ability as a community, that aims at promoting culture and art, to continue to thrive in the wake of an unusually difficult year. 

Check out the full virtual exhibition her​e

Illustrations and Arabic lettering for 6th Mahmoud Kahil Awards by Bahij Jaroudi. Book and Virtual Exhibition design by Haya El Bizri.

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