Many children grow up loving Manga, the Japanese form of animated cartoons, particularly the superheroes – and not just kids, many adults love them too. Noor Al-Deen Al-Houni and his friends Mansour, Abdullah and Ahmad are among Libya’s biggest Manga fans, so they decided to take the next step and establish a club for Manga fans. Manga is the Japanese word for ‘cartoon’.
They started by setting up a Facebook page with the aim of letting Libyan society know what Manga is all about. They also published their own magazine, Habka, with Libyan artists and writers both male and female.
Nour Al-Deen tells me about the beginning of the magazine. People interested in being part of it filled out a form and showed their work. The founders chose the best 30, and eventually narrowed them down to 15: seven writers and eight artists.
They also promoted the magazine through workshops, starting with a week-long event in Sousa in eastern Libya. Nour Al-Deen discussed writing, and fellow founder Abdullah Hadia discussed and demonstrated sketching and artwork.
Medical student Malek Al-Haddad does not let his busy studies prevent him from keeping with his hobby; he says he has loved Manga since he was a child. Malek emphasises the difficulty of combining his job at the magazine and his studies, but says he is now used to managing both.
Hiba Al-Sheikhi, 20 years old, was not originally a big Manga fan, but her drawing talent has made her Abdullah Hadia's Manga assistant – she is in charge of the characters’ costumes in Habka.
According to Nour Al-Deen, every new issue has its own problems. In the first issue, the artists had to draw with paper and pencil, because the drawing tools did not arrive in time. During production of the second issue there was a power failure in the city; for the third and fourth issues, the problem was that some artists had to get back to their studies.
After the fifth issue was published, rising prices prevented the team from publishing more, though they were ready to, having given out the first four editions for free. They did this because they wanted people to get to know Manga, Nour Al-Deen says.