The Metro, an Egyptian graphic novel

Released in early 2008, Metro was Egyptian pharmacist turned graphic novel artist Magdy El Shafee’s first graphic novel – it was also the first graphic novel for adults to be published in Egypt. Part thriller, part love story, part socio-political commentary, it tells the story of Shihab and Mostafa — young men who rob a bank as a way out of bankruptcy — through illustrations of Cairo.

Why a comic? According to El Shafee “All my life I’ve been interested to know why people only tell stories with words, not pictures. Once I found a magazine that does comics for adults, and I really liked it, I said ‘that’s something I can do’. This was early on, but at that time Egyptian society didn’t accept it. Now because of more communication and everything there’s a generation of people who grew up with comics.”

Extracts of Metro were first published in the independent daily Al Dostour, edited by Ibrahim Eissa.

In May 2008, following the launch of the full work by publishing house Dar El Malameh, El-Shafie, a received a summons to appear before the state prosecution service following the confiscation of his novel from the publisher. Mohammed El-Sharqawy, head of Malameh, also received a summons, this time following 15 days spent in prison as a result of his participation in the 6 April strikes.

According to the state prosecution service, El-Shafie’s graphic novel, contained obscenity and libelous references alleging corruption on the part of prominent Egyptian political figures.

View translated excerpts from Metro here.

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