In July 2012, a new generation of illustrators, graphic designers, and animators, some with backgrounds in fine art, advertising and film storyboarding, started anonymously posting their responses to the turmoil on the Facebook page, Comic4Syria. In Syria, comic strips were regularly featured in official children’s magazines and since the 1970s there has been a highly metaphorical editorial cartoon culture in the country’s otherwise heavily censored press. Since the rise of the internet – which Bashar Assad claimed responsibility for before his presidency – young Syrians have been avidly devouring Japanese manga strips in English translation online. This has exposed them to the power of comics to convey subversive narratives, while the internet has denied the Ba’ath Party its former absolute monopoly.
Responding to these profound changes, Comic4Syria not only documents the revolution and comments on its trends, it also produces flyers, including “Torture is a strange concept to us”, distributed by nonviolent activists to the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo.