So for Gulf News in the weekly education section, I decided to collaborate artistically and do a cartoon strip for a one month trial. A lighthearted wacky Dubai based cartoon strip. Initially it was only meant to have two characters – Reem and Rania.
It is a comical, tongue-in-cheek take of girls in Dubai and
exaggurates/pokes fun of specific behavioral traits of the
stereotypical airhead glamazon persona of some women living here. The
two protaginists live in a total bubble (but are quite loveable
nonetheless) and it’s about their misadventures, their humorous
interactions with other people and how the world around them percieves
them and their carefree frivolity. Seemingly shallow, the
strip echoes intellectual undertones, observational humour peppered with
a few relatable cultural references.
Because their personalities are exaggurated and they have limited
depth, it is an observational satire but one that many people can
relate to as everyone knows or has encountered someone who is a bit
like them at some point, especially in this city.
After pitching the initial idea to Gulf News, we agreed that it would be a better idea to introduce other characters as people might take offence and think that I’m making fun of women in abaya, when in actual fact, the idea was just to have a fun character in an abaya – giving them representation.
So I came up with some other ideas and had a great time making some offbeat zany characters to thicken the plot. In this strip, for example, it was based on a friend of mine who’s really nice (bless him) but is abnormally positive and inspirational in every single aspect and situation, seeing the silver lining constantly- almost to an annoying degree!!!!
So I thought this over-enthuiastic, new agey zen-like trait would be a great fodder for a character!!! It’s someone people can relate to ..everyone knows an irritatingly chirpy prozac ridden person at the office , whom when confronted by their over zealous attitude in the morning, you resist the urge to staple things to their head in the peak of your grumpyness!!
Another theme I decided to play around with was notorious Dubai Gold diggers. Shallow women who are on the prowl looking for their latest potential Daddy Warbucks hubbies. Y’know the type … high standards, high tastes and even higher heels.(Manolos ofcourse, darling) I thought it would be fun to throw a handful of Dubai references in there … to make it feel closer to home. Mentioning the concept of “wasta” (connections), Emirates Hills (Dubai’s version of Beverly Hills), status symbol single digit plates and the mad desire for the latest crocodile skin Hermes!
Now, the sock puppet strip is an extremley aquired taste. Basically to fully appreciate it in its utmost glory- you need to be a little nuts. I for one cracked up while drawing it. (Maybe im the only one????) The psychitzophrenic sock puppet character could have many possibilities and much potential in the future, and I was thinking he could make a cameo reappearance from time to time… JUST the sock puppet from the corner of the frame ..perhaps giving his pearls of wisdom to another completley different character (as if he’s a real person!!) the possibilities of this are endless!!!!
If the strip were to continue I would really want to explore more stereotypes and push it to the limit (respectfully ofcourse … but all in fun!!!) for example an overly competitive indian student who is obsessive about getting good grades, “full marks” and a 4.0 GPA, stressing out to the point of hard core insanity, or an obnoxious social climber Pakistani married girl who keeps bragging about her newfound marraige status every single chance she gets, rudely cutting people off with her inane tales of married life –
“now that im MARRIEDD…i cant do that …ohhh… i do miss those days but now that im MARRIED my life has changed…My HUSBAND…OOH….my HUSBANDDD wears blue too!! what a coincedence”
or an Australian “treehugger” expat who’s obsessed about the enviroment constantly lecturing people on carbon footprints, organic food and recycling. (you can imagine how in-one-ear and out-the-other THAT talk would be..especially in Dubai!!!)
The variety of crazy characters intervening and their drastic clashes in personalities could end up being a really amusing unique multicultural mesh!!! … stay tuned …