Hamid Sulaiman is originally from Syria, but his opposition to the regime landed him in prison, and upon release he was expected to join the military he once protested against. To avoid this, Sulaiman left the country with his mother, a lawyer close to the Syrian National Council, to Germany, where she stayed. He, however, continued to “the country of comics” - France, where comic book writing is sometimes considered the ninth art.
Though trained in architecture, Sulaiman was always more interested in art. He wanted to be an animator growing up before turning to comic books, which were considered neither art nor literature in his home. He harnesses the art form to show the struggle many in his home country still encounter, but his work also captures the glory of hardworking people fighting an unjust regime. His flagship graphic novel, Freedom Hospital, follows an ensemble of figures that oppose the regime working to maintain an underground clinic for those who can’t seek help legitimately. The stark black-and-white style, reminiscent of Frank Miller’s Sin City, boldly presents a war-torn Syria, while the host of characters intimately explore motivations and relationships in this setting. He’s won plenty of awards, including the Pulp Festival Prize and the Pen Voices Festival Prize, as well as having his work displayed in prestigious exhibitions throughout the world, including the British Museum and The Institute of the Arab World.
Continuing in this work, he’s turned to researching the Hama massacre in 1982, and endeavours to represent this. Despite presenting the suffering ongoing in Syria that drives so many away, Sulaiman doesn’t define himself by his having left, and chooses to instead define himself by his work.
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Dylan is a third year History and Politics student at Oxford University. He researched and wrote this article as part of the Oxford University Micro Internship programme.