Ali’s House by Marguerite Dabaie and Tom Hart Syndicated
I first heard of Ali’s House, a newspaper comic strip about an Arab-American family by Marguerite Dabaie and Tom Hart, when I read Hart’s The Sequential Artists Workshop Guide to Creating Professional Comic Strips. Hart uses their experiences working together as examples of his points.
From what I can piece together, the strip was originally developed in 2008 for King Features Syndicate. The pitch was that human nature, particularly in a family, is universal, although the cultural trappings may be different.
The main difference between an average American family and an Arab-American
family may just be the food and music. Ali’s house is full of the smells of
mamoul (date cookies) and mujadrah (lentil and rice stew) and the sounds of
music coming from the various ouds, nays, and darbukas, but it’s also full
of the crazy characters and situations that any modern family experiences.
Ordinary human obsessions surrounding play, family, media and work are what
you’ll find when you peer into the windows of Ali’s New Jersey home.
Now the strip is being newly syndicated at GoComics, apparently from the beginning. Ali’s niece Maisa has just come to New Jersey, and the first few strips available so far are introductory.
This may be a better time for a comic normalizing Arab-American life than when it was first introduced. The sacrifices of one particular family have been in the news lately, and many people are more accepting and understanding of wanting to keep in touch with one’s culture while living in America.