Courtesy: Noura Masri Shining through Naureen Akbar clinched the first place for her ‘N-Power’ superhero in the Best Technique and Artwork category. Image Credit:

The Cartoon Art Gallery recently organised a ‘Make Your Own Superhero’ Art Competition. Teenagers across the UAE were invited to create what they believe to be the ‘coolest’ superhero character. We received more than 70 entries/artworks - either hand-drawn or digitally produced - in full colour and black and white.

Liz Ramos-Prado, an information graphic artist – illustrator, who is one of the judges, said: “A superhero is someone who has a special power, so how one envisions this characteristic and some aspects of his/her personality (his/her name, strengths, weakness, where she/he lives, age, gender, perhaps family, and so on) helps a lot to design the superhero’s body shape, face, costume and any tool or weapon. We asked people not to limit themselves. When it comes to creating a character, imagination is key.”

Another judge, Julia Townsend, illustrator and professor of illustration at American University in Dubai, said: “Judging the superheroes competition was more complex than you might expect, and we found there were many strong entries, but for varying reasons. We were able to categorise three important strengths to consider.

“The first was originality. Was the character just a slight adaptation of something we’ve all seen before? Was it a character that reflected the cultural environment of Dubai in some way? Or a character that incorporated aspects of Manga or Marvel comics, but moved beyond mere imitation?

“The second aspect was technique. How well did the artist use the materials? How was the line quality, the shading, or in some cases, the composition? Also, how much detail was included?

“Finally, the concept itself. How much effort was put into the special powers of the character? What kind of personality did s/he have? Likewise, how is the character seen from different points of view, or in different situations?”

The competition serves as an excellent method for students and teenagers to get more interested in both cartoon and education. It allows them to be productive and enjoy diversion from their normal school activities, while educating them about cartoons and thinking creatively.

The competition’s free entry also helped raise awareness about cartoon art in the region by getting teenagers involved and interested, as well as helping them learn along the way about the art of cartooning.

Townsend said: “It was very inspiring to see creativity from teenagers in the community, and it appears to be a theme that cannot be exhausted. I recommend that next year the artists focus on originality and execution skills. What kind of superhero can be born in the UAE?”

The winners will receive a prize and their artworks will be displayed at The Cartoon Art Gallery for two weeks from May 23. The awarding ceremony will be held on May 23 from 6pm to 8.30pm at the Cartoon Art Gallery. Admission is free for all visitors.

The reader is the gallery manager at Cartoon Art Gallery in Dubai.