Recent MU graduate Belal Al-Rawi, a cartoonist for The Maneater last year, has a surprisingly wide range of interests.
When he’s not drawing comics about his four years of college adventures, he works as a civil engineer of telecommunications for Black & Veatch.
“When I first applied (to MU), I had no idea what to do,” he said. “When you first register, they had a box to select what interest you had. I just chose engineering because my dad was an engineer.”
Unlike with engineering, Al-Rawi has always had a passion for drawing. Ever since his mother gave him his first “Calvin and Hobbes” comic book as a kid, Al-Rawi knew he was in love with the art.
He didn’t begin making his own comics until his senior year of college, though. After seeing an ad in The Maneater for a paid cartoonist position, Al-Rawi had the idea to start his comic strip called “Undeclared Major.”
After he graduated, Al-Rawi began his own website to showcase his comics.
“'Undeclared Major’ does not feature an incredibly complex story or plot,” Al-Rawi’s webcomic site states. “It’s just a series of short, moderately funny comic strips.”
“Undeclared Major” has more than 2,500 “likes” on Facebook as well as dozens of comments on the page from eager fans awaiting the next comic, which he releases every Tuesday.
Al-Rawi could only list one similarity between the life of an engineer and the life of a cartoonist.
“I guess the whole process of creating something from scratch,” he said. “Right now I’m a design engineer. It’s the same for cartoons.”
Most of Al-Rawi’s subject matter for his comics comes from typical college experiences to which many students can relate.
“Classic stuff like how I’m going to wake up and how food sucks at the dorms,” he said. “It’s also just making up some of the other stuff as you go. There’s always something you can relate to.”
His most popular comic, “My Shower Routine,” consists of four panels showing a man in the shower going through the motions of bathing and time spent doing each activity. It starts with “stand in stream of hot water” for nine minutes, then “ponder life’s mysteries” for 21 minutes, followed by “sing” for 13 minutes and finally, “do shower-related activities” for three minutes.
Al-Rawi has released “My Shower Routine” in a poster format and sold it on his website. The poster sold out.
“That one picked up a lot of viewers for me,” he said. “It’s gotten about 1 million views so far.”
Many fans comment on the “Undeclared Major” website with encouragement for Al-Rawi to publish more strips and get his comics on other websites. “Undeclared Major” can also be found on StumbleUpon.com.
Comments on Al-Rawi’s weekly comics often express how relatable his themes are.
“Your comics describe my life,” viewer Meira K. said. “They’re hilarious! I can’t wait til the next one!”