There are graphic novels by Naif Al Mutawa – The 99 – and by Qais Sedki – Gold Ring. And soon, there will be the comic book series, -Jinnrise, one of the first works to explore the traditions and legends of Arabia by US-based Indian Muslim Sohaib Awan.
“This comic is inspired by stories from the Middle East, but intended for a global audience. Everyone can get something out of this story,” Awan says from Philadelphia.
Jinnrise – produced by IDW Publishing, the company behind popular comics such as Transformers, Star Trek and GI Joe – concerns the invasion of Earth by merciless, brutal aliens called the Kibrani. With the destruction of the human race at hand, humble anthropology student Andrew Marcus takes it upon himself to halt the onslaught.
Marcus seeks the help of an ancient and feared race called the Jinn, who could well be humanity’s last hope. Awan believes the book manages to combine ancient Middle Eastern traditions with modern quest myths such as The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.
Drawing on traditions
Ensuring the stories were sensitive to the mores of the Arab World was one of Awan’s key concerns.
“We have tried to be as sensitive as we can to traditional beliefs. I know that the Jinn are mentioned in the Quran, so we have researched the Jinn thoroughly to make sure we are very respectful to Islamic beliefs.
“The Middle East has so much culture and perspective to offer the world,” Awan adds. “Hopefully, Jinnrise will tap into the spirit of the modern Arab world’s thirst for triumph over oppression by informing, enlightening and entertaining.”
“The 99 did very well around the world; comic books are being accepted as a serious art form in the local region,” Awan says.
A comic book industry is beginning to flourish. This year, Dubai hosted -Comic Con, the international festival of geek culture. “The response was amazing,” says Awan.
The idea for Jinnrise was promoted at the event, which was also where IDW first showed an interest in buying up the publishing rights.
The series will go on sale, in hard copy and digital form, next month. The Middle East Film and Comic Con 2013 in Dubai is tentatively scheduled for April 5 and 6.
• Visit www.jinnrise.com for more information