Dubai: International student Andrew Marcus’ world is torn asunder when interstellar forces, the Kibrani, invade earth. With all hope seemingly lost, humanity’s last hope may be a long-despised and forgotten race: the Jinn!
The above prologue leaves enough clues as to what readers can expect from Jinnrise, the Middle East’s first global comic book series.
As the creator, US-based Sohaib Awan himself puts it: “Jinnrise tells the stories of the old-world Middle Eastern myths through cutting edge science fiction. It’s the first time that our mythological stories are combined with the western fantasies and make it delectable to international readers.”
A Jabal Entertainment creation, Jinnrise was launched in Dubai in January. The 23-page monthly comic book in English is published by US-based IDW Publishing, the world’s fourth largest comic book publisher. Without giving away much of the plot, Awan says the story is spread across the Middle East, China and the US. Among the characters are the 10-year-old Unis from Morocco who symbolises the best of humanity, and Haya, the female character who is emblematic of the region.
“I think she is going to be the most interesting and talked-about character in the series because of her exceptional courage and inherent nobility. Readers from the Middle east will easily identify with her,” added Awan, who is also the founder and CEO of Jabal Entertainment.
The author born to Indian and Czechoslovak parents said his comic creation is also an attempt to explain the origin of many myths and what they stand for. “Myths arise from our fears and superstitions. Hopefully the comic stories will help to bust these myths. It also sends a strong message to a global audience that before we prejudge a culture or group of people with our limited exposure, we should go into the details and understand it better.”
According to him, Jinnrise aims at “bridge building through story telling” for a potential 100 million plus Arab comic book readers. “We cannot underscore the surging interest in fantasy based in Middle Eastern mythology and popular culture, which has not gone unnoticed by the American publisher.
“The Middle East has so much culture and perspective to offer the world. Hopefully, Jinnrise will tap into the spirit of the modern Arab world’s thirst for triumph over oppression, informing and enlightening while entertaining,” he said.
Jinnrise is available at Kinokuniya Bookstore, Dubai Mall (Dh17) and internationally through Diamond Comic Distibutors and online at www.comixology.com.