Navigate / search

[Interview] Absar Kazmi on illustrating humorous comics with a thoughtful message and his take on social media

Artist Absar Kasmi
Talented artist Absar Kazmi

Equipped with a life-long passion for drawing, and an advocate for faith, moral and ethical issues, Absar Kazmi is founder and illustrator of a clever comic series: Life with the Ahmad Family. In the series he explores a variety of issues evident in Muslim societies, as well as stories and messages that appeal to people of all faiths, ages and backgrounds.

All this wrapped in an often times humorous package, Absar says he wanted to create something different with the Ahmad family: “I wanted to show that practicing Muslim families live real lives; no doubt prayer, fasting, reading Qur’an are all extremely important, but Muslims families also joke with one another, we play football, we go on picnics and we like reading regular books too!”

Absar was born in Pakistan, but spent lot of his youth traveling (and sketching) from country to country, from the animals in the wilderness safaris of Kenya to drawings of superheroes. However he soon gave this up, only to renew this passion in later years of university and married life. He then found a way he could sketch that was Islamically permissible and wanted to pursue both his passion for drawing and passion for his faith, “With the popularity of conventional comics and cartoons amongst the Muslim youth – it seemed that there was a real need for Islamically acceptable comics and other media for the youth” he says.

After a few creative pursuits, in late 2011 Absar was given a platform from Hiba Magazine to develop a cartoon for them to attract a wider audience, and thus Life with the Ahmad Family was born. Read my exclusive interview with Absar as he shares his interesting journey, his take on issues surrounding social media and technology, and even tips for the upcoming month of Ramadan.

How did ‘Life with the Ahmad Family’ come about? What led you to create this series, and why?

That’s an interesting story… About seven to eight years years ago while lying in bed trying to go to sleep I had an idea for a story about a boy who has a really bad day. Since I couldn’t go to sleep anyway, I began to type it out. His day starts out bad, gets worse; soon becomes awful, then horrible, and finally downright abominable! I called the story ‘A Bad Time Tale’ and I named the boy Jamal.

A short while later I heard about an international story writing competition to be held by a well-known Islamic books publishing company. I thought this is the perfect opportunity to see how my story does, so I fixed it up a bit and sent it in to the competition. Alhumdulillah, it won first place!

“I wanted to show that Muslim families also joke with one another, we play football, we go on picnics and we like reading regular books too!”

Now I really wanted to have my ‘book’ published; however, I thought to myself, ‘Why in the world would anyone want to read a children’s book by a completely unknown author?!’  So, I just sat on the idea for a few years… not really knowing how to take it further.

A few years later, in late 2011, Hiba Magazine approached me asking me to develop a character or cartoon for them in order to help them attract a younger audience. I agreed to help them, but didn’t really know where to begin. Then it dawned on me… This could be THE opportunity to introduce Jamal to the world. So I developed a comic about Jamal and his family and called it ‘Life with the Ahmad Family’. I was hoping that this comic would allow me to get people accustomed to the Ahmad Family and then soon I could also introduce ‘A Bad-Time Tale’ to this new audience.

Image from Jamal's Bad-Time Tale
Image from Jamal’s Bad-Time Tale

Read more

[Interview] Adil Imtiaz on creating Muslim Superhero ‘Buraaq’ and aim to introduce a new spin in the entertainment industry

Buraaq: The New Muslim Superhero
Buraaq: The New Muslim Superhero

Introduced in January 2011, Buraaq emerged on the scene as the new and unique Muslim superhero, ready to counteract negative perceptions of Muslims and make the world a better place. 

Buraaq is “Yusuf Abdallah” a regular guy who happens to be practicing Muslim. From his mission to tackle injustice in the world, his role as director of a large relief organisation, to his ability to fly, Buraaq does not fall short of incredible abilities and fascinating adventures.

So as the first ever Muslim Superhero by Muslim artists, how is Buraaq making his mark in the entertainment/news industry? 

I talk with talented co-founder and artist Adil Imtiaz, to answer all your burning questions. Adil’s life-long fascination in comic books and art, as well as witnessing negative portrayal of Islam/Muslims in the entertainment industry, triggered his inspiration to create Buraaq. Read on as he reveals the ultimate goal of his work, intriguing insights, plus exclusive secrets about seeing Buraaq on the big screen!

Brothers: Adil and Kamal Imtiaz
Brothers: Adil and Kamal Imtiaz

Tell us a few interesting facts about yourself? What are you passionate about?

“I’ve always enjoyed sketching and drawing. Especially comic book characters. Even as a kid in 5th grade, I used to draw my own stories and characters. Just a natural passion.

As a matter of fact, back then, I had drawn over 20 issues of a superhero series in a period of a few years. These were stories drawn on simple notebooks, and each notebook was an issue/episode.”

What inspired you to create Buraaq and why?

“Over the past few years, Kamil and I began to realize that the Muslim world did not have an alternative to the secular narrative and heroes produced by the entertainment industry.

In addition to that, there was a growing pattern in the mainstream media of portraying Islam and Muslims in a negative light. We thought there was a need to counter this, and the best way was to use our God given skills.”
Read more

[Interview] Soufeina Hamed on how comics can change misconceptions and how she illustrates everyday Muslim life

Soufeina Hamed (Tuffix)

Ever since she could hold a pen, talented artist Soufeina Hamed (Tuffix) has been drawing and experimenting with her creative ideas. As her love for art developed, from oil painting, manga, to realistic sketches, Soufeina finally adopted comic art after discovering that this would be the ideal medium for her.

Since then, she has produced an interesting collection of art and comics about everyday Muslim life, culture, religion and identity, with an authentic and humorous twist.

I talk to Soufeina about who her biggest inspirations are, how she smashes through “Artists block”, and how comics can be used as a medium for social and political causes.

Tell us a bit about yourself.  When did you start drawing?

I’m Soufeina, I’m half German half Tunisian. I’m working on my master’s thesis in the field of Intercultural Psychology and I began drawing ever since I hold a pen. I enjoyed trying out different art styles and techniques: oil painting, manga, realistic sketches etc. Finally I found comic art to be the most suitable medium for me.

Who/what are your biggest inspirations?

My biggest inspirations in the field of comic art are Scott McCloud and Craig Thompson. The former, because he managed to present the comic as a serious art genre, and the latter, because he is mastering the medium better then anyone else in my opinion.

You have amazing talent. How do you create your art/comics? And what are the processes involved?

Thank you! I would say that getting an idea that I’m really convinced of, is the most important step. Once I found it, it’s pretty simple: sketching, outlining, colouring and finally texting.

Read more