Remember the time when you never left for a train journey without carrying a stack of comic books, or spent a summer vacation compiling a stock of these? With comics becoming an integral part of our lives, Imran Azhar of Team Muhafiz decided to use it to launch a war against social evils in his country – Pakistan. He gives us a sneak peek of the Upcoming editions. Excerpts:
Call of the Hour
When violent extremism and religious hatred plagued his city, it was too much for Imran to take. "The country's youth are exposed to extreme ideologies. Thus, an intervention through which these young and impressionable minds are given a positive perspective to counter violent doctrines was imperative.
And comics are the way to do that?
"Oh of course, they are. Two main reasons – It is a self-funded project and comics do not incur huge costs. The visual storytelling format was the way forward to engage youth from marginalised communities," explains Imran, and one has to agree, because the comics reach places where even internet and smartphones don’t.
The Valiant Heroes
"We build characters that the youth can relate to. They are young and fight social evils," Imran adds.
On being asked if the charm of heroes worked, he affirms that it did. It was just a matter of time before the heroes were hailed by the audience irrespective of their religion. And according to Imran, it was a big deal. "I remember the first time when we introduced Zain and Aarya, two of our heroes, some kids asked us why we had a Hindu and a Christian hero. But a few months later, they didn't even bother about the multi-ethnicity of the heroes and focused on their adventures," recalls Imran.
Fighting the Evil, One at a Time
Team Muhafiz's first issue in 2015 was against deforestation and land mafia. They next addressed the harmful effects of drugs, and the third issue dealt with child marriages and the drug mafia. The upcoming issues will revolve around Acid Attack, Polio, Gang Wars, among others.
Beyond Border Disputes
Having an illustrator from India for the first comic book explains that the team doesn't care about territorial boundaries when it comes to beating the odds. "Roy Soumyadipta was our first illustrator and India has many creative initiatives which raise awareness to our social challenges. If we get another, we would love to work with them,” he says.
The Curious Case of Comics
Imran believes that the impact of visual storytelling has not been given its due importance. Comic books are a powerful tool, which can disseminate powerful messages. Sustainability would be the first one on my list, but at the same time, comic books is just the initial platform, our focus is on content itself.
Reach Out: www.teammuhafiz.com/