I feel Bangalore is the Comic Capital of India,” says Mohammed Ali Vakil, author of The Wise Fool of Baghdad, who recently dispalyed his collection at the Comic Con Express Bangalore. Explaining his love for comics, he says, “We’ve been avid readers of comics since a young age.
Just like many others, we grew up reading Amir Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Tin Tin and Asterix. ” When asked why he decided to write a comic on Sufism, he said, “Sufism is the spiritual dimension of Islam.
We found comics to be a wonderful way to express our stories, thoughts and ideas in an appealing way.” The author learnt spiritual stories at Madrasah as a kid. “These wonderful stories of love, sacrifice, faith, bravery and truth became our moral compass to teach us right from wrong.
As they’re not so well known we thought of sharing them with our friends,” he says. The author feels that most of the books that are available are written in a serious way, and often difficult to read. Sufi Comics makes these subjects easy to understand, and share with others.
“Everyone at some point in their lives reflect and ask the important questions that really matter like “Why am I here?” “What’s my purpose in life?” “What happens when I die?” “Where is there suffering?” “How do I deal with suffering?” They will find in Sufi Comics answers to these questions from one of the great living traditions of our times,” he says.
Talking about the changing trend in India where comics are concerned, he said, “Most Indians in the cities have grown up reading comics by Amar Chitra Katha.
The new trends that we’re seeing are comics that are longer in length (called Graphic Novels) and deal with more serious themes like politics and social issues. This is a very positive trend, as the visual medium is a very powerful way to express stories.
” An accountant by profession, Mohammed didn’t have any formar training in art. “I knew I wanted to create Sufi Comics, so I started improving my drawing skills by practicing, and started creating short Sufi comics,” he says. The second book is a collection of stories form 8th Century Baghdad. The art and layout of the comic was inspired from Persian and Turkish miniature paintings.
“The main challenge was using the right art for the theme of the book. After each story we’ve included sacred verses of the Quran and sayings of the Prophet in Arabic Calligraphy,” he says.