The authors of a graphic novel inspired by the X-Men themes of social inequality are hoping to publish in the UAE to help educate about Islam and religious sensitivities.
David Anthony, of Scarlet Spire Comics, is hoping to take his 88-page comic Journey around the world to break down cultural barriers and alleviate stigma surrounding Islam in some countries.
Mr Anthony, who is of native American, German and Irish descent, is aiming the novel he has written and illustrated at young people and fans of the comic genre.
“My boss was working at a waste management consulting firm in Sharjah when she decided she wanted to go into publishing,” he said.
“She wrote her first story draft and pitched a documentary to the government of Canada, but was unsuccessful.
“She asked me to help with a project that explored the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but we decided that Islamophobia was a more pertinent issue here in the West.
“The protagonist is based on me, as for the other character - he is designed to dress more ‘urban’ something that appeals to today’s youth.
“He was created to show people a devout Muslim can be anyone and does not have a specific look or style.”
Along with the superhero X-Men series of comics, Journey has been inspired by a Canadian cartoon series called Carebus the Aardvark.
The series began as a parody of sword and sorcery comics and progressed to cover wide-ranging topics like politics, religion and gender issues.
Mr Anthony, who has a BA in illustration, spent more than 18 months researching for the project, including travelling to Turkey and Morocco.
Mr Anthony’s trip to Turkey coincided with political unrest, driven by a wave of young people, with anti-government protests outside his hotel.
“To combat problems like Islamophobia you need to educate people through a modern medium,” he said.
“The easiest people to reach are kids and young adults, and they are also the future, so it’s important they see everything in this world with ‘open eyes’.
“I have future plans to visit Pakistan also, where I’ve been invited to teach a comic workshop that has spawned from this comic.
“It’s aimed at comic enthusiasts and the youth - the purpose of the comic is an interesting and engaging way to help people better understand Islam.”
Other titles include Tales of Eastern Exodus, charting the journey of immigrants into Canada and A Man Named Mucahit, a Turkish hero in the Superman mould with Islam in his heart and a resolve to fight intolerance, ignorance and Islamophobia.
The world of graphic novels, comics and superheroes is making its mark on popular culture.
Next month, the annual Comic Con event returns to Dubai World Trade Centre, featuring art galleries, workshops and industry stars from TV and Hollywood, including Natalia Dyer of Netflix sci-fi hit Stranger Things. The event runs from April 5 to 7.
Despite the growing popularity of mainstream comics, Mr Anthony said he has found difficulty getting his work published.
“I have had some opposition in terms of selling it worldwide, and certain publishers have veered away,” he said.
“Given the subject matter - one UK publisher told me ‘It was not the Islamic Comic’ they wished to publish. What that means is anyone’s guess.
“Though it has been taken up by numerous local Catholic and Islamic schools, it has also been rejected by some. Some of the comments made by administrators were rather insulting.”