One to keep an eye on: Asia Alfasi

// 14 June 2007

The question “where are all the women in the comics industry” occurs with surprising frequency in these parts. Add to that, “where are all the women in the British comics industry” and the pickings get slimmer still.

So it was great to hear that up-and-coming talent Asia Alfasi has landed a book deal with Bloomsbury to publish her autobiography in two volumes. You can check out an interview she did on Women’s Hour, then see some of her work over on Maniac Muslim.

Alfasi was born in Libya, then moved to Scotland at the age of 8. Her point of view is likely to be controversial:

“After the 9/11 attacks I realised that there was so much that westerners need to know and listen to another point of view .. and I began thinking of drawing comic strips. When the French banned the Hijab, I made a solemn promise that I will only ever use any artistic abilities I have to defend the Hijab and our chosen way of life within a Western setting… Nobody ever asks US what we think when they have that debate, so I was going to stand up and do just that. To give us a voice, in a field that we have never featured in.”

But before this, she won a major prize for her manga-style work. The BBC has some nice examples.

Her creation, Monir, is a feisty young Arabian from the Muslim Abyssinian times who draws strength from his faith to fight injustice and battle for his family’s survival.

“I went back to my Arab heritage to draw from its design…” says Asia “calligraphy, myths and legends, I tried to incorporate them all into the character. Manga usually features Japanese culture, and I wanted to introduce some Arabian mysticism to the market.”

She goes into her views in more depth in the Women’s Hour interview, which is well worth a listen, and in this slightly-older interview with Comic Bloc. I, for one, can’t wait to read the books!

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