Islam and Comic Books

I am passing on the following press release:

Islam and Comic Books Column “Comics & Dialogue” Launches in February

January 28, 2014. BOSTON, MA. Beginning in February, ISLAMiCommentary will feature twice-monthly columns from Boston scholar Dr. A. David Lewis on Islam and the comic book medium. The column series Comics & Dialogue: Islam in Graphic Novels expands on Dr. Lewis’s previous work from the American Academy of Religion (AAR) annual conference and the Harvard University Center for Middle East Studies (CMES).

The following advance excerpt was provided from Dr. Lewis’s initial column outlining the goals of the series:

Muslim characters have appeared in American comic books for nearly as long as the market has existed. Yet, little analysis or examination has been devoted to them by Comics Studies and Religious Studies in tandem, certainly little within access of interested readers and informed spectators. The best scholarship on Islam in U.S.-market comics may get lost in unrecognized journals or far corners of the Internet. To remedy this in good faith, these columns will highlight both the latest instances of the medium’s interaction with the religion of Islam as well as the recent history of their engagements.

Lewis notes that it’s no coincidence his columns will begin the same month as Marvel Comics launches Ms. Marvel, their first title headlined by a Pakistani-American teenage Muslim superheroine, Kamala Khan. “I’m very excited for what Willow [Wilson] is bringing to the superhero genre as a writer and as a Muslim. But, as all the press coverage on this development has proven, there needs to be more informed and reliable information about comics and Islam together than can currently be accessed..”

In addition to analyzing this relatively new trend of the mainstream Muslim super-heroine, Lewis will also address in his columns the earliest portrayals of Muslim heroes in comics, grassroots attempts to produce comics featuring Muslims, and particular instances of the medium being used to promote Islamophobia.

“We are excited about this new partnership with Dr. Lewis, and are looking forward to increased engagement of the public and other scholars with his dynamic field of study, “ said Julie Poucher Harbin, Editor of ISLAMiCommentary.

ISLAMiCommentary is a public scholarship forum managed by The Duke Islamic Studies Center in partnership with the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations (UNC-Chapel Hill) and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (a Recognized Independent Centre of at University of Oxford). Supported by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, it aims to inform public discourse and policy on Islam and Muslim communities from a variety of perspectives.

A. David Lewis, Ph.D., is the co-editor of Graven Images: Religion in Comic Books and Graphic Novels, co-author of Some New Kind of Slaughter from Archaia Entertainment, and a founding member of Sacred & Sequential, a collective of religious studies and comics studies scholars.

Of related interest, the British Library blog shared snippets of a medieval “comic book” about Nimrod and other Biblical characters. Here is a sample:

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