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Comics A.M. | ‘The 99′ creator questions reports of Saudi ban

The 99

The 99

Legal | The creator of the Islamic superhero comic The 99 says he hasn’t been officially notified of a reported ban of the animated adaptation of his comic in Saudi Arabia. “Nobody ever contacted me, nobody ever asked me any questions,” Naif Al Mutawa says. There have been numerous Twitter campaigns against me for a while now and so for me it’s not new. Maybe it is true this time, but I find it very difficult to believe that a group as influential and high profile as them [Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta] wouldn’t recognize the good that The 99 has done for Muslims around the world.” He adds that the comic has been available in Saudi Arabia for seven years, while the cartoon has been airing for two and a half years, making the timing of a ban “a bit weird.” [Gulf Business]

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Saudi Arabia bans ‘The 99′ animated series

the99The government of Saudi Arabia has banned the animated adaptation of the comic The 99, saying its representations of Allah’s names and attributes cannot be tolerated.

Based on Islamic concepts but intended by creator Naif Al-Mutawa to promote universal values, the comic features 99 ordinary teenagers and adults from across the globe who become imbued with magical powers. The title and premise refers to the 99 names and attributes of Allah.

According to Dubai’s Gulf News, Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta issued its decision in response to a complaint about the series’ broadcast on the Saudi-owned television channel MBC3.

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State Department webchat to focus on superheroes

superheroes-at-state

Superheroes will move into the diplomatic spotlight Wednesday morning in a webchat hosted by the U.S. Department of State.

Called Superheroes@State, the live event will feature a discussion about comics and superheroes “as they relate to shared values in countries around the world,” with Comic-Con International’s David Glanzer joining Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan in the CO.NX studio. Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, creator of the Islamic superhero comic The 99, will participate remotely from Kuwait, while artist Dan Panosian will select his favorite submissions from an earlier contest.

CO.NX is a digital diplomacy team with the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs designed to engage audiences worldwide through webchats.

Superheroes@State is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. ET.

The 99 get its own iOS app — and webstore

In addition to its flagship Comics reader and single-publisher apps, comiXology has a number of iPad apps devoted single properties, such as Scott Pilgrim and The Walking Dead. Now the Islamic superhero series The 99 joins the ranks with their its iPad app and webstore, both powered by comiXology. Interestingly, while comiXology has created several dedicated iOS apps for different properties, this is only the second time company has created a single-property webstore.

The 99 was created by Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa as a way to promote peace and understanding; the title refers to the 99 names of God, and the characters are envisioned as role models embodying Islamic values that are shared by other cultures. We asked comiXology CEO David Steinberger to talk to us about this new addition to the line.

Robot 6: I know you have done single-property apps before, like Scott Pilgrim, and publisher and retailer webstores, but is this the first single-property webstore?

David Steinberger: We did a Transformers dedicated Web Store a few months back, but that’s the only other one. In that case, it was starting a new relationship. For this one, it’s that this is a special property — the only one from Teshkeel — and together we determined it should be sold directly on their site.

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Wonder Woman #122

Passings | Veteran inker Mike Esposito, who teamed with childhood friend and frequent collaborator Ross Andru on such DC Comics titles as Action Comics, Wonder Woman and Metal Men, passed away Sunday at age 83. To conceal his Marvel work from DC, Esposito used the pseudonym Mickey Demeo, inking John Romita Sr. on The Amazing Spider-Man and Jack Kirby on The Hulk. Andru later joined him at Marvel on Spider-Man. [Mark Evanier]

Publishing | Kuwaiti entrepreneur Naif al-Mutawa, whose Muslim-superhero comic The 99 recently met with absurd, manufactured controversy, is profiled just as DC Comics prepares to debut a crossover with the Justice League: “It seems likely that a media firestorm is brewing. On forums last week, DC comics faced accusations of ‘Muslim pandering’ and ‘treachery,’ but that’s the salient feature of The 99, not just that they’re superheroes from four continents fighting crime wherever they find it, but that they – and Mutawa – have to fight enemies and overcome resistance from both the east and the west. ‘One of the tough things is that people always think I’m working for someone else. In America, it’s like, “Sure, they’re private investors.” Back home, they think I’m working for the Americans and here they think I’m working for some sort of Islamic agenda’.” [The Observer]

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Andy Khouri defends The 99 (sort of)

At Comics Alliance, Andy Khouri has penned a vigorous defense of the comic series, The 99 which sets out to provide positive role models for Islamic youth but is raising objections from commentators who claim it is really part of a sinister plot to brainwash our children and impose Sharia, Islamic law, across the country. Khouri starts by pointing out that this entire argument is nonsense.

In reality, Sharia is not a by-the-books law but more of a set of social and political beliefs practiced by Muslims around the world, who differ on the details depending on where you go and who you talk to. What’s generally true across the board is that Sharia is about being culturally conservative, behaving very modestly with respect to sex and money, and practicing a high level of courtesy and reverence for one’s neighbors.

But even by this most unspecific definition of Sharia, “The 99′s” connection to Islamic law seems tenuous at best. The reality is that Superman himself operates in a way that would be very agreeable by most mainstream interpretations of Sharia, and it is with pronounced irony that conservative Americans, particularly those in favor of living life like we’re all Boy Scouts, react so hatefully towards Muslims, who are truly their allies in this regard

Khouri, who grew up in Abu Dhabi, also points out that indoctrination isn’t as easy as all that. It’s an excellent, thoughtful piece and well worth a read, even though he ends by pointing out that while the cartoon may be harmless, it also isn’t very good.

JLA/The 99 #1 hits in October

JLA/The 99 #1

JLA/The 99 #1

More than a year ago DC Comics announced a JLA/The 99 crossover, featuring DC’s flagship team meeting up with Teshkeel Comics’ Muslim superheroes. Now DC’s The Source blog has revealed not only the cover to the first issue–hey, check out the new threads on Wonder Woman– but also the creative team and the release date. The first issue of the six-issue mini-series, by writers Stuart Moore and Fabian Nicieza with art by Tom Derenick, comes out in October.


Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Tintin in the Congo

Tintin in the Congo

Legal | A Belgian court will rule next week whether Herge’s 1931 collection Tintin in the Congo will be banned because of its depictions of native Africans. The decision, originally expected today, following a nearly three-year-old effort by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, a Congolese man living in Belgium, to have the book removed from the country’s bookstores, or at least sold with warning labels as it is in Britain. [Guardian, Mail Online]

Libraries | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson reports on a C2E2 panel devoted to helping librarians deal with public challenges to graphic novels. On a related note, she also talks to Jeff Smith about a Minnesota mother’s attempt to have Bone removed from libraries in her school district. [Publishers Weekly]

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Justice League to meet The 99 in upcoming mini-series

The 99

The 99

DC’s The Source blog announced today that the Justice League will meet Teshkeel Comics’ The 99 in an upcoming mini-series. Fabian Nicieza, who is no stranger to either set of heroes, will write the book (CBR spoke with Nicieza about the project back in 2007). The release date and artist will be announced at a later date.

From the Source:

THE 99 team, which debuted in June 2006, was recently identified by Forbes Magazine as one of the “Top 20 Trends Sweeping the Globe.” Not too shabby, huh? In THE 99 — created by Naif Al-Mutawa — are a team of superheroes, including Jabbar the Powerful and Noora the Light who must collect 99 gems encrypted with the wisdom and power of the ancient Dar Al-Hikma library of Baghdad, which are spread across the globe.

They even have their own theme park, and a cartoon is in development.

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