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.
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]
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.