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Vimanarama: British Pakistani saves the world in new comic!
20th February, 2005

by Tina Sharma
Staff Writer

It's time to put down your Beanos and give away your Dandys to make way for a new comic, one that features a British Asian as its main protagonist!

Vimanarama, a new three part mini-series to hit British newsagents last Tuesday, features Ali as a trendy teenager with Sofia, his bride-to-be, as a partner in crime.

Taking its name from a legendary Indian flying machine, the comic is based in a rain soaked Bradford. As a British Asian, Ali finds in difficult to relate to his families traditions and customs. However he feels much better when he finds that Sofia, who he is arranged to marry, is funky and gorgeous.

Things take a turn for the worse when he accidentally unleashes a subterranean army of fossil demons, restarts an ancient god war, and brings the whole world to the brink of destruction. Now, the only person who can save the day is a 15,000-year-old Indian super-man who's fallen in love with Sofia!

The comic book series is illustrated by Phil Bond and written by British author Grant Morrison. The latter, a major name in comic writing, has a 25 year career that includes writing stories for X-Men, Batman and Superman comics.

Morrison says he made every attempt to ensure that the main Pakistani hero and heroine were realistic. So whilst characters include devout women who adorn headscarves, there are also those with a more liberal attitude dressed in jeans and t-shirts.

In an interview with comics website Newsarama, Morrison claims that inspiration for the sci-fi love story came after he began reading about Islam in the aftermath of 9/11, in an attempt to "comprehend the world's political and religious situation a little more clearly."

Although his research into the religion was extensive, the author says this won't be evident in the comic, as all concepts have been translated to be accessible by all audiences. So 'Allah' is referred to in the text as God and 'Hajj' as pilgrimage.

Fully aware that there may be a backlash to his plot, Morrison sticks by his latest creation. "Islam frowns on representational art and I'd imagine that for some sects comics are possibly the most blasphemous art form imaginable", the Glaswegian told Newsarama. "I just liked the idea of taking all the pomp and high holiness of one of the world's great religions…and turning it into a Jack Kirby comic."

With a rich tapestry of illustrations and backing from industry veterans, Vimanarama offers the long awaited arrival of Asians into the world of comic publications. Whether it will be able to help Asians or Muslims break out of mainstream media stereotypes is yet to be seen.


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