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UTF EXCLUSIVE Sohaib Awan Interview

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We here at UTF we were fortunate enough to sit down with comic book writer, Sohaib Awan (Jinnrise).  We covered quite a few bits of ground with a strong focus on his fantastic currently running series (that more people need to buy). so sit back, relax and enjoy.


You can read the latest review for JINNRISE here.

UTF: What’s your process when you sit down to create a new narrative?

Sohaib Awan: I generally begin with the core concepts and landscape of the story. From there, I place characters in particularly places. The topography informs how they act and react.

UTF: When penning a script, where do you begin?

Sohaib Awan: I start by looking at the potential themes that can serve as the basis of the story. These are usually informed by what the characters are going through, and where the story takes place. From there, I try to write for the target audience, balancing action with character development.

UTF: Where did the idea for JINNRISE itself come from?

Sohaib Awan: JINNRISE arose from my desire to introduce staples from international fantasy into comics. I wanted to ground these stories for modern readers by having JINNRISE take place in modern times. The potential conflict between the ancient (represented by the power of the Jinn) and the future (represented by the science of the alien Kibrani) really intrigued me.

UTF: Did you ever have to evolve it to meet the needs of the publisher?

Sohaib Awan: Not really. IDW was excited from the outset. After they saw the strong reaction from attendees at the first ever Middle East Film and Comic-Con, they approached me about publishing the book through them.

UTF: Did they interfere at all with the finished product?

Sohaib Awan: Working with IDW has been a creator’s dream. Any time I’ve asked questions or needed input, Chris Schraff and the other editors have responded with true insight. I can’t ask for anything more.

UTF: When it comes to the artistic side of things in the comic book industry how do you approach it?

Sohaib Awan: I decided that JINNRISE needed illustration akin to animation. The action set pieces had to “pop”, and convey a real sense of motion. I feel that’s a lost art in comics today, and I wanted to bring that flair back.

UTF: How has it been working with Tony Vassallo?

Sohaib Awan: The real joy that comes from working with Tony is that he is a perfectionist. He’s also an artist who excels at the visceral. Tony brings energy to whatever he works on, and that is clear from his work on JINNRISE.

UTF: Did he have a lot of involvement when it came to the final product?

Sohaib Awan: It’s wonderful when an artist takes the descriptions you give, and produces what you envision. That sums up Tony in a nutshell. You tell him what you need or want and he gives it to you.

UTF: When you decided to let a different creative team jump on for the third issue, how much involvement did you have with that particular script by Tom Taylor?

Sohaib Awan: For me, it was important that the aliens be more than faceless, nameless villains. I wanted to give some insight into the backgrounds of the leading Kibrani, and Lahasad-Brim is front and center in that effort. Brim was always meant to be an exile, but his back story was not yet told. I approached Tom and asked him, “Why do you think Brim is an exile?” Issue three of JINNRISE was Tom’s answer.

UTF: There were some heavy themes here when it came to the story of Lahasad-Brim, questions of identity and ones true path that seem to be prevalent in other characters in the text. Was that intentional and are you pleased with the execution of it?

Sohaib Awan: That is certainly one of the running themes in JINNRISE. Each character, at some point or the other in the series, will question their place. Such is the nature of life…we all look for cues and hints of what we should or should not do or be. So far, I’m pleased with the questions being posed, and the seeds of discourse being planted.

UTF: The saga of this particular Jinn has touched on existential as well as political points, is there any particular message you’re trying to really hit home to your audience?

Sohaib Awan:  To be honest, politics are not part of the DNA of this series. However, I do hope that readers come away with the notion that our limited experiences can and do color our perceptions of reality.

UTF: This comic book from the first issue on has had a clever sense of itself within the confines of its pages. Comedy being a vehicle for the representation, was that your original plan or did it happen cosmetically?

Sohaib Awan: For me, subtle humor is best for a series like this. I look at Jeff Smith’s BONE as the template for how to accomplish this. Even when things become dire in that series, there’s a narrative or artistic nuance that puts a smile on your face. If we can pull that off once in a while, I’ll be very pleased.

UTF: So far what was your favorite scene to write?

Sohaib Awan: My favorite scene so far has been the last page of issue #1. For me, it sums up so many things because it really is an eye-opening moment for the characters and the reader. In one splash page, the thematic heart of the series is laid out in the clearest terms: the game of life really IS about us all.

UTF: Is there one character you enjoy working on more than the rest?

Sohaib Awan: So far, I have to say it’s been Yunus. A bright child with such a hopeful view of life and the world…a rare character in comics today. There’s not a trace of cynicism or attempts to be “cool” with Yunus, and I find that so refereshing.

UTF: What’s next for the property after this mini-series wraps up?

Sohaib Awan: Well, the initial series will be twelve issues in total (two volumes of six issues each). I call issue #6 our “Fellowship of the Ring” moment because all the core players are in place, and we are now ready to move into the heart of the upcoming conflict. In September, we return with issue #7 (along with the trade paperback), and plan on wrapping up our first JINNRISE story in December with issue #12. From there, we plan on telling more JINNRISE stories with other creative teams. And, there are already plans for new series based on our characters. From there, other transmedia efforts are planned as well. Stay tuned.

UTF: Any regrets here?

Sohaib Awan: All I can say is that working in the comic book industry is even more rewarding than I imagined. My only regret? I wish I had started earlier.

UTF: Do you have any projects coming down the pipeling? If so what are they?

Sohaib Awan: I plan on telling more stories with the characters from JINNRISE. JINNRISE was created with the hope that other writers and artists could tell their stories within this universe. However, Jabal will be premiering our next series, DRAWN, at the second Middle East Film and Comic-Con. From there, more stories with global creators are in the works. “Bridge building through storytelling”…that’s the goal of Jabal Entertainment.

I just want to close this out by taking the time to thank Sohaib Awan for the opportunity and for his solid answers.  You can catch Jinnrise #4 later on this month.

S#!T Talking Central

  • JemRose01

    Because Jinns are real.