I went to a local comic book launch on Sunday. For all of you NOT living in Pakistan this is no big deal, another comic book, another day...Yawn. But for Pakistanis, who still lack awareness of this amazing art form, there were a lot of excited geeks as well as clueless inquisitors at the event. Fair enough. I am happy to confide in the fact that I was a very happy geek, yum!

Excerpt from the Introduction in the comic book: "Umru belongs to the world of forgotten heroes of the past, one we heard about as children but have now faded away with the sweet memories of childhood. The comic book tells the tale of Umru and his adventures in and out of the magical realms and mystical paths, fighting his way through Djinns and Demons. By bringing this character back to life we will be bringing out a whole new genre of Pakistani comics".

Umru Ayaar- The Awakening is the brain child of Nofal Khan and Ramish Safa (Kachee Goliyan) which was brought to life through the support of a few others like Hassan Ansari (writer), Saad Hassam(artwork), Mateen Ansari(Business Strategist) and Imran Buxamoosa(Big Daddy because he is pushing the team forward).

When I was young I used to read 'Tilsm-e-Hoshruba' where I first discovered Umru's amazingly witty, smart and mischievous character. I fell in love with that series which is as old as....well really old, sort of like Arabian Nights? The write died in around 1893 so do the math! Other work of fiction inspired by this one were Daastan-e Amir Hamza, Umru Ayaar series and several smaller stories, all with a slightly different perspective about his character, yet all amazingly Umru. At one point there were series of Umru jokes which used to be exchanged and were a trend like 'dumb blonde jokes'.
When I spoke to Hassan he told me they wanted to encapsulate the beautiful imagination of the original fantasy novels yet come up with an original concept. Big challenge but  a new legacy was born.

Nofal and Ramish explained how they have been bantered with the question "so you guys are just making a comic of the original Umru series?" No they are not. Their comic is inspired, yes, but an interpretation of a more intense, complex fantastical world that they have created themselves, which will take us all back to our childhood memories and further create new ones.

I didnt ask too any questions on the launch day because I wanted to read the comic first, think and analyse a little more. I went back today and had a nice chat with the core team (almost the entire team atleast). Other than explaining the story and how it will be different from all Umru related series, we discussed how it will be developed further...get ready for some evil fairies, djinns, demons, elves and other deliciously exciting creatures and realms. I am not going to disclose anything further because nothing will be left for your imagination or for the next comic issue. 

The comic book have been launched in English as well as Urdu, but the main focus will be promoting it through the local language and encorage urdu reading through a more basic and visual form. The team has big plans, just you wait and see!

The overall artwork is crude yet detailed, coloring is done really well by Lucid Concepts, writing has potential of going even more crazier, layout /editing was clean with no hotch potch. I, however, felt that the comic could have gotten away with a few more pages, the story was shorter than expected, or maybe they want to leave us wanting more?

 You can purchase these online as well from here. The English version is for Rs.300 and the Urdu one is for Rs.200. No there is nothing elitist about the English version, the paper quality is a little better, thus the difference in price range, that is all. This was done to test which is better for the long term production. I liked the Urdu one better. 

P.s: For every copy you buy, these guys will be donating a copy to the underprivileged children. You should definitely get a copy and give it a chance. I am already waiting for issue 2 :p

Red Alice