While guest appearances in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and SAVAGE DRAGON, among many other comics, helped President Obama become as sure-fire a sales enhancement as a variant cover by Jim Lee, an actual comic book publisher has done them all one better by getting a real life shout-out from el presidente: Dr. Naif al-Mutawa, founder of Teshkeel Comics, was praised in a speech at Monday’s Summit on Entrepreneurship conference:

“I have to say, perhaps the most innovative response was from Dr. Naif al-Mutawa of Kuwait, who joins us here tonight. … His comic books have captured the imagination of so many young people with superheroes who embody the teachings and tolerance of Islam. After my speech in Cairo, he had a similar idea. So in his comic books, Superman and Batman reached out to their Muslim counterparts. And I hear they’re making progress, too.”

According to CNN, Mutawa was “treated like a rock star” with people lining up for his comic book like business cards.

THE 99, an Islamic-themed superhero group is Teshkeel’s best known project, published in several countries in the Middle East and planned for a cartoon and theme park spin-offs.

While this was the closest encounter comics have recently had at the White House, NPR reporter Ari Shapiro was simultaneously trying to stir up comment by passing along a copy of Devil’s Dues’ BARACK THE BARBARIAN to White House spokesman Bill Burton who responded:

“I liked it because it had few words and lots of pictures, which made it easy to understand.”

Oh dear.


  1. This doesn’t count as an “actual” comic book person.

    Here I was clicking the link and expecting to see Garth Ennis shaking hands with Obama.

  2. I’m just saying that most of the time this al-Mutawa guy gets a mention moreso for being a successful Muslim that doesn’t want to blow us all up and less because of the fact that he’s a comic creator.

    The comic side of things is almost incidental. Search your heart. You’ll find this to be true.

    Don’t get me wrong, having a successful book in what I’m sure is an absolutely bustling Islamic comic book market is a feat unto its own. But when I hear comic book creator coupled with the qualifier “actual” I’m thinking someone with a little more cred that’s all.

  3. I find the assertion that a comics publisher is not a comics publisher because of how the press views him perplexing, to say the VERY least.

  4. I see it as someone bringing new customers into the market who aren’t Caucasian or Asian.
    You can see it as tokenism on the part of the media however you like . It hasn’t crossed your mind that an emerging market is an emerging market–that is is newsworthy in of itself.

    It may surprise you, but I don’t have this idea that Muslim=terrorist in my mind.
    Just like most people in the Middle East, when given the right circumstances, Muslims are very productive and intelligent people.
    If this Muslim comic market becomes more than a phase I won’t be surprised if Muslim comic publishers start reporting more sales and readers than Marvel and DC.

  5. No, it’s tokenism because it’s *not* an emerging market. It’s just one book that you keep seeing mentioned everywhere.

    And why? Because while you and I might not think every Muslim is an extremist a vast majority of people sadly do. And it’s because of that mentality that books like his are relavent. The “Look at this non homicidal Muslim” puff piece stories are going to be around for quite some time. And let’s face it, that’s how this guy got introduced to most of the world. It’s groundbreaking comic book news because it’s Muslim, not on the basis of the comic book itself.

    And at no point did I say he wasn’t a comic publisher. I think the fact that he published a comic book takes care of that. I was just saying that the qualifying term of “actual” comic publisher brings to mind someone of a different pedigree other than “That Guy Who Has the Socially Palatable Muslim Book That Nobody Has Actually Read”

  6. I think Naif’s comics bona fides are pretty well established as a publisher at least. There are several “I want to make a movie” comics publishers who are less qualified.

    It’s also a case of praise the good and condemn the bad.

  7. I think if there’s one thing we can all agree on is that NOBODY likes “I want to make a movie” comics publishers.

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