Taking risks and making bold career decisions can be very tough and risky but if all goes well, it cannot only benefit on an individual level but also positively affect the society or even the entire nation as a whole.
Some people might have never heard of animations almost 30-40 years ago in Pakistan but it is very much a reality nowadays. Similarly, being a Graphic Novelist may seem very odd and unique but in 10-15 years’ time, such a profession has the ability to become a norm. Zain Naqvi is one such individual who took the bold step after graduating from the National College of Arts to become a Graphic Novelist eventually.
The team at Orange Ink decided to sit with Zain Naqvi to answer a few questions in our mind.
For our readers, please elaborate who exactly is Zain Naqvi?
I would like to think of myself as a writer, designer and a graphic novelist. I graduated from the National College of Arts about five years ago. After completing my studies, I worked for numerous startups and clients before I decided to pursue the dream of becoming a graphic novelist. My main area of expertise soon became writing and making comics as well as designing media aimed at children and young adults.
What really fascinates you about being a graphic novelist?
I believe that storytelling through the use of images is really impactful and innovative; another reason why I am really fascinated by the concept of being a graphic novelist is that it lets you connect with the reader on an intimate level. No two readers read the same book. Everyone experiences the story differently. I am really enthralled by the fact that such a career has very low or absolutely no history in a country like Pakistan, so working on something that makes me one of the first to work in the medium really excites me to some extent.
What do readers look for in a good comic?
Honestly it all depends upon the genre as well as the audience of the comic. I can’t really say what excites everyone because as everything else tastes develop overtime and personal likings and dis likings vary from person to person. But generally, people usually look at the characters, their designs and how well the story has been written. That said, the fact remains that good art can bring an audience to a mediocre story. In this medium books are judged on the basis of their covers, at time even lenticular ones.
How big of a struggle would it be introducing the comic culture in Pakistan?
In my opinion, doing such a thing is a huge challenge on its own. Obviously such things take time to solidify their place amongst the people but with the initiatives being taken by the artists and the writers may just speed up the process.
What are your views on the Comic Con held this year? Is it a step in the right direction?
Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the event this year but I heard that it went really well. What really made me happy was the fact that this year the Comic Con was getting a lot of broadcast as well as social media coverage. Other than that loads of big names sponsored the event. This has made me even more hopeful for the future. Yes, I believe this is a huge step in acclimatizing to the concept of comics in Pakistan.
Who is and has been an inspiration for you professionally?
I have been really inspired by all those individuals who have worked in the field both internationally and locally. However, if I had to name names I would definitely say people like Abhishekh Singh have really inspired me because his works have most definitely widened my horizon in terms of content as well as writing style. Also due to the fact that my education and design practice is rooted in art and literature, the inspiration is quite diverse. From Ihsan Danish to Neil Gaiman and from Zarina Hashmi to Will Eisner.
If you could remake one comic, what would it be?
Well, there certainly are a lot of books I wish I had made. Moon Knight by Greg Smallwood, X-men: Grand Design by Ed Piskor, Southern Bastards Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, are all works that while you are reading them give you the constant reaction of why didn’t I think of this. One comic, however, that I would love to remake is Green Lantern #0 which had the first appearance of the Muslim superhero Simon Baz. DC came up with a diverse character way before Marvel had even put forth the idea of Ms. Marvel aka Kamala Khan, sadly due to the lack of in-depth development of his arc the character became a counter-type.
According to you, what 3 words or phrases would accurately describe you as a person/professional?
Hyper, talkative and spontaneous.
What is your favorite comic personally?
I have two to three favorites. Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine, Essex County by Jeff Lemire and of course Blankets by Craig Thompson.
If you could be any comic hero, who would it be and why?
Well I would like to go the traditional route and say Wolverine and Batman but recently I have been quite fascinated by anti-heroes because I believe they are actually good representatives of us people so Magneto is definitely one of the characters I would love to become if given a choice.
How would Zain Naqvi like the world to remember him?
I would like to be remembered as one of those who played a pivotal role in introducing the concept of graphic novels and comics in general, in Pakistan.