‘Pakistan Girl’ Set To Be The First Female Superhero Comic Book To Come Out Of Pakistan

This year was a banner year for female superheroes in film, with ‘Wonder Woman’ bursting onto the big screen and hitting all the right targets. There has been a lot of build-up to the film with other female superheroes, with fans and critics alike wondering over the past few years whether we will ever see Black Widow have her own ‘Avengers’-based spin-off the way ‘Thor’, ‘Captain America’, and ‘Iron Man’ have.

While it may seem like slow progress in the world of major motion pictures, when it comes to the source medium of these characters, comic books, we have seen a flurry of exciting and diverse announcements. Whether it be Marvel releasing comics about a queer Latina, a Syrian refugee mother, or the Pakistani-American Kamala Khan as the new Miss Marvel, or event independent comic book organizations like female-driven Emet Comics and Vortex Inc. comics focusing on traditional African stories and characters. It has become a landscape that seems light years ahead of film and TV.

It is also exciting to see how international comic book organizations and creators are filling a major gap where the larger companies sometimes fail to cater to. One such creator is Hassan Siddiqui, a graphic designer and art director from Islamabad, Pakistan, who is behind the first female superhero comic series to come out of the country, aptly titled ‘Pakistan Girl’.

According to a feature in The Express Tribune, Hassan is also the creator of ‘Pakistan Man’, a series that has been ordered by Harvard University, the library of Congress and is very popular among local schools in Islamabad and Karachi.

Because of this, Hassan decided it was time to launch a female-driven title in order to give visibility to powerful female characters in a country where he says there aren’t many. ‘Pakistan Girl’ follows the story of title character Sarah, a typical young Pakistani woman who likes to read and hang out with her friends. But she also has a secret identity. Sarah discovers she has hidden powers after an accident, and she decides to become a defender of people in need.

Her mission is to give hope and inspire young boys and girls globally to be strong and stand up for what’s right. Hassan teamed up with Ali Hyder, who works at Mano animation studios in Karachi, for the series’ artwork, and is very pointed about his own motivation for creating ‘Pakistan Girl’.

“We wanted her to play a role in gender equality by having a cool female superhero on the front cover of a book. The message of the comic book is that women can also be strong superheros doing the work that’s presumably done by men,” he told the Tribune.

“This young girl is relatable to any and every Pakistani girl who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She’s truly going to be a role model,” he added.

The series was launched on August 22 and is available in comic book stories in Islamabad and Karachi, including Liberty books, Saeed Book Bank, Mr Books, Chaaye Khana.

It is exciting to read about Hassan’s passion for elevating the status of female role models through his work, and his desire to inspire a generation of girls to know they too can be superheroes. The most prominent real life young female superhero to come out of Pakistan is of course Malala Yousafzai, the school girl who was shot by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education. Since her recovery she has gone on to speak passionately at the United Nations about the need to educate girls, win the Nobel Peace Prize, and become an iconic symbol of hope and determination.

While ‘Pakistan Girl’ may not be about Malala, it is important to see more stories about heroic women and girls available for people to read. We take it for granted here in the US as we have a plethora of women to look up to, whereas girls in Pakistan may not have the same type of visual representations. Although the comic book may be a work of fiction, there are numerous studies which show how entertainment and media can have a major impact on the way a young person thinks about their future and their abilities in the real world.

“PakistanGirl will open even more opportunities for women heroes to be appreciated as inspirational role models amid Pakistani society. It will also provide hope for young girls – as in now they will have just as strong a woman superhero as there have been male superheroes in the past. Now they’ll have a hero of their own to look up to,” said Hassan.

You can see more of the images from ‘Pakistan Girl’ in The Express Tribune feature article.




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