Wham! Bam! Islam! Comes to Independent Lens October 13, 2011
Imagine America without comic books. Kind of hard, isn’t it? Comic books are right up there with whatever’s American—apple pie, Chevy, rock ‘n roll—and are a taken-for-granted part of American culture. So much so that we forget that what is everyday in America is not part of every culture. For example, comic books and superheroes were never an integral part of Islamic culture.
On Thursday, October 13, 2011, Independent Lens (PBS) will premiere Wham! Bam! Islam!, an independent film about the creation of a comic book based on Islamic beliefs and featuring 99 super heroes. The 99 is the brainchild of Kuwaiti entrepreneur Naif Al-Mutawa, who combined a desire to bring a more realistic vision of Islamic beliefs to the public with a desire to make a few bucks. Each of the 99 superheroes represents a quality of Allah, such as kindness and generosity.
Directed by Isaac Solotaroff, Wham! Bam! Islam! follows the ups and downs of launching the comic book, getting financing, obtaining approval from various governmental and religious groups, and marketing. While Al-Mutawa’s goal was to combat Western prejudices and provide positive role models for Muslim youth, there are lessons for all aspiring entrepreneurs in his experiences.
While The 99 is so popular it has inspired theme parks and television shows, it hasn’t been as easy a sell in America. Wham! Bam! Islam! sheds light on the stumbling blocks to its penetration of American television and its creator's hopes for its future.