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County Mike
04-28-2010, 12:46 PM
http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/04/27/kuwait.comics/index.html?hpt=C1


Washington (CNN) -- Kuwaiti publisher Naif al-Mutawa is having a week even his comic book superheroes might envy.

On Monday, President Obama singled him out for special praise for promoting international understanding with his "The 99" comics.

"His comic books have captured the imagination of so many young people with superheroes who embody the teachings and tolerance of Islam," Obama said.

And on Tuesday, Mutawa was treated like a rock star at the president's Summit on Entrepreneurship, with people lining up to get his flashy, superhero-embossed business cards and polite words of encouragement.

The summit, a couple of blocks from the White House, is a follow-up to a speech in Egypt in June 2009 in which Obama sought to reach out to the Muslim world and offer specific help, mentoring and investment -- and try to polish the U.S. image. Scores of business experts and wannabe entrepreneurs traveled to Washington from the Middle East, Indonesia and other Muslim-majority regions.

The September 11, 2001, terror attacks inspired Mutawa to find a way to change what he worried were dangerous exaggerations and misperceptions about mainstream Islam.

The comic's title -- "The 99" (from 9 times 11 equals 99) -- tells how 99 superheroes from across the globe team up to combat villains.

They succeed only if they work together.

There is no religion in the story line, Mutawa said, but he studied the Quran to find archetypes -- what he calls basic human values like trust and generosity -- that he weaves into the dramas.

"We've gone back to the same places that other people have pulled out negative messages and in their place put positive, multicultural, fun messages," Mutawa said.

Mutawa, who has multiple advanced degrees from U.S. universities and worked as a clinical psychologist in New York, spends time in both the United States and Kuwait. He describes himself as "a part-time New Yorker" with lots of back and forth.

"I wanted to build something that made a difference," he said about what inspired the comics. "I also have five boys, and I wanted to make a living."

Mutawa said the comics explore shared values more than individual religious experiences and create what he calls "an alternative universe where kids feel glad where they are."

The comics are printed in eight languages, including Arabic and English, and are for sale across the Middle East as well as China, India and the United States.

"The 99" can be found online and already has spun off a theme park in Kuwait. Mutawa said he is about ready to announce the U.S. release of an animated version, with word expected soon from a well-known American distributor.

"The animation series will be announced next week. We will be in your living room. We'll be in your living room, and you're going to want to watch it," Mutawa said between interviews and congratulations. "Because it is fun, it is exciting, it is top animation quality. The characters are from 99 countries, including the U.S.

"They are all heroes, they work together to make the world a better place, and that's the way it should be."

Mutawa said he "melted into his seat and felt I couldn't move" when Obama said his name. "I was very proud. I was also very humbled."

A recent issue of "The 99" is set in the Philippines, where an international relief agency is under attack by Death Merchant. With plenty of action -- and blazing color and "THWOOM" and "KA-POW" -- the superheroes fight the bad guys and also talk up contemplation, spiritual growth and even the importance of mathematics. In his "Naif's Notes" at the end of the comic, Mutawa drives home his teamwork message.

"Working together is the ultimate key to success for each member of the 99," Mutawa writes. "However, like us, the members of the 99 need to be constantly reminded of this lesson. ... When people work with and help each other, the world is always a better place."

The White House seems to be keeping up with "The 99."

"After my speech in Cairo, he [Mutawa] had a similar idea," Obama said Monday. "So in his comic books, Superman and Batman reached out to their Muslim counterparts. And I hear they are making progress."

rockdawg21
04-28-2010, 01:27 PM
His comic books have captured the imagination of so many young people with superheroes who embody the teachings and tolerance of Islam.

There is no religion in the story line, Mutawa said, but he studied the Quran to find archetypes -- what he calls basic human values like trust and generosity -- that he weaves into the dramas.
I don't think the CNN author wrote this very well.

Aside from the 2 things quoted above, they actually seem like very interesting comics.

NateR
04-28-2010, 02:10 PM
Could you imagine the backlash George W. Bush would have received if he had taken the time to endorse a comic book with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economic crisis, double-digit unemployment and the immigration nightmare going on? Our former President caught enough flak for playing golf and yet Obama is spending his time reading comic books? The double-standard doesn't surprise me anymore, but it never ceases to amaze me.

County Mike
04-28-2010, 02:45 PM
I think the author of the article really played down the muslim influence of this comic. Not surprised that our "swears he's not a muslim" president endorses it.

Vizion
04-28-2010, 03:48 PM
I like how he implies that Muslims are generous.

How many Muslim groups do you ever hear about feeding the hungry? I can think of no time a Muslim group has championed some humanitarian cause, yet they are generous :rolleyes:

MattHughesRocks
04-28-2010, 04:43 PM
He was taking time to distress:laugh:Could you imagine the backlash George W. Bush would have received if he had taken the time to endorse a comic book with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economic crisis, double-digit unemployment and the immigration nightmare going on? Our former President caught enough flak for playing golf and yet Obama is spending his time reading comic books? The double-standard doesn't surprise me anymore, but it never ceases to amaze me.

flo
04-28-2010, 06:08 PM
Could you imagine the backlash George W. Bush would have received if he had taken the time to endorse a comic book with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economic crisis, double-digit unemployment and the immigration nightmare going on? Our former President caught enough flak for playing golf and yet Obama is spending his time reading comic books? The double-standard doesn't surprise me anymore, but it never ceases to amaze me.

I'm used to the double standard too, I expect it, but it just makes me angrier.

I do believe a few members of the press are slowly peeking around the hopey-changitude blinders, however.

Spiritwalker
04-28-2010, 06:45 PM
When I saw the story on CNN.. I just thought that ..WOW..B.O. doesn't have anything more important to be doing at this time...


Could you imagine the backlash George W. Bush would have received if he had taken the time to endorse a comic book with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economic crisis, double-digit unemployment and the immigration nightmare going on? Our former President caught enough flak for playing golf and yet Obama is spending his time reading comic books? The double-standard doesn't surprise me anymore, but it never ceases to amaze me.

Play The Man
04-30-2010, 04:46 AM
I like how he implies that Muslims are generous.

How many Muslim groups do you ever hear about feeding the hungry? I can think of no time a Muslim group has championed some humanitarian cause, yet they are generous :rolleyes:

One of the five pillars of Islam is Zakat, a form of alms-giving of 2.5% of income. Islam does demand a degree of humanitarianism. The problem is that the money is often used for terrorism, as in the Holy Land Foundation criminal case. Money from Muslims was being channeled to Hamas to buy arms to commit terrorism against Israel.