Last season, Frontline/World ran a story from the Middle East that introduced viewers to the fastest selling comic book in the Arab world, The 99. The comic features characters with super powers based on the concept of Allah's 99 attributes, including wisdom and generosity, as taught in the Koran. Its creator, Naif al-Mutawa, is a 36-year-old from Kuwait who was educated in the United States and who, as a boy, devoured Marvel comics and the Hardy Boys mysteries.
Reporter Isaac Solotaroff followed al-Mutawa as he marketed his comics throughout the Middle East, hoping to spread a moderate, modern image of Islam to the world. In this update, Solotaroff catches up with al-Mutawa in Jakarta, Indonesia, where the comic creator is trying to sell his work to the largest Islamic country in the world, a country that accounts for one in six of all Muslims worldwide. An ensuing documentary, Wham! Bam! Islam!, is in the works. Go, Isaac!
Even more compelling will be to see how the Islamic comic fans evolve. Will the cosplayers take it to the next level? Spirituality already underlies many a Manga. And, apparently, you can even see lotsa hijabi girls in Malaysia attending cosplay events. Could cosplay become the common ground the world needs? Can kids who think change the world? In our own research we've found the cosplay kids to be some of the most open-minded serious global thinkers. It belies the initial impression often viewed simply as kids in costume. These are not the Star Trekkies of past generations.