American, Syrian Youth Create New Comic Book Hero
NEW DELHI -- Liquid Comics and Open Hands Initiative, a U.S.-based nonprofit dedicated to public diplomacy efforts, announced Saturday the launch of a new comic book that will introduce children around the world to The Silver Scorpion.
An Arab teenager who loses his legs in a tragic accident, The Silver Scorpion's powers include the ability to “help build bridges between the youth of America and the Arab world, starting with Syria.”
Liquid Comics was originally founded as Virgin Comics, with its backers including New Age author Deepak Chopra, his son Gotham along with Sharad Devarajan and Suresh Seetharaman. New York-based Liquid has an extensive studio in Bangalore and the company has also launched a variety of comic book titles based on various Indian themes such as the epic Ramayana and the Buddha.
The first issue of the Silver Scorpion will be distributed for free across comic book retailers in the United States Saturday May 7 as part of Free Comic Book Day, in addition to digital versions via various outlets.
“As the Arab world is undergoing historic and transformative changes, the American people can, and should, play an important role in strengthening and deepening the relationships between the people of our two cultures,” said Open Hands Initiative co-founder and chairman Jay T. Snyder. “This comic book is an act of public diplomacy, a gift from the young people of America and Syria to the world.”
The Silver Scorpion tells the story of an Arab teenager, Bashir Bari, who loses his legs in a tragic accident. But when he accidentally witnesses the murder of Tarek, a mysterious local metalsmith, Bashir is unwittingly chosen as the new guardian of an ancient power that has remained hidden for centuries.
In August 2010, Liquid Comics joined the Open Hands Initiative to take a group of American youths with disabilities to Damascus, where they met with a group of young Syrian counterparts at the first-ever international “Youth Ability Summit.” In workshops led by Liquid Comics and disability experts from the Victor Pineda Foundation, the children were asked to work together to create an original superhero that reflected their cross-cultural values and ideals as well as the challenges of living with a disability. By the end of the summit, the wheelchair-bound character of the Silver Scorpion was born.
“Our hope is that the Silver Scorpion will also be a positive role model to increase a dialogue and tear down some of the divisive political and social rhetoric between the West and the Arab region,” said Liquid Comics Co-Founder and CEO Sharad Devarajan. “While I hope people enjoy the adventures of Bashir and his transformation into the Silver Scorpion, for me, the more exciting story is how this comic book was created -- from the minds of two very different groups of extraordinary youths who speak to the very best of globalization in the years ahead.”
The 10 American children who participated in the Youth Ability Summit that led to the creation of the Silver Scorpion say Bashir is the character they'd longed to see on the pages of a comic book. "The Silver Scorpion illustrates that no matter if you are in Damascus or Des Moines, at the end of the day, we all share the same hopes and dreams," said Sarah Funes, a teenager from South San Francisco, California.
Syrian students who took part in the summit said that the collaboration with American children was life-changing. "It made me feel that I have to improve my life," said Abdulrahman Hussein, who wants to learn English so he can meet more people and better communicate with his new American friends.
In addition to the U.S. release, 50,000 copies of the Silver Scorpion in Arabic will also be distributed for free to schools and youth centers within Syria, as well as in various countries throughout the region. The comic series will feature additional issues and superheroes in the coming months, including female and Western heroes, who will interact and engage with the Silver Scorpion as he seeks to defeat a mysterious evil.