Created by Iqra Babar
The Character Creation Zone
Hi! My name’s Iqra, and I’m an autistic, Muslim woman of colour with ADHD. I was diagnosed as autistic and with ADHD at 17, and since then, I feel like I’m more in-touch with myself than I’ve ever been. I’m very proud and open about being a Muslim neurodivergent and a Pakistani woman, and always try to advocate for neurodiversity as much as I can.
I’m also very into comic books and superheroes, and it was pretty blatant that there was a huge gap in comic books when it comes to representation outside of the generic ‘white male’ trope. Interested in celebrating my own identity, and knowing that there are so many other people in the world like me, I knew change needed to be made, and it needed to start right now.
Why I’m creating my own comic
Throughout my childhood, I was rarely able to find in books, films or TV programmes someone who looked or thought like me – the closest character I had was Spider-Man. Seeing that I was able to give voice and visibility to people like myself and other minorities and communities, I took the chance to make this a reality. The feeling of seeing someone who behaves or looks like you in a comic book or TV show is overwhelmingly heart-warming, but also extremely necessary.
It’s so important for children to know that there is a place for them in superhero comics, TV, fantasy novels etc., no matter their heritage, race, ethnicity etc. To know that someone like you can and does exist in superhero, Sci-Fi, fantasy settings is so important to minorities. There is such a diverse range of people that exist and showing just one version of humanity is marginalising to everyone else. I wanted to create characters from all sorts of different backgrounds who are able to kick bad guy butt just as much as the next white male hero. You don’t need to fit into what society says you should be to be a badass. Be unapologetically you!
Kids need to be able to know that people like them are able to be crime-fighting superheroes, vigilantes, authors, singers, football players, whatever it may be, just as much as the next generic person. No child should be made to feel excluded from the media or that they don’t belong in novels, comics, poems and other books. Diversity and inclusion matter!
My comic ‘Darjin’ and the characters
Zarifa Nasim is an aspiring carpet racer, who’s had to raise herself up from as young as she can remember. She wants to know what it feels like actually to live rather than just to survive. That all goes haywire after her sister’s murder, as everything starts to become an open door of life and death.
It starts off with just two of the main characters, Zari and her best friend Akeno AKA ‘Ken’. The other three, Sahar, Aryaan and Aakashi slowly fall into the plot as it progresses, and the pair soon expand to a very chaotic group of five.