fredag 1 oktober 2010

The 99 - Islamic transmedia comics/stortelling


"Transmedia storytelling" creates large fictive "worlds", or fictional universes, where fans can spend time both with the TV series, the movies, the comics, the books, the computer games etc.

Henry Jenkins has describe the phenomenon in his book "Convergence culture", where he uses "The Matrix" as an example, and as the topic of one of the book chapters. The Matrix started out as a movie (1999), and later expanded into comic books, video games and animation. The staunchest of fans consume all of these media forms as well as spend time online discussing it, and perhaps even creating fan fiction that extends the stories further (although it is a contested practice).

This thesis topic proposes a study of "The 99", a comic book featuring a team of superheroes based on Islamic culture and religion. These comics are the brainchild of Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, a Kuwaiti, US-based clinical psychologist. From Wikipedia:

"The 99 are ordinary teenagers and adults from across the globe, who come into possession of one of the 99 magical Noor Stones [...] and find themselves empowered in a specific manner. [...] The 99 series aims to promote values such as cooperation and unity throughout the Islamic world."

Based on Jenkins and others' work on transmedia storytelling, how can The 99 be understood and analyzed in a world that holds such a wide diversity of contested and conflicting views about Islam and muslims? What does the emerging media empire of The 99 look like (there is for example already a The 99 amusement park!)? Where is The 99 published, where is it popular, who reads it, and has it had any measurable real-world impact?

Further questions, as well as further discussions about the research question will be discussed between advisor (me) and the student in question (you). I expect the student who wishes to write a thesis on this topic to be muslim (or, very knowledgeable about Islam).


- An article from The Atlantic (May 2010), "Super muslims", is a good introduction to The 99 as well as The Atlantic's "Comic belief: When Islam inspires superheroes" (April 2010).
- An article from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (Februar 2009), "Muslim comics superheroes battle radical islam".
- Read the Wikipedia page and then follow up and check out the Notes, References, External links and In the news.
- Naif Al-Mutawa gave an 18 minutes long TED talk on July 2010 that also gives some background to his own motivation for creating The 99.

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