Life can be filled with surprises. We all have plans and goals set for our future, find a way to study towards the careers we think we’ll flourish in, and then just… live. But sometimes, you feel inspired to think outside the box and chase after your passions, even if it’s just a project on the side, and you never know what that chase could lead to!
When writer Hisham Najem chose to keep chasing, he found himself pursuing a dream he didn’t even know he had: creating a manga using his own writing coupled with the artistic talents of Indonesia-based Hanna Philip – or as Hisham puts it, “someone who could actually draw – because I’m not the best artist,” he laughs. But how did it all happen? It isn’t everyday you meet someone who pulls a manga out of thin air! “I like anime, I like manga, and I like to think I’m a decent writer,” Hisham dishes, “I also had this idea for a story that I had initially wanted to turn into an anime series or movie, but didn’t feel as though I could manage the funding for it and knew that Sundance would probably laugh in my face, so I decided to start small.”
After some mentoring sessions with Marvel Comic’s Evan Burse, Hisham’s small dream expanded to his first full-fledged manga entitled Shinigami Sensei. This original story tells the thrilling, mysterious tale of a natural born killer (hence the Shinigami aspect, Japanese for “Grim Reaper”) turned teacher (Sensei) trying to escape trouble and move on from his violent past.
Shinigami Sensei has an interesting plot that suggestively raises a lot of current issues regarding war and turmoil, yet manages to avoid the stereotype of religion causing such tragedies with its artful inclusion within the protagonist’s character. “Our hero is raised by a priest and a nun and then a Muslim family. I wanted to bring to the readers’ attention that religion taught my character his best aspects while war taught him his worst. Being raised by religion is what keeps him grounded and makes him want to change throughout.” But we won’t divulge any further and ruin the story for you, as it isn’t even fully out yet! “Well, I know what’s going to happen,” he chuckles when pressed for details, “but the rest of you will have to keep reading to find out!”
The manga releases a new page twice a week, on Sundays and Thursdays, and is only available on the web. “Maybe one day it’ll be published as a book, but not yet. My ultimate dream has been to turn it into an animated series!” and why shouldn’t it be? As Hisham himself puts it, “good stories like this one are meant to be told” – which is why we want to tell this talented writer’s story this month. Read on to get to know the man behind the manga!
TRUTH OR DARE
How would your mother describe you in one word?
How would you describe your mother in one word?
My mother’s love and care exceeds words.
What is the most ridiculous question you’ve ever been asked?
“Do you work for Disney?”
What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
Publish a comic book.
What is your theme song?
Avenged Sevenfold – “Hail To The King.”
What word in the English or Arabic language do you wish you had invented?
Where would you like to live? What is your dream retirement location?
What is the first famous quote that comes to your mind?
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting” -Sun Tzu.
What animal best describes the kind of partner you’d be interested in?
What do you miss about your childhood?
The simplicity of life.
If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
How would you describe your handshake in one word?
What is the toughest part of your character?
Who is your favorite historical figure?
What in the world do you least desire?
What do you think is lacking in the world, which if there was more of would make the world a better place?
Understanding and acceptance of each other.
Why do you think most girls/guys like you?
Because I’m easy going and down to earth.
Finish this sentence: “Happiness is a thing called…”
Are you interested in checking out Shinigami Sensei? Contact Hisham at: [email protected] to get a link!