David Ferguson chatted to Bijhan Agha, creator of the new science-fiction comic Time Wars: the Adventures of Kobra Olympus, which centres around a young gay, trans and Muslim character. He found out more about Agha’s influences, the comic’s story and the Kickstarter campaign to fund the project.One must wonder what could possibly have impressed upon this writer in WW, seeing how such a classic Golden Age creation didn't emphasize the kind of perversions we see today, where femininity is being villified in women, yet elevated in men. Not to mention that the Religion of Peace practically disrespects femininity when it demands women wear burkas/chadors/abayas at the expense of their health. And the writer of this comic adds insult to injury by emphasizing something WW didn't celebrate decades ago.
As this is a comic book project, what comics did you like growing up?
You know, I didn’t have a lot of money growing up, and by the ’90s, the cost of comics was quite high relative to the page count. So I didn’t get to read a lot of the comics which were being printed at the time.
But we had a local library, the White Center branch of the King County Library System, where they would have these thick comic book reprints using just the black line artwork on cheap yellow paper. These things had to have at least a hundred issues in each volume.
This is where I experienced the classics. Spider-Man from the 1960s. Justice League from the 1970s. Ninja Turtles and X-Men from the 1980s. But the one that influenced me the most, as a young queer person, was the Wonder Woman comic compendium from the 1940s.
What influenced you about these comics, in a good or possibly bad way?
In all comics, I loved the sense of wonder and imagination. There was no attempt to anchor the storytelling in our own world, allowing for a sophisticated and unpredictable mythology. Yet at the same time, the emotional reality of the characters was crystal clear, allowing you to perfectly understand what they were going through.
In Wonder Woman, in particular, I found a celebration of femininity and a clear thesis on what feminine leadership looks like compared to masculine leadership. This message was planted in me like a seed that wouldn’t sprout until I was much older.
For the benefit of those unfamiliar with your comic Time Wars: the Adventures of Kobra Olympus, what would be your ‘elevator pitch’ to readers?What if it turns out those "monsters" are metaphors for non-Muslims? Then this is a most hypocritical production, because it'd be elevating Islam and transsexuality for sainthood, while making "infidels" out to be the baddies. This reminds me of a report on a Muslim "scholar" who accused Jews of what the comic tells about. In that case, what if it turns out these vampires are metaphors for Jews? Shudder.
Time Wars is a universe in which time travellers from the 161st century are coming back in time to help us in the past wage a covert war against the Vampires who are manipulating history to create inequality and strife. Kobra Olympus is a young gay trans and Muslim woman who has been recruited by a time-travelling agent to use technology from the future to fight literal monsters who live in the shadows of society.
I adore cinema and television, and I would love to write for them in the future. But my experience with comic book adaptations and the “cinemafication” of comics leads me to believe that the story being told must fit the medium.This sounds like more virtue-signaling from somebody who read Sean Howe's past commentaries on how too much cinematic approach has ruined modern comicdom, and wants to make it sound like a follower of the Religion of Peace actually respects arguments made by people with far better understandings of what went wrong with comicdom. In other words, we're literally supposed to embrace and adore this writer because he/she is an Islamist?
The medium, as they say, often is the message. For that reason, I tried to abstain from channelling the language of cinema into the comic, and focused on literary and comic inspiration.
The personal part of Time Wars was really engaging – it felt genuinely character driven. Did you feel any pressure to represent your Muslim culture as well as the trans community?Well this sure is classic hypocrisy indeed. All coming from somebody who refuses to acknowledge the verses in the Koran disrespecting women, how honor murders are legitimized under Islam, or how many women in Islamic regimes are forced to wear niqabs, much like the trans-star of the show in focus is, which sure doesn't provide the wearer with an identity. But, this does raise an important point to make: based on Islam's disapproval of homosexuality for starters, a woman pretending to be a man and/or got a sex change operation would not have her claims accepted in a stringent Muslim regime like Iran and Afghanistan, period, and would be forced to wear a niqab, or could be subject to even worse, like execution. Even a male transsexual could experience a horror story under the sword of the ummah.
I hope we someday reach a time when a trans and/or Muslim artist can create artwork which is sincere and true to themselves without feeling like they’re somehow representing others as well.
When a white American man makes an action movie, he doesn’t think about how it will reflect on white people, Americans, or men; he just makes what he likes. But that’s not an option for people who are marginalized by society. When we make art, politics depersonalizes it and makes it either an achievement or a failure of the label we share with others.
When I wanted to make a comic, I decided to emulate the greats. I had two main inspirations for what I wanted to do. On the one hand, outright activism like Dr Marston and Wonder Woman. When he wrote that comic, he did so with the explicit goal of educating young boys on how to accept feminine leadership and treat women with respect.
Then, on the other hand, you have pure self-expression, like Stan Lee and Spider-Man. Peter Parker’s daily misadventures paralleled Stan Lee’s own troubles with women, cars, rent, and more.
Therefore I wanted to tell an exciting and relatable adventure as Stan Lee would, but with the explicit political goal of fostering goodwill for trans and Muslim people in the nerd community, like Dr Marston would. So, my intention was, first and foremost, to make something fun and entertaining but to inject it with my real lived experiences to show how easy it is for everyone to relate to us when given a chance.
So this comic project is little more than an insult to the intellect, topped off by how interviewer and interviewee deliberately make an Islamist look like the smart one to be listened to, all through the lensing of hypocritical double-standards. Or, in other words, taqqiya (deception). Yet based on Islam's ostensible abhorrence for homosexuality, that's why there's little chance the Muslim world in its majority would accept such a propaganda product, which may be marketed more for the non-Muslim world, to serve as deceptive propaganda whitewashing a religion that's very contemptible of femininity, and to make the star of the show a transsexual only heaps on the insults in any event.