We Interview Younge At Heart Contributor Safiyya Hosein
This is our final interview with some of the creators from the latest volume of the Toronto Comics Anthology.
We talked with comic writer Safiyya Hosein. Here contribution to the Younge at Heart Anthology is a fantasy based story called 1,001 Torontonian Nights which is about two women that enlist the help of a rookie genie in a desperate bid to keep the Beit Zatoun cultural centre open. The art for the story is done by Gina Basora.
How did you get into comics and creating them?
I’m a comics researcher and ended up reading a particular portrayal of Muslims in a comic series that offended me. When I mentioned it to my friend, Ryan Clement – who is a contributor to the Anthology from last year – he suggested that I submit to the Anthology. He thought it would be great to add my voice to comics, and I’m really grateful for his suggestion. I’ve been exploring creative writing for several years now so I thought I’d give it a try. It seemed like a natural progression.
What specifically about Toronto inspired your story for the Younge At Heart Anthology?
Single-handedly, it was Beit Zatoun. It’s an activist, cultural centre in the Annex that closed down along with the rest of Mirvish Village recently. I miss Mirvish Village – especially Beit Zatoun. The community there was really friendly, and they held such beautiful events.
What were your biggest Challenges getting your story ready for submission?
The story came quite naturally. I was so inspired to create something from my time spent at Beit Zatoun, and it really just flowed from me. I didn’t want Beit Zatoun to close down so the story in my head started with a simple question – “What if you could use magic to keep it alive?”.
How was the submission process?
The submission process was very insightful and not over-the-top. We simply needed to submit a pitch and information about ourselves.
The goal of any comic book creator is to get published. What do you hope having your story published in Younge at Heart will do for your future submissions at other publishers?
I think the Younge at Heart Anthology is unique in the sense that it showcases Toronto in the comics medium. We have a significant comics fan base here, and I’m sure they appreciate a series that features their city. As to my personal writing, I hope that other publishers see my interest in adding to the portrayals of Muslims in comics. Currently, there’s a dearth of really innovative portrayals of them in popular culture, except for comics. I hope the trend of featuring them in an inclusive way (like Ms.Marvel) continues.
What is the comic book community like in Toronto?
The comics community in Toronto is dynamic. I meet fans all the time in the comic stores who are super friendly. And the creators are even more interesting. The staff at TO Comix Anthology are very approachable and really are interested in developing your skills as a writer. I’ve met other writers – some who are in the Younge at Heart Anthology who are just as approachable. The community has its own distinct voice and passion, and that is inspiring.
Do you plan on submitting to the next Anthology?
I intend to. Of course, I go completely on inspiration, and I need to have a story in my head which usually begins with something about the city that I’m passionate about.
Any projects you are working that you can talk about?
I’m currently working on a research study that examines Muslim audiences in comics. I won a research grant with the Partnership for Change: The RBC Immigrant, Diversity and Inclusion Project at Ryerson University, for this and I’m grateful for the funding. We’re looking at superheroes like Ms.Marvel and X-Men’s Dust, and the contributions I’ve gotten from participants so far have been illuminating. I’ve also been considering other creative projects as well.
The Younge At Heart Anthology is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for the printing of the anthology. Check out the details and rewards here.