Umru Ayar: Why The World Needs Pakistani Super Heroes


The amazing guys at Kachee Goliyan (KG) have come up with Pakistan’s answer to superheroism, resurrecting a character from the world of Alif Laila (that’s Arabian Nights for ones not in the know), KG splashed pages of its latest comic book offering with a dose of stereotypical Middle Eastern stories.

A panel from Umru Ayar comic book by the guys at Kachee Goliyan
A panel from Umru Ayar comic book by the guys at Kachee Goliyan

Would It Sell?

What seems like a commendable effort on their part, KG is nevertheless not really sure whether their latest comic book offering would sell or not. The team launched the comic book in two language flavours: English, priced at Rs 300, and Urdu, priced at Rs 200. For these two language formats, the team also used different quality paper, with the English book slightly glossier than its Urdu contemporary.

Understandably, the team launched the book with varying attributes and characteristics only because they themselves aren’t entirely sure of the effectiveness of the books’ sales. Where there might be an audience preferring the English version over the Urdu one, what’s laudable on KG’s part is their disposition towards using comic books as a medium to aggrandise the Urdu language.

What It’s About?

The classic stories of the Arabian Nights that inspire the universe in the comic book and a rich Urdu literary heritage behind the protagonist Umru Ayar, there’s no stone unturned in the comic book.

A concept sketch for the protagonist, Umru Ayar.
A concept sketch for the protagonist, Umru Ayar.

The titular character, Umru Ayar, lives in the mythical land of legend and magic. His satchel, called the Zanbeel, holds anything Umru can conjure up in his imagination (much like Mary Poppins’ bottomless carpetbag). He also has an invisibility cloak, a la Harry Potter, known as the Sulemani blanket.

Although the imagery itself is quite vivid in the literature surrounding Umru, it still begs to see what Kachee Goliyan can achieve in this respect. They have teamed up with Lucid Concepts on the colours for the print. With a fanatic following for these two creative heavyweights in Pakistan, it comes as no surprise that the launch for Umru Ayar: The Awakening was a complete success.

The launch event for Umru Ayar: The Awakening
The launch event for Umru Ayar: The Awakening

First Or Not

Since the launch of Umru Ayar, the media is abuzz with phrases like “the first comic in Urdu” or “the first Pakistani comic book”. But, is this description necessarily true?

Is It The First Urdu Comic?

I cringe when people call Umru Ayar the first Urdu comic, when clearly there had been several efforts in that regard. Syed Mukarram Niyaz, creater of the website Urdu Kidz Cartoon has already spent a fair amount of time translating classic comic strips to Urdu.

A panel from the Umru Ayar comic book in Urdu
A panel from the Umru Ayar comic book in Urdu

The first ever indigenous Urdu comic book that I can think of was Hatim Tai, which came out in 2002, with initial copies sold only through Liberty Books. I have had a hard time trying to find copies of that comic but in vain. However if KG manage to pull this off, this can definitely become the first Urdu comic book “series”.

Mythological Themes

The comic isn’t even the first Pakistani comic with mythological Middle Eastern themes, e.g., jinns and fairies, etc. There has been some endeavours before as well. Jamal Khurshid created Wahid in 2011 – a comic dedicated to similar mythological themes. You can see a conceptualisation of this comic book on his DeviantArt page.

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2 comments

  1. Thank you for mentioning my efforts. yes i spent a lot of time in urdu translation from english/hindi. although it was/is not so difficult for me as i am basically an urdu writer.

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