Drawing on experience

Another successful Middle East Film and Comic Con event took place in Dubai last month, showing the world the strength and diversity of the region’s popular culture offerings. One of the exhibitors, Mai El Shoush, tells StartUp how meeting people at last year’s inaugural event led to her breaking into the world of comic books herself with her debut series, Drawn

April this year thousands of film and comic book fans made their way to Dubai Marina Club for the second annual Middle East Film and Comic Con – a celebration of popular culture complete with cult celebrity appearances, comic book creators, exhibitors from around the world, and a whole host of activities, games and competitions.

Building on its highly acclaimed debut in 2012, the 2013 MEFCC saw even more people both attending and exhibiting at the event, many dressing up as their favourite film or comic characters, making the two-day convention a colourful spectacle of the creative arts.

One of the exhibitors during the lively weekend was Mai El Shoush, whose story is a true example of how following a passion can lead to amazing results, and serving as a lesson to those of us who are reluctant to act upon our impulses.

El Shoush is the creative force behind one of the region’s newest comic books, Drawn, a mythical adventure rooted in the history and culture of henna. But just over a year ago her storytelling ambitions were nothing more than a pipe dream.

The Sudanese-born, British-bred Dubai resident of ten years was on a routine job for the newspaper she writes for, she explains, when inspiration raised its head.

“I was covering last year’s MEFCC for work and did a preview for it. The preview was published and I decided to check out the event to see what it was all about. While I was there I came across so many interesting people both regionally based and from around the world who are doing some amazing things.

“One of the people I had spoken to for the preview was Sohaib Awan of Jabal Entertainments, and I spoke to him at the event. We stayed in touch. He was really passionate about finding talent here and telling stories with a Middle Eastern twist that appeal globally.

“I spoke to the organisers a few times and they said that if I’m so interested in comics then why don’t I do something myself? So I said OK!

“Since school I’d had a passion for creative writing and storytelling. I had always been interested in it, but never had the opportunity to do something about it.”

With this newfound confidence and drive, El Shoush set about gathering ideas for her project.

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