We’re here today with Ebrahim Aldoseri, a graphic artist from Bahrain, for a little Q&A. He’s just released the independent comic book titled Fishman on ComiXology. It’s written with his son, Subah, and his wife, Haya, focusing on more family-friendly storytelling and general silliness. Think of Axe Cop and similar content, it’s fun and there’s a great environmental message in there too. The comic acts like a collection of comic shorts, an anthology. It’s just $1.99 on ComiXology if you’re interested.
Here’s the link to his comic if you’re interested and want to check it out: https://www.comixology.com/Fishman/digital-comic/883796
If you want to reach him, you can email him at: email@example.com
And here’s his Instagram if you want to check out some of the stuff he’s drawing! https://www.instagram.com/i_heart_comics/?hl=en
How did you get started with graphic art and comic books? Was it something you were always interested in?
Yes, always. I don’t remember a point where I “discovered” either of those things. They’re just things I’ve always been doing. With comics, I grew up looking at and eventually reading, this Arabic magazine called “Majid” published in the UAE. It was a kids’ magazine that included a handful of 2 to 4-page comic stories of recurring characters. The stories were rather tame and mundane. I assume that was how I became familiar with the sequential storytelling format. It wasn’t until I was around 8 or 9 that I read my first American comic, and the combination of the comics format with this incredible, dynamic art style blew me away and I’ve been reading since then.
What was the genesis of Fishman? You wrote the comic with your son, Subah, starting when he was six years old. Did it originate as a bedtime story? Or was it always one you told together?
I’ve always tried to show Subah the building blocks of the world around us. I’ve done it partially in an attempt to give him a head start in understanding the world, but mostly to affirm that whether it’s movies, cartoons, or any other form of entertainment, actual people are behind it, meaning he can do it as well if he is willing to apply himself.
When he was 3, I noticed how mesmerized he was with cartoons and animation. I sat him down and asked him to tell me a story, which resulted in a 1-minute nonsensical tale involving Spider-Man, Superman, and a walrus, which I recorded and animated over the following couple of months. I involved him in the process and even had him participate in some of the coloring, but it was most important for me that he saw the daily routine of drawing the individual frames and the length of time it took. The final product is nothing spectacular and quite crude in fact, but I am very proud of it for what it represented (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE_Ubhl7vyY).
So, when he was around 6, I started to notice how characters like Spider-Man seemed ubiquitous. He was on his socks, backpack, toothbrush, clothes, shoes, I mean he was everywhere! And I started to wonder how a child would process that. I explained to him the origin of the character, about Steve Ditko, about how small of a beginning this character had relative to what he’s become. I explained that most of what we currently know as popular starts with a person having an idea and developing it, and if they’re lucky, that idea becomes popular. That’s when we discussed how we can create our own character who may one day reach similar heights, and thus Fishman was born.
When Frog Boy defeats Manfish, there is a crowd cheering for him. They are all recognizable figures, but there’s one face I don’t recognize. Who is that upside-down face in between Superman and Wolverine?
It’s funny that you caught that. That’s a character called Fudholi (meaning ‘curious person’) who would be hidden in each issue of the magazine I mentioned in my previous answer, Majid. My dad would always get Subah the magazine, so he became familiar with this character, and I threw him into the comic as an in-joke. This is what he looks like.
It appears that Subah is a budding writer, is that something he wants to pursue? Does he write other material on his own?
He writes and draws his own folded A4 mini-comics. In fact, the publisher name we settled on, Cool Old Comics, was what he’d slap on his own little comics. I scanned in his design and inked and colored it and made it our publisher name.
I like the focus on the environment in the ‘A Day in the Sea’ story. Is that an important topic for you?
My wife, Haya, wrote that. She’s an environmental specialist, so the subject is very close to her heart. I asked her to write one of the stories because I wanted the whole family involved.
Have you ever found a magical clam? Is this based in reality? If so, I need to know where this beach is!
The funny thing about that is that specific panel was one of the last ones I did. The origin page was the first page I drew, and it was done mostly for fun as I wasn’t sure where I was going with the character. The original panel had him gaining superpowers after eating a lot of fish. I later became vegan and it felt weird for me to keep that in, so I changed it to the magical clam version.
Can we expect more Fishman in the future?
Yes! I have plans for the character, but what I have in mind will be quite different.
What is the art scene in Bahrain like? Is there steady work available for a graphic artist?
Not that big in terms of comics art. I know of one or two people who do comic-style commissions. The “finer” art scene is definitely bigger if we’re talking about oil painting or abstract work.
How was submitting to ComiXology? Where else did you submit your work?
It couldn’t have been easier. They lay out the process very clearly and I only heard back from them twice afterward: Once when it was approved, and again when it was published. I was quite surprised that it only took 30 days from submission to publication.
For physical publishing, I have so far only approached Alterna. I like their business model and love that they use newsprint. I plan on submitting to other publishers as well.
On your Instagram, you reference a lot of different styles like Art Baltazar (Aw Yeah), Gabriel Bá (The Umbrella Academy), and even Pokemon. Who are some of your favorite artists that you take inspiration from?
It really depends on what I’m into at any given point. I recently went through some Frank Miller Sin City comics and it made me want to play around more with shadow and light.
It’s also highly dependent on the project I’m working on and what that requires. I don’t think I ever intentionally try to channel a specific artist’s style in a story, but it’s more that the techniques or shorthand approaches that impress me the most are things that I likely pull out when needed without even thinking about it.
Do you have a playlist for drawing or a certain artist/genre you like to listen to while working?
I find that the less thinking the process needs, the more stimulating the accompanying entertainment can be. When I write, I do so in silence. I wouldn’t be able to think with any distractions. For penciling, I would put on country music, something relatively slow and not too loud. For inking, anything goes in terms of music, although it’s usually hip-hop, especially when inking digitally and mistakes can be corrected easily. When I color, I tend to have movies or shows playing on my other monitor.
What is the most essential tool for you as an artist? Is it a collaborator, an application, social media platforms, or paint utensils? What do you think is most valuable to an artist in comics?
For me, it’s time and discipline, both of which I lack to some degree. I have a fulltime job and, despite my love for it, drawing can be the last thing I want to do after a long day at work.
For a comics artist, the most important skill is telling a story coherently through sequential panels. Many skills will fall under that such as anatomy, perspective, and composition, but without clear storytelling, you’re failing as a penciler.
Do you have any other projects on the horizon that you’d like to plug?
Nothing far enough along, but I have a couple of projects in the works.
One is a retrospective on the Gulf War told from different perspectives, which is something that has always interested me because I wasn’t in the Gulf region during the War.
There you go, if you have any questions for Ebrahim, feel free to reach out to either of us. He has a bright future, and bright present for that matter, so keep your eyes peeled for future work from Ebrahim or Subah in the comics world. And, I’m looking forward to wherever they take Fishman moving forward!