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Interview with Ahmed Alameen
Last week I caught up with Ahmed Alameen. We talked about his comic book The Epics of Enkidu, ancient history and balancing Comic Book writing with your Day Job.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this week. Please tell the readers a bit about yourself and the work you do.
Ahmed Alameen: The pleasure is all mine. My name is Ahmed, and my Chinese name is Hamida, I got that name because I lived there for three years, where I met my wife. I am a writer/artist/filmmaker. At the moment I am working on a comic series titled “The Epics of Enkidu”, which features a superhero with autism, in a sequel to the oldest story found in
Tell me a bit about the inspiration behind The Epics of Enkidu.
Ahmed Alameen: The Epics of Enkidu is inspired by my dear nephew, who is an awesome autistic kid. When I used to play with him I was impressed by how he, unlike most kids, hardly falls down. When he loses his balance he regains it swiftly. I loved that about him. So I imagined that his brain works so fast and it makes his world move slower, making his
reactions much better than other kids. I kept adding to the idea and wanted to make a comic dedicated to him, but I didn’t have a story yet.
That is until I re-read the oldest story found in human history, The Epic of Gilgamesh. In that story, there was another hero with Gilgamesh who, to me, appeared different than other characters. So I re-imagined that character, Enkidu, who was more heroic to me in the story, as an autistic person, and The Epics of Enkidu was born.
Where did writing start for you and what is your origin story?
Ahmed Alameen: My writing started when I met a group of independent filmmakers who were trying to make a low budget movie, but they didn’t have any story yet. I joined them, and when I saw how impressed they were with my ideas, I became warmed to the thought of writing stories. I finally started when a friend of mine called me from a DVD store in 2008 asking me about an idea for a book I wish to write. He thought it was a movie that he was eager to buy and to watch.
That day I sat down and started to write my first novel; Psychs, which became a national best seller in early 2010s where I lived in Kuwait. As for my origin story, I was born as an expatriate. I am originally from Iraq, from the city
of Nasiriya; less than half a mile away from where Gilgamesh ruled in the city of Uruk in the Epic of Gilgamesh. I spent my early life mostly in the fictional world, spending my times in reading, watching movies or playing video games with stories only.
I just love stories in all their forms, and never imagined I would make them until I met those people who wanted to make a movie. I’m thankful for that day, because I discovered the thing I love to do the most; creating stories.
The Epics of Enkidu is clearly influenced by Ancient History and Mental Health but where does the overall comic book genre sit for you? What are your go to’s?
Ahmed Alameen: I would say it is a superhero/adventure story, with some twist on different mythologies from around the world. I honestly don’t prefer a specific genre. If it’s a good story, I’ll read it. But if I have to choose a genre to Go-To, I would say thrillers; something to keep me at the edge of my seat.
What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to your work? How do you overcome them?
Ahmed Alameen: Sometimes I get writers block, especially when I place a character in a very difficult situation. My way of overcoming those writers’ blocks is by leaving my work and focus on doing something else. Just let my subconscious work out the details. I know it might sound weird, but it always works for me. I could be watching a football match or having a
conversation not related to my work and suddenly I pause when the idea comes out.
How did you go about finding the right artist to work on this project?
Ahmed Alameen: My encounter with artist Moacir Muniz was by chance. I was working with another artist. A week before the Indiegogo campaign I decided to create a variant art cover and Moacir did it for me. When the Indiegogo campaign became successful, my previous artist told me that he will start inking the comic later than we planned because he had to take care of some personal things.
That’s when I thought about Moacir and he was very eager to join in. He does the penciling and inking, and I do the preliminary sketches and the coloring.
Many of us creators work on projects outside of our 9-5 jobs. Do you have any advice for balancing careers with passion projects/side hustles?
Ahmed Alameen: It is tough, especially these days because the cost of living is higher and it is not easy to find a good job that can help you support your family and do the things you like without having our minds pre-occupied with the real world. But if you have a passion for your creative work and you really believe in your idea, then you will make time.
What works for me is having a schedule to stick with. I can create better if I know when I will be able to work and plan it ahead. So figuring out your weekly free hours is the first step. Try to trim out the time wasting things we do every day, like checking the phone for no reason just because we don’t have anything else to do. Your free time should go to your passion and the things you like, at least have something to post about and not just watch
someone else living their dream.
Another thing I do is what I liked to call the Bungee Jump Commitment. In 2015, before I did my first bungee jump ever, I told everyone that I will be going bungee jumping next week. I couldn’t back out because everyone knew. The same principle applies to creating a comic or any creative work. Show people some pages and teasers and tell
them you are working on your passion project.
You will feel more encouraged not to give up half way through and you will find time to finish your work, in other word, motivation through commitment. And lastly, surround yourself with the people who will support you and help you provide time and mute any distractions you have. I don’t think I would have had time if wasn’t for the support I received from my beloved wife.
Do you have any upcoming events/projects/releases you would like to discuss?
Ahmed Alameen: I do, actually. I am working on my second issue of The Epics of Enkidu, which I plan to get funding for through Indiegogo again. I am also working on a video game with a fellow video game programmer from Iraq, I am the writer and the puzzle designer for that game, and on January I will be releasing a Lovecraftian horror novella called “Harvest
Nights”, which is inspired by Native American myths and takes place during colonial times.
Thank you for taking the time to do this! Where can readers find you and your work?
Ahmed Alameen: My comic will be available on Amazon, and soon the second issue will be on Indiegogo, so they can hopefully support our autistic superhero and keep our adventures going in these epic tales.