Graphic designer Umair Khan is creating badass desi superheroes and it’s amazing.
If you guys don’t know of Umair Khan, you’re missing out. BIG TIME.
Umair is a 25-year-old, insanely talented digital artist from Karachi who is currently based in Islamabad. He’s gone viral on social media because of his brilliantly composed Pakistani superheroes.
Thanks to Umair, Pakistan, and its very diverse culture and ethnicities are getting due representation. He put forward this idea first through his fruit drink cans in which he represented different regions of Pakistan through the local fruits grown there.
Wanted to mix my illustration and design skills to celebrate the diverse culture of Pakistan.
Let me know what you think! pic.twitter.com/Zi7p81VgMB
— umair. (@UmairNajeebKhan) September 5, 2019
He paid great attention to details and it shows.
Recently, he launched a new project and it has taken the internet by storm. It’s his own line of desi Pakistani superheroes. Each from different regions of the country.
In an exclusive interview with MangoBaaz, Umair opened up about his work:
“I have always been fascinated by superheroes and I always wanted to see them in Pakistan. Some content along those lines was produced but never really caught the eye. So recently before this unnamed series, I did another personal project based around 6 ethnicities and their cultures. I loved how well it was received by people and it made me want to do more along those lines and the idea just popped from there. I started working on Marvi, my first character, and the list just kept growing from there.”
Here’s Marvi, the combatant.
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He’s out with 4 characters as of now, each one completely different from the other. But, there are more to come.
“At the moment I have 10-12 characters on my list that I am working on and two more in the pipeline. Each coming from a different background and city with their backstory and uniqueness that they bring to the team. So there is definitely going to be 10 solid characters from 10 different parts of the country,” Umair revealed.
Sofiyan was the second hero he posted about.
Followed by a super cute techie, Bazira.
And then the most recent addition to the series was the electrifying duo of Shahvez & Shahnawaz.
See what I did there?
“The series is basically for representation and inclusiveness. Pakistan has a very rich culture that usually does not get highlighted or if it does, it isn’t enough. I want to bring that to the forefront with these and produce new content of course,” Umair stated.
Umair has devised a multistep process for the creation of his characters. He explained how there are three layers to all the characters he works on, with their ethnicities and regions of origin being the first. Then come the physical details, for there is also a great degree of diversity within that, and it has to be inclusive. Finally, the last layer consists of their shared goal: being Pakistani and fighting for Pakistan.
“In all of this, I want people to see themselves,” Umair states.
“My intention is not to limit people to just their backgrounds or cities. Tech-savvy people can see themselves in Bazira too. I want all children to look up to Marvi. Hence all the layers to the characters and the stories.”
Going all out on details in this dress I’m bout to make ✌🏼 pic.twitter.com/GOkL8t7M2v
— umair. (@UmairNajeebKhan) September 15, 2019
He really wasn’t kidding when he said this.
In this house 🏡 we go extra af with details pic.twitter.com/G6il7COFph
— umair. (@UmairNajeebKhan) September 19, 2019
Upon being asked where his ideas come from, he had the following to say:
“I tend to observe people. That’s usually where my character designs come from. From my surroundings. And for these (superheroes), I have been heavily researching reference ideas for the dresses and accessories. Sometimes it takes me 3-4 hours. Sometimes, a lot more. Some of these have crazy details on the dress. Especially the female characters and coloring the intricate patterns take a lot of time.”
An immortal Seraiki time traveller from Bahawalpur who manipulates sand?
Next original character to join the team 💫 pic.twitter.com/7xXOZ98Pzs
— umair. (@UmairNajeebKhan) September 14, 2019
What makes his characters even more exciting…
…are their incredible backstories.
The internet has been loving his work
“My work so far has been received very well. I don’t see anything I have gotten backlash on. Not yet. But yes it does pay off. For an artist, or if I talk about myself, it is a big deal when people praise my work. And especially with the current project, I have loved the reaction so far. I love how involved people are. They are invested in the characters and concept already. They are guessing backstories. Suggesting characters. It’s lovely to witness this.”
Marvi proved to be a public favorite
this is amazing?! so after she sweeps the local goons with her combat skills does she rise to face the ultimate boss the feudal lord of that town
— Uzzi (@pindhfloyd) September 14, 2019
Gandaasa girl steals the show
— Shahid Hassan Warraich (@shahidhassanwar) September 20, 2019
I love her shoes.
— Reem #AleppoForever (@iReemSKhan) September 11, 2019
— legendary master KAMINI⚡️churail dramybaaz auntyy (@idgafath) September 20, 2019
Ali Gul Pir also had questions
— Ali Gul Pir (@Aligulpir) September 12, 2019
Umair told us he’s been drawing since he was a kid and started digitally drawing and designing back when he was in college. Then he enrolled himself in Iqra University Karachi where he did his major in animation. He said a lot of it was self-learning and YouTube.
Talking about his journey he said ” I have been doing commissioned for a while now. I usually design for films, both local and foreign. I did publicity design for Chupan Chupai, Pinky Memsaab, Kataksha, and Tevar recently. I was working for some time but I work freelance only now. Currently working on two other projects besides the superheroes.”
One of my personal favorites is his animated music video, Jhoomta Raha for Assad Hasanain’s song.
His new character is about to come out soon and will be the 5th one.
The next 👀 pic.twitter.com/Z7dwlDQsrH
— umair. (@UmairNajeebKhan) September 20, 2019
He told MangoBaaz specifically that it’s going to be “another fan favorite female character.” And I’m not going to give you any spoilers but she might be from KPK.
He also told us that he’s finished the script for the first issue/story and that he’ll announce the release date for it soon but we suspect it’s going to be around November.
What do you think about his work? Let us know in the comments.
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Cover image via: Instagram/@umairnajeebkhan