Signs and Voices –The Prophecy In Blue debuted digitally on New Year's Day and took the top spot in the Amazon UK Kindle Store for Fantasy Comics. Author Zamurrad Naqvi writes:-
Signs and Voices was an opportunity for me to create a comic world with the usual themes that any good self-respecting comic would have: underground cultures and sub worlds, political uprising, revolt, love and a secret language being eradicated from the society. There is also a totalitarian regime – the Hearing Front – that is in pursuit of a secret source of power that lies in the very community it has set out to destroy.
Some would say this is a story we have seen many times before, where a small minority is being wiped out of existence. So, who makes up this minority? It's simply the deaf community, as we know it today. Not just a brief encounter with one deaf character, but detailed insights into the deaf culture and world. The story world includes an array of deaf characters using sign language, which is relevant and correct in their world.
How did I ever come into writing this project? It began when I was asked to write a life skills booklet in consultation with a deaf focus group. This booklet would then be illustrated into a comic book format. Why a comic format? Well because it is enjoyed hugely by the deaf community yet is usually not accessible enough to them. When there have been occasional deaf characters that have emerged in the comic world their popularity is testament to the fact that there is a huge audience out there that not yet fully catered for.
Also we are faced with the issue of low literacy. So that too has been addressed in the comic, not only because comics are visual but also the language amendments we have made including support structures for our audience to explore, learn and engage with. I was fortunate to be allowed into the deaf world by Sadaqat, ksenia and Neil who have worked with me constantly advising and checking all the deaf cultural references used in order to complete the story. Alongside Saduf, who looked at how to make the text-heavy information accessible to visual language learners. This is the team who approved the final story before we went into production.
The Research and story development above took four years before the series was complete; at that point, CJ Hurtt came on board as the comic writer in order to condense the story and create the scripts, which would then be illustrated into the monthly comic.
Signs and Voices is a comic book that appeals to both the deaf and hearing communities. It is unique and accurate in terms of the deaf world plus it is accessible for the hearing community too. Focusing on a central theme that affects us all, the effects of being different and what this can lead to, something each one of us has felt at least once if not several times in our lives. The story echoes historical events but also frames the possibility of what could be and what to be aware of.
It's been a long and complex process that I will talk more about in the future, however right now we are revelling in the release of our first self-publishing project which within 24 hours of release was #1 the Amazon UK Kindle Store for Fantasy Comics!