Frequently Asked Questions
For new readers:
For the press:
If you don't see your question here, send it to: mail at malaakonline dot com.
Introduction for new readers
- What is the comic about?
- As an endless and incomprehensible war rages in Lebanon, the land's ancestral guardians, the Cedars, admit the old ways are defeated by the scale of the conflict. To save the land, they send a guardian in the people's own likeness – a child who quickly grows into a young woman with a double challenge: to come into her own powers, and find out what she is supposed to do about this war. A war that seems to not be the work of humans alone...
- In a nutshell, it is the story of Lebanon's Superhero(ine). But it's a uniquely Lebanese superhero comic, quite different from anything you might expect. A good deal of mythology and ancient history are infused into it. I can't say more right now so as not to spoil your reading experience. It was begun in 2006, right after the July war, and is still our only full-length adventure series.
- Who writes and publishes it?
- I am myself the writer, artist, inker, colorist and publisher, all in one! My name is Joumana Medlej and I'm all over the place. You can read more about me as a comicker on this page, and see the rest of my work on my personal website, Majnouna.com.
- Will it be printed?
It already is! Every volume is published in print upon completion. The first 4 volumes can be found in Lebanese bookshops and the first 2 also exist in French. While this is still true, I'm now separated from my stock by a few thousand miles (I have moved to London) and bookshops no loner carry them, so if you really want them you need to be in Lebanon and get in touch with m, and I'll explain what to do. Sounds like a spy movie, I know. The last two volumes will not be printed as singles, but I want to one day print a single volume of the full story, plus extras. And that will be the true completion.
- How do I use the site?
- I suggest you start by reading the comic, beginning here.
Then, you can explore what the Bonus Material section on the homepage has to offer: get to know the characters better, see how other artists have visualized them, learn more about the mythological themes that are woven into the story, maybe download some wallpapers, order an e-book ... among other things to see!
Most importantly, before leaving, make sure to follow the blog or to add it to your RSS reader, so that you can keep up with updates.
And if you want to do me a favor? Talk about it. Blog about it, tweet about it, forward the URL to your friends, let them know there's a Lebanese superhero in town and she's here to stay :)
- Can you summarize the overall story and the individual volumes?
- As endless war rages in Lebanon, a mysterious child is found in a cedar forest. Malaak grows up to be faced with a double challenge: to come into her powers and to battle war itself -- a war in which the supernatural seems to have a hand...
Begun in 2006, Malaak: Angel of Peace is Lebanon's first and only superhero or adventure full-length series. To date it counts 5 completed volumes:
In part 1 (Angel of Peace, 2007) we witnessed Malaak's birth, her learning about her gift and mission, and the shocking discovery that the country was being torn apart by Jinn disguised as militias.
- In part 2 (Battles and Scars, 2008), Malaak gathered allies and became the people's hope, but narrowly survived a deadly enemy and had to realize force alone could only lead her so far.
In part 3 (Dark Dreams, 2010), Malaak was challenged again, and her friends struck down around her one after the other. She must enter the world of the Jinn itself to face her nemesis and save all those she cared for.
In part 4 (Marked by Fire, 2011) several story threads ran
parallel as Adrian went off to investigate a mysterious pillar of smoke, Malaak followed a new trail onto the Dream Plane, and a very distant past began to reemerge.
In part 5 (Citadel of the Jinn, 2012) Malaak joined forces with Amer to rescue her best friend, and in so doing made a key discovery.
In part 6 (The Master Symbol, 2015), the story concludes!
- How did it all start? Where did the idea come from?
- The idea of a cedar-born child sent to bring the Lebanese population help and hope first came to me in 2001. At the time, I sketched pages 2 and 3 just as they are now, but I had no idea how to develop the idea further, nor was I equipped to embark on a full-length graphic novel. The sketches went into a drawer and slept there forgotten.
In September 2006, only a few days after I returned from weeks of war-driven exile, I was contacted by an online publication and asked to participate in their quarterly project, the theme of which was The Lebanese Superhero. At first I planned to just do a one-off thing, with an illustration and a couple of pages to set the background, but the concept was taking care of itself by then, and before I knew it I had an ambitious saga on my hands, made quite current by the political events in Lebanon and the fear of a new civil war.
In April 2007, having completed 16 pages and gathered a sizeable audience, I built the comic its own website, malaakonline.com. The first volume was published and launched in December 2007, and Malaak's world has been growing since.
- What has the reaction been to the comic, in Lebanon and abroad?
- The response has been encouraging enough for me to still be working on it 8 years later despite the time and expenses involved :) To see a sampling, visit my reviews page where I gathered press clippings and reader comments.
- We need a short biography and high-res photo of you.
- Joumana Medlej is a Lebanese creative whose work encompasses graphic design, illustration, calligraphy, digital games and children's books. After years of making comics for her own pleasure, Malaak: Angel of Peace is her first published graphic novel and Lebanon's first adventure comic. She is also assistant to the master calligrapher Samir Sayegh, and art director/concept artist of Quirkat, a game developer.
For a more specific presentation of me as a comic author, please see my Author page.
Finally, click here to download 2 press photos.
- We're writing for an online publication, do you have a banner we can use?
- Please feel free to use any of these and link them back to www.malaakonline.com:
- Is the story supposed to take place during the Lebanese civil war?
- The setting is semi-fictional. It's Lebanon, but in an alternate reality with no relation to the actual war, except thematically. If you experienced it, you'll recognize references to day-to-day things we went through, and the locations are unmistakeable, but there are no references to historical events or people at all. The story is meant to be read as contemporary, regardless of whether you're reading it now or 20 years from now.
- What is Malaak's religion?
- This was left deliberately obscure, but it's one topic on which I don't want assumptions to go rampant, so I am forced to answer it: Malaak was born of the land itself, and as such, she is an embodiement of natural forces far older than human religions.
- Why are her eyes green?
- We all know the eyes are the window to the soul, so it's only appropriate that her power, which vibrates as a deep green, is expressed through her eyes.
What I find more odd than her eye color is that some people seemed bothered enough by it to ask, as if it were an unpatriotic decision on my part. Yet the green was also meant to visually complete the colour scheme of her costume to match the flag, without it being too obvious and tacky.
- Why does her costume have high heels?
- It was designed by a guy (Adrian), what do you expect?
- Will you publish it in Arabic?
- I am working on a Lebanese version that will be available as an ebook. I don't have the means to print it myself, but if a publisher or sponsor steps forward I surely will.
- Why should I buy the printed version when I can read it all online?
- Several good reasons!
1. This is not a webcomic. It is made to be printed, so the colors and details look their best in print. In fact, the whole thing looks SMASHING in print.
2. The pages posted online are only semifinal. I make final corrections for print only.
3. A printed book can be yours, yours, yours, and autographed to boot.
4. There's always bonus, unposted material in the printed books.
5. The proceeds go to printing. This whole thing is a labor of love and is done out of my pocket.
6. Did I mention how much better it looks in print?