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Interview with Mahdi Tabatabaei Yazdi Founder, Author & Illustrator of Salaam Comics

As part of the interview series, we interviewed Mahdi Tabatabaei Yazdi Founder, Author & Illustrator of Salam Comics

Question: Please introduce yourself and your company.
Mahdi Tabatabaei Yazdi: I am Mahdi I grew up in a practicing Muslim family and I have a bachelor’s degree in architecture. I started Salamcomics as a personal brand but now after 4 years, Alhamdulillah it has become a team. SalamComics is dedicated to publishing faith-inspired books in the language of art. We aim to build bridges between people and spread the message of peace and morality – not just to Muslims, but to humanity at large.

Question: How did you get the idea to start Salam Comics?
Mahdi Tabatabaei Yazdi: As a Muslim who lives in a Muslim Society I was confused why we should find lots of color and entertainment in books and animations that are promoting secular messages. Some of these messages are indirect. At the same time, we have lots of beautiful messages in Islam that we need to promote, not just for Muslims, we need to show the beauty of Islam to the world, so why not use art for this significant goal.

I believe art is a language that everyone appreciates, no matter what they believe in. It is linked with human instinct, and human instinct is created by a divine power that is full of beauty. We have many non-Muslims who appreciate our work proving this concept. Another point that I was challenged with is that the Art schools don’t learn us to create our own Art products as Muslims. Allah Subhan wa taala mentions in Quran:  “O you who have believed, remember Allāh with much remembrance” So why shouldn’t we put footprints of our faith in our artworks, picture books, and animations?

We at Salamcomics are going to produce lots of these products InshaAllah.

Question: What are the objectives of Salam Comics ?
Mahdi Tabatabaei Yazdi: In recent years Alhamdulillah many new authors and publishers are producing content for Kids. But still, we lack appropriate picture books for our older kids, teenagers, and adults. Our first published book “Quranic infographics” is targeting the teenager and adult audience while kids in 5-12 can use the book with their parents. Hopefully, we have received many positive feedbacks from many families who called the book a family book for all the family members.

Question: What were the challenges you faced and how you overcame them?
Mahdi Tabatabaei Yazdi: One of the big challenges for us was that we wanted to produce our own products at first. But we didn’t have enough money to concentrate on our own projects. That’s why we decided to do illustration services for other companies. Alhamdulillah it made lots of income for us. 

At the same time, we decided to find talented illustrators to work with us So Alhamdulillah we found enough time to work on our own projects. At the same time, we made a crowdfunding campaign in launchgood.com to raise funds for one of our new projects. Please let me not mention all of our Challenges. Our “Quranic infographics” book release was in the first months of Corona pandemic.

Many bookstores were closed and didn’t respond to our emails and messages. Also, many bookstores rejected our book but we didn’t stop contacting the bookstores even if they hadn’t answered our emails. Now I can say after 8 months we have stockists in 14 countries and our book is in the translation process to 2 non-English languages.

Question: What is your business model?
Mahdi Tabatabaei Yazdi: Firstly when we started our business as I mentioned before we did lots of illustration services. But currently, we only do illustration services for a single company and I have totally outsourced those services. Still, we receive requests to do illustration services but we totally changed our business model after publishing our first book “Quranic infographics”. Now we are going to produce our own products and distribute them all over the world. The “Quranic info-graphics” book illustrated me and all the content and text were chosen by me.

So where is the team work? Our team is working on the various challenges we have in distributing our book. We have some distributors. We have a print manager. We have a team working on our Augmented reality app. We are not working like today’s scalable startups. It’s because I have some new and innovative concepts and I need to create and design them and can’t hire someone to do them for me. But at the same time, I work with my team to promote the products when they are designed. InshaAllah in the future we are going to publish books for talented artists who are going in the same direction we are going.

Question: What are your current and future plans?
Mahdi Tabatabaei Yazdi : Currently our first book “Quranic info-graphics” is released and is available in most of the world. Also a test version of the augmented reality app for this book is released in google play and is going to get updated each month. While my team is working on promoting this product I’m designing my next book called “Hadith info-graphics”. Here is a short explanation of “Quranic info-graphics”: This book is a collection of illustrations inspired by the verses of the Holy Quran.

“Quranic info-graphics”:This book is a collection of illustrations inspired from the verses of the Holy Quran.

The artist has employed distinctly different art styles to present various topics including ethics and morality, history, and law in Islam. From ancient Egyptian art to stained-glass and architectural isometric drawings, each piece has been thoughtfully composed to communicate the Quranic message to all audiences.

Question : What is the message you want to give to startups or entrepreneurs?
Mahdi Tabatabaei Yazdi: For Halal startups, I can say Muslims all around the world need content and materials for Islamic education. If your intention is to add value to our community Don’t worry about the finances just try to release your Idea even if it is not reaching your Ideal standards. Because they are many Muslims around the world who are starving for your product. Many of the new ideas cant be defined as a scalable startups don’t worry about that we need a wide variety of businesses in our community just upload your idea or MVP then you will see the amazing feedback inshaAllah. 

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