Metro Detroit native Saladin Ahmed has been writing for years. From poetry to short stories to novels, he has experimented in many genres. Ahmed’s most recent medium is graphic novels. He produced a comic book series called “Abbott.” It follows Elena Abbott, a hard-working African-American journalist in 1972 Detroit.
Stateside producer Mike Blank recently spoke with Saladin Ahmed at a book signing at the Vault of Midnight in Detroit.
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“Abbott” is Saladin Ahmed’s — a Dearborn native and Hugo nominated writer — first creator-owned project. He built the comic book series “from the ground up,” using his own original hero and setting. The series chronicles Elena Abbott, a black female journalist working in 1970s Detroit, as she encounters “a world of dark sorcery.”
Ahmed created Abbott in the mold of the archetypal paranormal investigator, but her identity as a woman of color has special significance to him. “As an Arab man I’m used to not seeing my story told, not seeing my people as heroes, so whenever I create a hero, I try to look at who would be interesting in this role that maybe has been neglected.”
The setting, Detroit, is also important to Ahmed. “I wanted it to be a story about Detroit,” he said. “I’m from Dearborn, but Detroit did a lot to raise me.”
The series shifts the conversation away from the ’67 riots. “I wanted to talk about what happened after ’67 and maybe change the story that it was all decline,” Ahmed said. Additionally, Ahmed hopes to subtly draw parallels between 1970s Detroit and our current political and cultural moment.
The first in a five issue series, “Abbott” debuted on January 24. The remaining issues will be released monthly through May.