by Iman Ben Chaibah
The last issue of Sail Magazine had the first part of an interview with Qais Sedki. The man behind the “Gold Ring”, the first Arabic and Emirati comic book with Manga style. Part one covered the actual production of Gold Ring and the Sheikh Zayed Book Award. This part will be about the personal side of Qais and some of his learnt experiences.
- How do you describe the family support you got for starting Gold Ring?
I do not intend to use clichéd phrases, but I literally mean it when I say I could not have done it without them. They were fully supportive when I told them about my decision of quitting my job for pursuing this. Being responsible towards my wife and kids, I had to prepare them for taking few steps back financially. Amazingly, not only did they accept it, they also found the strength to support me.
Everyone’s support was important, but specifically my wife, Amna. She has been a superwoman in this with her immense support. My kids were supportive in their own way; blunt honesty whenever I ask for their feedback on anything new, and I take their opinions very seriously because they could represent my actual customers who are of their age.
- What is the most touching story that happened so far around Gold Ring?
One of my distributors once called me for an urgent restock order, when I delivered it, I found that the day before a lady came in and bought 200 copies of Gold Ring. We did not know who or why. A month later, I found that it was a schoolteacher, who distributed the book to her 5th grade student-girls for a home reading assignment and then discussed it in class. When they completed the discussion, they wanted to meet the author, and so invited me for a day.
On the event day, they started chanting beautiful melodies as I walked in. This was followed by the students walking in a line, each with her copy of the book and sat on stage. They then started discussing the book with me and asking questions that were hitting the essential parts of Gold Ring. The girls knew every part of the book by heart, they were very proud of it, and they were extremely happy with it.
We concluded the event with taking group pictures, and then one of the girls gifted me a greeting card, with her picture and her own hand writing in it. I cannot even start to describe how the whole thing moved me. It is these sorts of reactions that are my ROI of Gold Ring, it is not the profit or the breakeven point that I am looking for; I know these are not in the horizon yet. These stuff are what I look for, and the pride they bring to my family.
- How did your family feel towards the Sheikh Zayed Book Award?
The ceremony was to be attended by dignitaries. Accordingly, children were not allowed to attend the ceremony. When Abdulla, my son, found out about this, he really got upset and started pleading to come along, but there was very little I could do about it. Few days before the ceremony, I coincidently met the manager of the award, so we started chitchatting and we started talking about Abdullah not coming. He insisted I bring Abdullah along despite of the condition. Of course needless to say, Abdullah was ecstatic about the news and was emotional out bursting for attending this. He is a sensitive and compassionate kid.
When the ceremony was finally over, and when the media and press started to clear out, I saw Abdullah coming my way and I just knew. I dropped down on my knees, he run to hug me and started sobbing and crying his heart out, so I hugged him tighter so he can release all the emotions he had. He was so happy and proud by the award beyond what I could feel for myself.
- What are the future plans for Gold Ring?
The immediate future plan is to publish the second volume of Gold Ring in Arabic, and the first volume of it in English as concurrent releases.
I am looking forward to build the intellectual property of Gold Ring and diversify the revenue generating streams. Harry Potter is a classic example for this approach, it started with a successful book, then it did not stop there, it became a movie, video game, merchandises, and so on. It becomes a brand, and this helps sustain the business and progress it.
However, I would like to wait on that, I would not want it to undermine the initiative of reading itself. So I will definitely delve in that when I am almost done with the Gold Ring series.
- How would you describe your goals?
I have very big goals. My goals are huge, life changing, and earth shattering. I do not think I am the first to dream them, but people sometimes expect quick results when approaching such goals. That cannot happen. The bigger are your goals, the longer you have to hold your breath. I am not expecting to see the results in my lifetime, but you plant the seed today for future generations inshalla (in God’s willing).
- How was your journey in terms of hurdles?
Hurdles were everywhere. I did not know anything about writing, printing, Manga production, or anyone in Japan for that matter. I only knew I wanted to produce a Manga.
You should not expect a journey without hurdles; such a journey would be pointless and lead nowhere. People should develop the mindset of facing hurdles and learn to overcome them. Develop an attitude of “why not”. This is a very enabling mindset once adapted.
- What are the main lessons you learnt so far?
I learnt to be flexible about things. You have to keep your fingers on the pulse, be reactive, and examine how things are changing and change along.
You learn to move from being dependent, to independent, and then to interdependent. First you depend on others to help you, then you depend on yourself, and finally you have to depend on the roles of others. You cannot possibly know it all, so you have to build on other people’s strengths.
- What advice do you want to pass on?
A lot of times, some people with the best intentions end up bringing you down. So surround yourself with the right crowd, and things will become much easier to achieve.
Believe in god and his power to support you once you put your trust in him. Things will miraculously fall in place along the way just to help you reach your goals.
There will be challenges that I will still face. Just because I succeeded on the first volume, does not mean it will be any easier. I can only try my best in making the most out of it.
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