SAN DIEGO — When Ghezal Omar flips through the graphic novels she created, she sees powerful women.
Omar is pushing boundaries in the female-driven action genre, bringing her works to this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
“If you’re looking for folks who like to have fun while they beat up people, they’re definitely your type of stories,” she said.
Her graphic novel “.357 Magnum Opus” explores the dark entanglements of an unflinching female bounty hunter.
Her newest release, “Pimp Killer,” features a determined female investigator named LA Jones, who is on a mission to hunt down an evil man torturing women.
“[LA Jones] wants to unleash her own brand of justice on him,” Omar said. “But they’re fun stories, they got a lot of action. They are for mature audiences.”
Omar says she’s changing what it means to be a main character. She has always been fascinated by strong female leads, and now hopes to introduce others to their intricacies.
“I grew up with Geena Davis, Sigourney Weaver, Angelina Jolie, that’s why I gravitate toward these stories,” she said.
Many say Omar is the first Afghan-American graphic novelist with the publication of “.357 Magnum Opus.”
She feels honored to bring her experiences into a field that is trying to evolve to include people from all over the world.
“I don’t get to meet others in the industry that are from Afghanistan,” she said. “I would love for more Afghans to go ‘hey, this would be a great way to tell our stories.’ So hopefully in the future I can do something that’s related to Afghanistan.”
Jesi Gutierrez is one of the co-owners of Libelula, an independent, BIPOC and queer-owned bookstore.
They say comics and graphic novels gave them their love of reading and they’re always looking to add more to their shelves.
“They were my gateway drug into literacy,” Gutierrez said. “I am a different style learner. I have dyslexia, so having image and text paired together really allowed me to enter in the stories, get lost in the narrative.”
Gutierrez says they can’t wait to finish reading Omar’s latest graphic novel and find out how the heroine comes out on top. They say these kinds of stories are always a hit with their customers and has no doubt they will also be a fan-favorite at Comic-Con.
“Being able to see stories and narratives that look like us, that celebrate our genders, our skin tone, our backgrounds, maybe our trials and tribulations, are just pure magic,” Gutierrez said. “And really can help inspire us and the customers that walk through the doors to try new things, to overcome fears and just be brave in everyday.”
Omar hopes everyone can find themselves in her characters, and it creates a fandom for female empowerment.
“You know it’s for entertainment at the end of the day as well, but if I can educate people about what’s out there and what’s happening, that’s the cherry on top of all this,” she said.
Omar is taking part in the “Asian Americans Built the Comic Market” panel happening Saturday. She is hoping to release the next part of her series next year.