Hero-Factor was an organization by Suleiman Bakhit, a Jordanian entrepeneur and comic-book creator, that produced comics designed to provide Arab youth with positive role models. Bakhit, who passed away in 2019, started this initiative when he realized young children in Jordan didn’t have “heroes” to identify with and inspire them. Bakhit took it upon himself to fill that gap by producing comic books, like Element Zero, “a kind of Arab… James Bond”, and Princess Heart, “a modern re-telling of 1001 Nights“, that provided these youth with Arab pop culture heroes to look up to.
Bakhit’s objective in creating, producing and publishing these stories was also to build resilience against extremism by providing powerful alternative messaging to, for example, ISIS’s narratives of “adventure-seeking”. As he noted in an interview with Vice, “One of the most serious problems in the Middle East today is that terrorism is packaged as heroism. That’s what young boys grow up thinking it means to be a man.” By providing youth with heroes that promote tolerance, kindness and acceptance, Bakhit therefore hoped to replace the pull and appeal of extremist narratives and figureheads with positive influences and inspiration. He sold over 1.2 million copies of his comic books, indicating the message and medium he chose resonated strongly with his intended audience of young Arabs in Jordan and abroad.
To learn more about Suleiman Bakhit and his work, check out the following articles: