DEARBORN, Mich. – As a young Arab American woman navigating her way through the comic book industry, Ayah Krisht didn’t see a lot of representation.
Instead of being discouraged by closed doors, she co-founded her own company and is opening the doors for other aspiring artists.
Krisht has loved art since she was young and also wanted to use their voice to make a difference.
“It’s really important to us to provide this platform run by artists for artists,” Krisht said.
A pair of Dearborn friends with a passion for comic books and graphic design decided to launch their own company in 2019.
“We’re just interested in kind of elevating voices from different backgrounds that might not always be able to get their work out there and publishing spaces,” Krisht said.
Maamoul Press offers women and those who identify as non-binary an outlet to express themselves through art.
“It’s so unique because no other medium kind of presents, time and space in the same ways,” Krisht said. “There’s a lot that you can do on the page.”
The name Maamoul Press itself is a play on words.
“Maamoul is the name of an Arabic cookie that is kind of round and it has a printed design on it usually. It’s made with a little press,” Krisht said. “It’s like a nice pun and it comes from the root word of Ma’amoul, which needs to work or to make, and our press is very like rooted in a kind of DIY ethos.”
They’ve featured the series “Not Nice for a Girl” from a Lebanese author who is tackling gender myths head on.
“It’s like very simple, just illustrations with like short captions,” Krisht said. “It just kind of puts these kind of concepts out there in a very bold way because they’re often taboo subjects that people don’t speak about but then you kind of see it laid out this way. And it’s just kind of thought provoking.”
When it comes Arab representation in mainstream American media or entertainment, there either isn’t any or it panders to false stereotypes.
“It’s always like a war memoir or very tied up in identity politics,” Krisht said. “We want to see the everyday Arabs that exists in this country that are not the mainstream, that are not the status quo.”
Krisht said they plan to expand and is hopeful that young Arab children will follow in her footsteps.
“It’s important for us to get our stories out there and to control our own narratives,” Krisht said. “And the more we have people doing that and sharing those stories, the better.”
More information can be found on Maamoul Press’ official website here.