Heroes by Day and Night

Psychiatrist Omar Mirza’s Secret Identity

July 23, 2018

His personal hero was his father, a general surgeon. “He did everything,” explained Mirza, a 2012 graduate of TouroCOM Harlem. “We all looked up to him.”

His other heroes were found in the pages of Marvel and DC comic books, characters like Superman, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk who travelled the world fighting evil and helping those in need.

As for his own superhero origin story, Mirza decided to become a doctor and made TouroCOM Harlem his first headquarters.

“I realized that one of the shortcomings in medicine is that we have learned to treat people as diagnoses not as people,” Mirza said. “The essence of what brought me to TouroCOM was addressing the patient as a whole.”

He chose to become a psychiatrist.

“I wanted to touch people a little more deeply and in a way that’s more personal than treating illness,” Mirza explained.

Mirza currently serves as a psychosomatic medicine fellow at Mt. Sinai hospital. He provides psychiatric counseling to solid organ transplant patients.

“Our hope is to provide early for psychiatric illness that can complement medical treatments in a way that would address the patient as a whole,” said Mirza.

While he was busy fulfilling one dream, Mirza also decided to pursue another, that of becoming a comic book creator.

“I always wanted to create my own comic books, but it was something that I put off, since becoming a real-life hero, a doctor, took precedence.” 

Mirza believes that both his career as a psychiatrist and a comic book creator are linked.

“A lot of what I do is listen to people’s life stories and what I do as a comic book creator is create life stories,” he said.

Together with fellow TouroCOM alumn, Dr. Khurran Mehtabdin, the two created Zindaar: the Last Ansaars, an action-adventure comic set during the Mughal Empire. Both Mirza and Mehtabdin are proud Pakistani-Americans and hope to use their comic to showcase their unique history as well as challenge stereotypes about Pakistanis.

“I’m not a doctor by day and a comic book writer by night,” he acknowledged. “I’m all of those things. At the end of the day, all we want to do—both as comic book creators and doctors—is create a positive impact on someone’s life.”