Working under assumed names for obvious reasons, writer “Amir” and artist “Khalil” chronicle events in Iran in the wake of the disputed elections of 2009 in an ongoing story called Zahra’s Paradise.
Zahra’s Paradise is a graphic story that is being published as a webcomic in installments every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It just started on February 19, and will continue to include current events as they happen in the context of a fictional story. It follows a young Iranian blogger’s search for his brother, who has disappeared following his participation in the post-election protests.
The author is an Iranian-American human rights activist and the artist is a sculptor, ceramics artist and cartoonist who is taking on his first graphic novel.
The webcomic is being published simultaneously in English, Farsi, Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch. First Second Books will publish the story in book form in 2011.
The site conveniently opens on the first page of the story (unlike the majority of webcomics, who open their site with the most recent page on the mistaken assumption that convenience for current readers is more important than orienting new ones.)
The art is clear and straightforward, with enough touches of style to add visual charm without distracting from the storytelling. Simple tones and hatching, along with well spotted blacks, provide depth and visual balance.
The characters are immediately accessible, even to Westerners who might assume they have little connection to people and events in Iran. As we follow along with the search for Mehdi, we may find out more about how similar, and different, our lives are.