Iranian graphic novel draws interest as multi-language webcomic

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The Independent Culture

A graphic novel about the political and social situation in Iran is beginning as a serialized web comic in seven languages. Zahra's Paradise, the first installment of which was published online on February 19, will ultimately see publication by First Second Books in 2011.

Called a work of "real-time fiction," Zahra's Paradise is set in the aftermath of Iran's disputed 2009 elections and tells the fictional story of the search for a missing protestor. The story will incorporate a number of current events as it unfolds with web updates every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

At, the comic is available in English, Farsi, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch.

Zahra's Paradise is written by Amir, an Iranian-American human rights activist, journalist, and documentary filmmaker who has lived and worked in the US, Canada, Europe, and Afghanistan. Khalil is a multimedia artist who takes on his first graphic novel with this project. Both Amir and Khalil are withholding their last names to protect their anonymity, according to the site.

The webcomic is garnering enthusiastic mentions across the mainstream media and in such varied blogs as Huffington Post, MTV IGGY (global pop culture), Jezebel (celebrity, sex, fashion for women), and Forbidden Planet International (science, fantasy, horror bookstore chain).

For its style and subject matter, Zahra's Paradise is drawing comparisons to Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi's French-language graphic novel that is set in Iran before and after the Islamic Revolution. That comic achieved wide success, was translated into several languages, and was adapted into a 2007 Oscar-nominated animated film.