The webcomics blog about webcomics

Oh Man … Oh, Man

A little less than 14 hours ago, :01 Books (who do such great graphic novels) launched a new online serial project, Zahra’s Paradise, and you need to stop right now and go read the pages already posted.

Back? Good. Let’s talk about what it’s about:

So a Persian writer, an Arab artist and a Jewish editor walk into a room…

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. Actually, that’s something like the start of this unusual editorial adventure, the first of its kind. Here for your reading pleasure is an online, serial webcomic in English, Farsi, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch—with more joining on the horizon. First Second books proudly presents Zahra’s Paradise by Amir and Khalil, together with Casterman in French and Dutch, Rizzoli Lizard in Italian, and Norma Editorial in Spanish.

Set in the aftermath of Iran’s fraudulent elections of 2009, Zahra’s Paradise is the fictional story of the search for Mehdi, a young protestor who has disappeared in the Islamic Republic’s gulags. Mehdi has vanished in an extrajudicial twilight zone where habeas corpus is suspended. What stops his memory from being obliterated is not the law. It is the grit and guts of a mother who refuses to surrender her son to fate and the tenacity of a brother—a blogger—who fuses culture and technology to explore and explode absence: the void in which Mehdi has vanished.

The creators (anonymous for obvious political reasons) have produced something special. It’s unfolding so slowly, and you can tell how good this one is going to be from how much it hurts to hit the ‘Next’ button. Hurts, because you’re wondering when being afraid of what might happen to Mehdi suddenly becomes knowing what happened to Mehdi, and whatever that is, it’s probably even worse than we can imagine. Even though Mehdi is fictional, there were so many Mehdi’s taken in the aftermath of the elections, and so many more still. There are eight pages up, and more due each Monday/Wednesday/Friday.

In other news, webcartoonists are evil, grasping scum. You heard it here first. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to see a gentleman about some kitchen knives.

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