By the time I reached the little gray box reading “End of Book 1″ in the last panel of Dara Naraghi and Brent Bowman’s Persia Blues, Vol. 1 Leaving Home, I still wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but, to the creators’ credit, they had conjured the good kind of uncertainty — a sense of engaging suspense, with clues strewn throughout the pages, rather than a confusion borne of bad storytelling or uninteresting characters and subjects.
Here’s what I do know: Persia Blues is the story of a young woman, or two versions of the same young woman, Minoo Shirazi.
One Minoo is a fearless swordswoman and adventurer thieving and fighting her way through the Persian Empire, aided by a mysterious fire power and her cautious, adventure-adverse lover, a scholar named Tyler. This Minoo’s culture isn’t just Zoroastrianism, but its god and devil figures Ahura Mazda and Ahriman walk among human beings, as do mythological creatures.
I talked Monday with writer Dara Naraghi about his Kickstarter campaign for his new graphic novel Persia Blues, which will be published by NBM next summer; the book is done, and the Kickstarter is to pay his artist Brent Bowman. In addition to the campaign, we also spoke about the genesis of the book and the creative process, and I decided that part of the interview would be more at home at Robot 6. To accompany this part of the conversation, Dara has sent along some exclusive art from Persia Blues, which is set in two eras and drawn in two different styles.
Robot 6: Let’s start with the elevator pitch: What is this story about?
Dara Naraghi: At its very core, Persia Blues is the story of a smart, independent young woman trying to define herself and her place in the world, in the face of family obligations and societal pressures. More broadly, I’ve been describing the book like this: Minoo Shirazi is a rebellious young Iranian woman, struggling to define herself amidst the strict social conventions of an oppressive regime, and the differing wishes of an overbearing father. Minoo Shirazi is also a free-spirited adventurer in a fantasy world, a place where aspects of modern America and ancient Persia meld into a unique landscape.
And yet, neither of these women are the true Minoo Shirazi.
On her journey(s) of self-discovery, she will encounter diverse elements from Iran’s rich culture and history, both real and mythological, and eventually solve the mystery of her world(s).
Webcomics | Philip Hofer, the creator of the ComicPress WordPress theme used by many webcomics artists, discusses that and his new WordPress product, Comic Easel. [The Webcomic Beacon]
Creators | Peter Bagge talks about his comics and his relationship with Robert Crumb as both a contributor to and editor of Crumb’s anthology Weirdo: “With the style of work that I do, I like it to look on the surface like it’s shallow and stupid, but when you read it, the context is really sweet; [Crumb] saw that right away. I remember telling him ‘I have some story ideas, using fictional characters that are stand-ins for me, and I’m remembering things that are embarrassing and hard to write about. Even though I’m hiding behind a fictional character, I’m nervous talking about embarrassing events from my past. I’m a little bit afraid. He said ‘Those are exactly the stories you need to tell, especially if it won’t go away, and are always in the back of your head.’” [Graphic NYC]
Digital comics | George Gene Gustines takes a quick trip through the landscape of digital comics, dropping in on Mark Waid, comiXology’s David Steinberger and Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men Infinite Comic. Much of this is familiar territory to regular readers of this blog, but hey, it’s The New York Times noticing digital comics! [The New York Times]
Digital comics | FreakAngels writer Warren Ellis looks at three recent digital comics, noting how they all limit themselves to “two-tier storytelling”: “Accepting and exploiting new limitations is always part of a new format. These three projects, though, can’t produce even a full-page spread without some serious scheming and dancing.” [Warren Ellis]
DC Comics’ Aquaman #7 marked the New 52 debut of archenemy Black Manta and the introduction of “the Others,” a super-powered team from the king of Atlantis’ past whose ranks included Kahina the Seer, a native of Tehran gifted with prophetic powers. Unfortunately for Kahina, however, her first appearance was also (presumably) her last, as she’s hunted down and killed by the helmeted villain in the issue’s opening sequence.
It’s a turn of events that didn’t sit well with comics writer, and fan, Dara Naraghi (Witch & Wizard: Battle for Shadowland, Ghostbusters: Tainted Love), who’s posted an open letter to Aquaman writer Geoff Johns, reworked from a similar one he sent to Editor Pat McCallum, detailing his “extreme disappointment” as an Iranian-American reader in seeing an Iranian character killed off only eight pages after her introduction.