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Lifelike

Dara Naraghi's graphic novel Lifelike is now available in both digital and print editions. Click here for more info.

Books – Dara
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Archive for the ‘iran’ Category

Spotted this NYT article today:

Iranian Comic-Book Artists Seek a Unique, Local Identity

“Many young Iranian artists admit to a passion for comic books from the United States and Europe. They can be purchased in Tehran, though they are expensive and often covered with the censors’ black ink. But local artists say they are trying to stamp their work with an Iranian identity.

Life for them, though, is not easy because their creative aspirations are kept firmly in check by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, responsible for approving all publications in the country.”

I don’t really know what the comics scene is like in Iran these days. I’d imagine most of the fans are younger and tech savvy, so they probably get their hands on pirated scans. When I was a kid growing up there, comics meants Herge’s Tin Tin, and to a lesser extent, Asterix and Obelix. There were some Farsi translations of the more well-known American superhero comics as well – Superman, Batman, Spider-Man – but they weren’t nearly as popular.

On the last couple of trips that my parents took back to Iran, I asked them to look for locally produced comic books and graphic novels, but they didn’t have any luck finding them.

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    I’ve been digging through the longboxes and came across the few Savage Sword of Conan magazines I still have, so for the next few weeks we’ll be spotlighting some gorgeous black & white art featuring the Cimmerian himself.

    Up first, one of my favorite Conan artist, Gary Kwapisz. This first splash page, although not action packed, is quite atmospheric. Plus, it holds a special place in my heart because a) it’s set in the Hyborean age’s version of my motherland, Iranistan, and b) I own the original art for this, signed by Mr. Kwapisz himself.

    This page is from Savage Sword of Conan #165, published by Marvel Comics, October 1989.

    Bonus splash: a nice title page, with Conan doing his best to prevent unnecessary bloodshed between the ladies.

    This page is from Savage Sword of Conan #165, October 1989.

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      Just a quick reminder that Dark Horse Presents #4, out today, features a short story by yours truly and artist Victor Santos:

      Buy a copy and let me know what you thought of the story.

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        Due to some last minute shuffling, my autobiographical story “The Protest” is being moved up in the roster to Dark Horse Presents #4, shipping to comic shops everywhere September 21.

        Here’s a look at the official solicitation, and the two different covers for the book, by the talented Ms. Fiona Staples:

        …and Mr. Geof Darrow:

        Dark Horse Presents #4 – 80 color pages – no ads – $7.99

        The hallmark anthology continues with another spectacular eighty-page issue! In this installment, stories by creators Howard Chaykin (The Chronicles of Solomon Kane), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), and Sanford Greene continue. Joined by exciting new shorts from Ricardo Delgado and Jim Campbell, Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, and Filipé Melo, this issue is certain to have something for everyone! Plus, the first chapters of brand-new Beasts of Burden and Criminal Macabre stories! If that wasn’t enough, we’ve included another demented strip by Patrick Alexander and an exclusive interview with Geof Darrow!

        And here’s a look at a page from my story, illustrated by my frequent artistic partner in crime, Victor Santos:

        Set in Iran, post-Islamic revolution, “The Protest” is a story of growing up during turbulent times, where timeless constants and unpredictable variables come into direct conflict.

        Please ask your retailer to save you a copy.

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          (I suppose I should preface this with Warning, Possible Spoilers Ahead)

          Ok, that’s a misleading headline, but not too far off from the kind of crap that FOX News has run with for their coverage of this non-story. Anyway, if you hadn’t heard yet, in the current Action Comics #900 big anniversary issue, there’s a short backup story that’s causing some sweaty hand-wringing in ultra-conservative corners. I’ll let the Comics Alliance crew summarize it for you:

          The key scene takes place in “The Incident,” a short story in Action Comics #900 written by David S. Goyer with art by Miguel Sepulveda. In it, Superman consults with the President’s national security advisor, who is incensed that Superman appeared in Tehran to non-violently support the protesters demonstrating against the Iranian regime, no doubt an analogue for the recent real-life protests in the Middle East. However, since Superman is viewed as an American icon in the DC Universe as well as our own, the Iranian government has construed his actions as the will of the American President, and indeed, an act of war. Superman replies that it was foolish to think that his actions would not reflect politically on the American government, and that he therefore plans to renounce his American citizenship at the United Nations the next day — and to continue working as a superhero from a more global than national perspective.

          Now, if you’d like to read 10,000 word essays on why this particular story element is a realistic portrayal of the character or a spineless capitulation to liberal guilt, there are plenty of other blogs and news sites you can visit. All I want to proudly point out is that this momentous occasion in the life of The Man of Steel was brought about by a story set in my motherland.

          Iran represent!

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            Today is the vernal equinox, the first day of spring. Which also makes it the Persian (Iranian) New Year, called Noruz (literally “new day”).

            So a happy new year to all our blog readers, Iranian, American, or otherwise.

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              Apparently most Republicans have conveniently forgotten the Iran-Contra Affair, what with the way they talk about Reagan as the second coming of Christ. That’s why I love The Onion, for much like Wolverine, they are the best at what they do, and what they do is social and political satire:

              The Onion: Sunday marked the 100th birthday of the late President Ronald Wilson Reagan. How did you remember him?


              (click to enlargify)

              The other two quotes are also funny. Go check them out.

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                This week’s been a hectic one, so I totally forgot to mention that I’m doing a signing at The Laughing Ogre tonight from 5-8 pm. Seeing as how it’s now almost 11 pm, I suppose this announcement only does you some good if you have a time machine. For the rest of you, let’s just move one…

                So, today saw the release of my first work as a writer for DC Comics, in the form of an 8-page Spectre story in the DC Universe Holiday Special 2010 #1. (Aside to FOX “News”: yes, that’s right. Holiday Special. Not Christmas Special. Because all your fears were correct, there really is a War on Christmas (TM) and guess who contributed to it? Me. An Iranian! Gasp! And my story deals with Norouz, the Persian New Year. So yes, feel free to invite me unto one of your fine programs and browbeat and berate me in the name of saving America and its children. Any of them will do, The Hannity Factor, or Glenn O’Reilly, or any of the half dozen shows hosted by Fox Interchangeable Attractive Blonde Female Reporter Standard Model #B-726.)

                Er, sorry. Where was I? Oh right, the DC Holiday Special. It’s a one-shot, costs $5, and in it you’ll find six 8-page stories featuring various DC Universe characters from different timelines dealing with an aspect of the season. And it’s all wrapped up under a nice Matt Haley cover:

                DC UNIVERSE HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2010 #1

                Written by DAN ABNETT & ANDY LANNING, SETH ALBANO, TONY BEDARD, JOEY CAVALIERI, KEVIN GREVIOUX and DARA NARAGHI
                Art by RENATO ARLEM, ROBERTO CASTRO, RICHARD & TANYA HORIE, CARLO SORIANO and more
                Cover by MATT HALEY

                From the dawn of time (Anthro) to the far-flung future (Legion of Super-Heroes), sentient life has honored the winter holidays with celebrations and rituals as diverse as the universe itself! Join DC Comics – and a stellar team of writers and artists – to honor the vast and diverse holidays of the DC Universe in 6 tales of holiday cheer! Starring the aforementioned characters along with Superman, The Spectre, Jonah Hex, and Green Lantern John Stewart for a HOLIDAY SPECIAL like no other!

                So I thought it would be fun to show a tiny bit of the process behind creating my story. We’ll just look at the first page. First up, my script for page 1:

                Suggested Page Layout: 1 x 1

                PANEL 1: Wide/Large, about 3/4 page. We open with a dramatic shot of The Spectre flying high over Tehran, Iran. It’s a sunny spring day, with the clear blue sky and the snow-capped mountain range in the background nicely juxtaposed against the densely populated urban sprawl below. (References: with mountains here and here, without mountains here)

                1. Masthead/Logo: The Spectre

                2. Caption (credits): “The Gift”
                Dara Naraghi – Writer, etc.

                3. Caption: Tehran, Iran. On the eve of the vernal equinox.

                4. Caption (Crispus): Being what you’d call a non-believer, the holidays, to me, were always more about spending time with family than anything else.

                5. Caption (Crispus): But after my death, they lost even that meaning.

                6. Caption (Crispus): So this year, I ditched the painful memories at home for the far corners of the world. I’ve been at it for a few months.

                PANEL 2: Wide. The Spectre is now “landing” on a busy street in a rich part of town, lined with high-end stores and boutiques. Show several young, attractive, trendy Iranian women carrying shopping bags. (References: here and here) Also show a beggar sitting on the sidewalk, panhandling.

                7. Caption (Crispus): Guess there are a few perks to being The Spectre’s human host. No borders. No jet lag.

                8. Caption (Crispus): And apparently no need for a Farsi translator. I understand what everyone around me is talking about.

                9. Caption (Crispus): From the rich…

                10. Caption (Crispus): …to the poor.

                You’ll notice a lot of “here” and “here” talk in the descriptions. That’s where I linked to URLs of photo references for the artist in my Word document; I just didn’t reproduce them in the sample above.

                Anyway, next step is the pencils, which were provided by Tom Derenick:

                The pencils were then inked by Norm Rapmund, and a proof of the initial lettering was done, in this case featuring the lettering of Travis Lanham:

                And finally, here’s the finished page, including colors by Chris Beckett. You’ll notice some of the lettering on the story title was tweaked from the previous stage:

                And of course, editor Mike Carlin guided the whole book through from start to finish, assisted by Rachel Gluckstern. So there you have it, the magic of comic book creation, demystified.

                The only small downer is that a couple of lettering mistakes that were caught during the production phase somehow didn’t get corrected before printing, and ended up in the final product. Oh well, nothing can be done about it now. I’m still quite happy with the story, and hope you’ll enjoy it as well.

                So if you picked up the book, drop me an email or leave a comment below and share your thoughts. What worked and what didn’t? I’d love to hear from you.

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                  Well, the December solicitations are out and I can officially announce my debut DC work: an 8-page story in the DCU Holiday Special 2010 anthology. My tale features The Spectre and is set in Iran during Norooz, the Persian New Year. Here’s a look at the cover by Matt Haley:

                  And here’s the official solicitation text:

                  DCU HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2010 #1

                  Written by DAN ABNETT & ANDY LANNING, SETH ALBANO, TONY BEDARD, JOEY CAVALIERI, KEVIN GREVIOUX and DARA NARAGHI
                  Art by RENATO ARLEM, ROBERTO CASTRO, RICHARD & TANYA HORIE, CARLO SORIANO and more
                  Cover by MATT HALEY

                  From the dawn of time (Anthro) to the far-flung future (Legion of Super-Heroes), sentient life has honored the winter holidays with celebrations and rituals as diverse as the universe itself! Join DC Comics – and a stellar team of writers and artists – to honor the vast and diverse holidays of the DC Universe in 6 tales of holiday cheer! Starring the aforementioned characters along with Superman, The Spectre, Jonah Hex, and Green Lantern John Stewart for a HOLIDAY SPECIAL like no other!

                  On sale DECEMBER 8 * 56 pg, FC $4 .99 US

                  I don’t know yet who will be drawing my story, but as soon as I do I’ll post it.

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                    Zahra’s Paradise is a webcomic by two Iranians, dealing with the aftermath of the protests and turmoil following last summer’s disputed elections. Out of concern for the safety of their families, they are publishing it under the pseudonyms Amir and Khalil.

                    The webcomic is being serialized on the First Second website. It will eventually be published as a graphic novel by the same publisher. The really cool thing is that it’s beinf simultaneously released in 8 different languages: English, Farsi, Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Korean (with new languages being added as volunteers step up to help spread the word).

                    Canada’s Globe and Mail has a great article about the comic, and insight from its creators:

                    “Set at the height of last year’s bloody “Green revolution,” Zahra’s Paradise tells the story of a young Tehrani blogger and his mother (also named Zahra), who are searching for his vanished brother, Mehdi. The story is drawn in spare, flowing lines, stepping readers through a bleak vision of Tehran after the protests, emptied of life and littered with the wounded.”

                    You can read the article here.

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                      Glued to the TV most of the weekend. Like everyone else, I fear things will get worse before they get better (if they ever do). The only thing I know for certain is that Iran won’t go back to how it’s been for the past 30 years. Change will come. Maybe not this week or this month or this year, then sooner than the mullah’s would like.

                      “Les despotes eux-mêmes ne nient pas que la liberté ne soit excellente; seulement ils ne la veulent que pour eux-mêmes, et ils soutiennent que tous les autres en sont tout à fait indignes.” –Alexis de Tocqueville, L’Ancien régime et la révolution

                      (“Despots themselves don’t deny that freedom is a wonderful thing, they only want to limit it to themselves; they argue that everyone else is unworthy of it.”)

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                        In honor of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “victory” in the recent “election”, here’s a long distance dedication from SNL:

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                          “It was just a movie,” said Hussein Gharibi, a 54-year-old juice vendor, scoffing at those who got their hopes up. “They were all just players in a movie.”

                          Incumbent hardliner president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has “won” re-election with a supposed 62% of the popular vote.

                          What a sham.

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                            A warm hello to all the friends of the ferret! I’m currently in Iran, visiting family. Well, to be more precise, right now I’m on the island of Kish in the Persian Gulf, taking a break from the hustle and bustle of Tehran. Kish is mainly a resort island, with about 50-60 hotels and lots of touristy attractions (dolphin shows, parasailing, jet skiing, etc.) It’s sunny and beautiful out here, but the temperature is close to 90 with 130% humidity.

                            We’re staying at the Dariush Grand Hotel, which is an impressive 5-star hotel built to look like the ancient capital of the Persian empire, Persepolis. Here’s a picture of the hotel, from Wikipedia:

                            Of course I’ve been taking lots of pictures myself, which I’ll upload when I get back to the states. Hope all is well with everyone reading this post. I’ll be back to my regular (irregular) posting schedule in about a week.

                            Peace.

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                              I read a fascinating story in the LA Times about this huge collection of 20th century western art being kept in the basement/archives of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Iran. Apparently pre-Islamic Revolution, during the Shah’s regime, the government funded a massive procurement of works by the masters of 20th century painting. Unfortunately, between the current regime’s anti-western stance, and the decidedly non-Islamic subject matter of some of the works, they aren’t on display to the public.

                              Here’s a link to the article, though it’s behind one of those annoying subscription walls.

                              “You can’t find any collection of this comprehension outside the Western world,” said Samiazar, who now teaches at a Tehran art institute. “In Tokyo, you may find important works by Impressionist artists. But in terms of a comprehensive collection covering all the major movements, no. Nowhere. Not in the East European countries, not in Scandinavia, not in South America or Asia. Not anywhere. It’s one of the most important cultural assets of this country.”

                              Curiously enough, the museum’s website not only lists all the works in the collection, but has links to pictures of each piece.

                              “Monet’s “Environ de Giverny,” Max Ernst’s “Histoire Naturelle.” Four of Andy Warhol’s Mick Jaggers and a Mao Tse-tung. Georges Braque’s “Guitar, Fruits et Pichet,” and an Edvard Munch self-portrait. One of Edgar Degas’ Dancers. Gauguin, Matisse, Renoir, Chagall, Klee, Whistler, Rodin, Duchamp, Dali. Photographs by Man Ray. Important Abstract Expressionists such as Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko.”

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