I am childishly excited about the possibilities of the graphic novel—thus my repeated laments about the Egyptian government’s censorship of Magdy Shafee’s Metro. In itself, the Metro didn’t speak to me, but I would love to see the graphic-novel format creating new audiences, and new appetites, in the Arabic-reading world. (And in the Urdu-reading world, the Farsi-reading world, and so on.)

I don’t see it as a replacement for traditional books; more of a gateway drug. Once you’ve puffed on a graphic novel, perhaps you’ll be drawn into the other stuff.

Or perhaps it’ll push the rest of us out of existence.

In any case, although it’s not strictly in my blogging charter, I’d like to celebrate this collaboration:

“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.”

It’s called Zahra’s Paradise, and is set in the aftermath of Iran’s 2009 elections.

It’s 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 site also notes: “The authors have chosen anonymity for obvious political reasons.”

Read it here.

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