‘Zahra’s Paradise’ Creators Talk Multi-Cultural Collaboration [Video]
Set against the disputed Iranian elections of 2009, Zahra’s Paradise tells the story of a mother on a quest to find her missing teenage son, who disappeared amidst the chaos. First serialized online and later published as a book by First Second, Zahra’s Paradise was nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic, and has earned praise and coverage from sources around the world.
In a new feature by the BBC, Persian writer Amir and Jewish editor Marc Siegel discuss the unique and progressive collaboration that led to the creation and success of Zahra’s Paradise, which was illustrated by Arab artist Khalil (the writer and artist use first names only, for their protection).
The creators took inspiration for Zahra’s Paradise from the Iranian bloggers who documented their country’s political strife in 2009, and the story’s characters — which include a blogger — pass through vignettes that were gleaned from such accounts. Amir counts the comic itself as a similarly guerilla form of expression, saying that at the time cameras were likely to be confiscated, “but all you need to create a comic book is a pencil and imagination” and “when you combine the graphic novel and the internet, all the barriers of space, time and language that would prevent you from getting a message out are gone.”
Zahra’s Paradise is available in print from First Second, and the entire story can be read for free online.