I’m thrilled to announce that Persia Blues, my graphic novel with artist Brent Bowman and published by NBM, is a finalist for the 2014 S.P.A.C.E. Prize in the graphic novel category!
Here’s a brief note about the show, and a look at the other finalists:
Now coming up on it’s 16th year, S.P.A.C.E. (Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo) is the Midwest’s longest running exhibition of small press,creator owned and art comics. And Columbus’ only locally owned and operated comics show. Sponsored by Back Porch Comics.
The winners will be picked from three voting bodies in each category: two rotating judges and the registered SPACE 2014 Exhibitors themselves.
Winners will be announced at next year’s SPACE, which takes place in Columbus, Ohio on April 11 & 12, 2015. Brent and I are hard at work on vol. 2, and I’ll be sharing some new art soon, right here on the NBM blog.
On Saturday, November 2, I will be one of the many guests at the 26th Annual Buckeye Book Fair in Wooster, Ohio (near Cleveland). My artist partner in crime Brent Bowman will also be on hand to sign copies of Persia Blues, plus a killer print he’s made just for the show.
“Celebrates Ohio’s Influence in Literature
The annual Buckeye Book Fair is a full day event featuring nearly 100 Ohio authors and illustrators who meet with readers and autograph copies of their latest works. Thousands of attendees from all over Ohio come to mingle, shop for books, and celebrate the joys of reading and writing.”
The show runs from 9:30 – 4:00. If you’re in Ohio or nearby, we hope you can make
(View part 1 here)
As I mentioned in the previous post in this series, some of the pictures I took on my last trip to Iran served as both reference and inspiration for artist Brent Bowman while creating our Persia Blues graphic novel. Here’s a set taken at the Military Museum, on the former grounds of the Shah’s palaces, all of which now serve as museums.
We’ll start with a couple of examples of historical military uniforms, I believe from the Achaemenid period:
And some banners and iconography, including the Standard of Cyrus the Great (the blue square banner in the back):
And of course ancient weapons, including swords, battle axes, spears, maces, and clubs:
Next: more pictures from the Nation Palace Museum, Green Museum, and others.
I’m guessing many of the readers of the NBM blog are also on Goodreads, the social networking site for book lovers. If not, then now’s a good a time as any to signup because you have till the end of the week to enter to win a signed copy of my latest graphic novel, Persia Blues!
Giveaway ends August 31, 2013. See the details at Goodreads.
When creating and writing Persia Blues, I drew from a lot of sources, including my own memories of growing up in Iran, pre and post revolution. I also incorporated bits and pieces from my parents’ experiences, stories told by family members and friends, and my 2 visits back to Iran as an adult. The first of those was in the summer of 2000, and unfortunately the pictures I took were of the old school variety, i.e. not digital. One day I’d like to scan them all in and be able to share them more easily.
But on my second trip I had a digital camera, and although we spent all of our time in Tehran, and not some of the locations depicted in the book (Shiraz, Persepolis, etc.) I thought it might be fun to share some of those pics. Think of these as references, inspiration, or supplementary material used by Brent and I during the creation of the book.
Here’s a shot of north Tehran, nestled at the base of the Alborz mountain range. This isn’t a setting used in the book, but I just wanted to share this pic of where I grew up as a kid. Of course, when I was living there, most of those high rises didn’t exist:
This is a small bazaar in north Tehran. The one depicted in the book is the much larger, historical Vakil Bazaar In Shiraz, but you get the idea. By the way, the stylishly dressed woman in the foreground is my mom:
There’s a scene at the beginning of the book that shows Minoo navigating her way expertly around the challenging act of driving in Iran. This picture shows what’s considered light traffic in Tehran. And this is in the suburbs, not the heart of downtown:
There’s another scene at the beginning of the book where Minoo gets into an altercation with the Morality Police. Here’s one of their vans:
I was admonished by the “officers” who, unbeknownst to me, were standing behind me when I took this shot. They said I shouldn’t be taking pictures of state vehicles. I played the dumb tourist role and apologized, saying I was taking a picture of the public art sculpture in front of their car.
Next: pics from the Museum of Fine Arts, depicting some of the historical elements used in the book.
One of the exciting things about creating and writing Persia Blues is that I get to share some of the history and culture of my birthplace, Iran. I wanted to weave this into the fabric of the story, from Minoo’s childhood all the way through adulthood. And even beyond, when her life’s journey brings her to the US, I wanted to use real settings that both Brent Bowman (my artist) and I are familiar with, to give the story a real grounded feel.
The trick was figuring out how to feature these things in a seamless manner, without them becoming distracting. After all, I wanted to tell a story about a young woman’s life and search for identity, not write a history textbook or a cookbook on Persian cuisine. So one approach was to include little, unobtrusive footnotes explaining the meaning of certain Fari words or cultural references that appeared casually in the dialogue. And, of course, do so sparingly.
The other was to put together a fun, dynamic resource external to the book, as sort of a supplement. Enter Pinterest:
For those of you unfamiliar with Pinterest, it’s a social media sharing site that utilizes a “pinboard” model. You can create multiple “boards” and “pin” pictures (and links) from around the web on them, usually organized by a theme. So I decided to create a whole series of boards devoted to providing background and supplementary material on Persia Blues.
What are some of the things you can expect to find there? Lots of pictures and recipes for Persian foods, pictures and links to articles about modern Iran, as well as ancient Persia. And other boards devoted to the other settings from the book, including my hometown of Columbus, Ohio.
You can check it all out here: Persia Blues on Pinterest.
Despite my best intentions to blog more frequently here about my upcoming book, Persia Blues, I find all my free time jeopardized by the mad dash to the finish line. The book is about a month away from release, and I’m lettering the final few pages tonight. But just because I don’t have time for a lengthy post, it doesn’t mean I can’t at least share some artwork with you.
My partner on the book, artist Brent Bowman, has been absolutely tearing it up with the visuals. This is no small feat, since he’s using two different art styles to depict the two different settings of the book. So presented below, sans dialogue, are a couple of splash pages from the first volume, to give you a feel for what’s in store for you:
And a very different scene…
How these disparate elements converge into one story is at the very heart of the book’s overarching narrative.
I hope you’ll join us for the fun.
Sorry I’ve been incommunicado for a while. Between trying to finish the book, an increased workload at my day job, and oh yeah, getting married, my free time had all but disappeared. But now that at least the wedding is behind me, I’m going to get back into a semi-regular blogging schedule here.
To ease back into things, I thought I’d start by sharing a couple pieces of art related to our Kickstarter campaign (which, by the way, was quite successful, coming in at 112% of our initial goal). First, here are images of the front and back of the giant 6×9 postcard we’ll be sending out to all our backers, to thank them for their support:
I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. With a nice matte finish, these cards are nice little artifacts suitable for framing, and we plan on handing them out at conventions and shows to help promote the book. By the way, if you would like to receive one for yourself, please contact me (via the official Persia Blues website) and I’ll be more than happy to mail you one.
Next up is page 3 of the book, beautifully rendered by series artist Brent Bowman. This page is the start of a four-page sequence wherein our protagonists are confronted by some rather unsavory brigands. But what makes this especially fun is that the likeness of the lead brigand is based on Yiri, the husband of fellow NBM creator Margreet de Heer (Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics, Science: a Discovery in Comics):
Margreet was an early and generous supporter of our Kickstarter campaign, and took us up on our offer to “appear as a character in the book.” But she actually wanted to surprise her husband Yiri by having him drawn in the book. So we set off on a clandestine mission to gather photo references for the artwork, friending Yiri on Facebook and trying to be inconspicuous in our efforts. But then Margreet confessed that she’s terrible at keeping secrets, and had already spilled the beans to her husband!
Yiri, we hope you enjoy your small role in our story, and please accept my apologies for the rather unfortunate fate of your “character” in the book.
Next: more artowrk, and a look at the non-fantasy aspects of the book.
Hi, Dara Naraghi here, author of the recently announced Persia Blues graphic novel series, coming your way in 2013 from the fine folks here at NBM.
A brief introduction: I was born in Iran, back before the Islamic Revolution. My family lived there through the revolt, the subsequent new regime, and the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war. Seeking a better life for us, my parents were eventually able to move us to the US, where I went to high school and college. I currently work as a project manager in the IT field, but comics and sequential art have always been my first love. Growing up in Iran, we were exposed to some American comics, especially the well-known superheroes like Batman and Superman. However, it was the translated European graphic albums that reigned supreme, with the most popular, of course, being Herge’s Tin Tin series. So from a very young age, comics were baked into my DNA.
During college, I began dabbling in writing on the side, and even got involved with a fly-by-night indie comics publisher operating out of the west coast. Well, more like the publisher’s spare bedroom, which happened to be in an apartment in a city on the West coast. That experience soured me on the business side of comics for a while, and I lost interest in creating comics, though I still remained a fan of the medium. It wasn’t until about a dozen years ago that I met some similar minded creators in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, that I started to become serious about writing again. We ended up calling ourselves the PANEL Collective, and have been creating and self-publishing small press comix for over 10 years now.
But that’s a story for another post.
However, I will mention that it was through PANEL that I met and befriended the artist that would eventually team up with me on Persia Blues. That’s a story for another post as well, but it wouldn’t be fair of me to blabber on without at least giving you a taste of Brent Bowman’s fantastic work. So here it is, a double-page splash from our book, that distills a lot of the characters and settings of the Persian Empire’s history and mythology into one image, a sort of roadmap for at least half of the series:
OK, so lots to talk about in future blog posts, but before I go, I do want to mention one last thing: ‘m currently running a Kickstarter campaign to help compensate Brent for all his work on the book. As of this writing, we only have 7 days left. We’re offering a variety of unique and cool incentives, including Persian cusine recipes and a chance to appear in the book. So please click on the image below and take a few minutes to check everything out.
Thanks, and if you like what you see, please consider posting the link on Facebook or sending it to your friends. Word of mouth is the best way to help us get more eyes on the project.
Next: more stories, more art