Zahra’s Paradise by Amir and Kahlil
This graphic novel was first serialized in the form of a webcomic in 2010. The story is set in 2009 in Iran following the contentious national elections that took place there. Medhi, a student activist, goes missing after the demonstrations that followed the election. Medhi’s mother and brother, along with friends, initiate an epic mission to find him, knowing very well that he could be seriously injured or even dead. This graphic novel highlights the power of individual perseverance, especially in the character of the protestor’s mother, who will stop at nothing to find her son. This book is not for the faint of heart as there are some gruesome moments that call for reader caution. However, such moments highlight the unjust political atmosphere in which the characters live. Some reviewers have praised this work, comparing it to the illustrious Maus books by graphic novel genius, Art Spiegelman.
Epileptic by David B.
This engrossing graphic novel caught my attention with its rigorous, stark, expressionistic illustrations, as well as its touching story that describes a family desperately searching for a cure for their epileptic child. The book is a complicated work that deals with themes as diverse as contemporary French history, to holistic medical remedies, to the psychological dynamics of sibling relationships. The artwork is rendered in a frantic, symbolic way that takes the reader to the haunting atmosphere of David B.’s emotions (which at first glance seem to mimic a type of madness) as he struggles to comprehend the pain that his brother endures daily. The story of the family caring for the epileptic, and the author’s hardships as both friend and caregiver, carry the reader through a dreamlike, hallucinatory visual world. If a reader chooses to explore the works of David B., they should think about starting with this autobiographical piece before checking-out any of his more abstract and fictional titles, such as Incidents in the Night and Black Paths.