Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Shahnameh of Ferdowsi Persian Book of Kings Graphic Novel Comic Format Part 2

In my first post on The Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the Persian Book of Kings, I offered a brief introduction to the classic epic poem of Iran and provided a guide to collecting the contemporary and comprehensive Dick Davis translation.  Here I will introduce the graphic novel, comic book, edition published by Hyperwerks.  I have never participated in the comic book collecting marketplace but lately, I have developed an interest in fine contemporary graphic novels and have written about it some here, here and here.  I do plan on collecting this series of comic books and expect to learn much about comic book collecting along the way.

Rostam: Tales from the Shahnameh is the creation of childhood friends, Jamie and Cameron Douraghy and Bruce Bahmani building on the American comic book tradition of mining folklore for subject matter.  They share an Iranian/Persian heritage and life long familiarity with the tales of The Shahnameh.  Their primary motivation was sharing those tales with the English speaking world, science fiction fantasy buffs and the youth of the ongoing Persian diaspora looking to connect with their native cultural traditions.  The series was launched in 2004 and 4 issues are in print.

Are these collectible?  It all depends on your interests.  For me, I am seriously interested in The Shahnameh as a classic of world literature and as a terrific introduction to the deep roots of Persian culture.  I'm collecting these to read, enjoy and as a bridge to better understanding a Persian worldview.   Over time these may become more valuable to comic book collectors but for now, I will simply acquire, read and carefully store each issue.  I have not been able to find any stated first printing copies for sale and must take what comes in terms of printing history.  Over time, I will keep an eye out for stated first printings of each issue and acquire firsts for the 4 issues in print now.

Do visit the very impressive web site associated with Rostam:  Tales from the Shahnameh.  The site provides slide shows of all the artwork in each issue, information on the history of The Shahnameh, and social networking opportunities. 

Rostam Tales from the Shahnameh: Rostam and Sohrab, Hyperwerks, 32 pages. ISBN 0977021319, 2004, in the first issue in the Series. It is available for sale directly from the official website and via on-line bookstores, although currently out of stock at my default store.  In fact, if you order all 4 via the official web site link above, you save 20%!

Rostam Tales from the Shahnameh: Return of the King, Hyperwerks,  32 pages, ISBN 0977021327, 2007 is the second issue.

Rostam Tales from the Shahnameh: Battle with the Deevs, 36 pages, ISBN 9780977021338, 2009 is the third issue.

Rostam Tales from the Shahnameh: Search for the King, 36 pages,  ISBN 9780977021345, 2010, is the latest release.

The Shahnameh of Ferdowsi is a massive epic poem with 62 stories, 990 chapters, and 55,000 rhyming couplets providing an extremely rich source for continuing issues.  Rostam is the most beloved hero of the epic, undertook the seven labors (think Hercules) and his adventures dominate the Heroic Era which is 65% of the epic.  I am looking forward to the initial 4 issues and will anxiously await new releases.

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