My Spectre story in DC Universe Holiday Special 2010 #1

December 8, 2010 saw the release of my first work as a writer for DC Comics, in the form of an 8-page Spectre story in the DC Universe Holiday Special 2010 #1. (Aside to FOX “News”: yes, that’s right. Holiday Special. Not Christmas Special. Because all your fears were correct, there really is a War on Christmas (TM) and guess who contributed to it? Me. An Iranian! Gasp! And my story deals with Norouz, the Persian New Year. So yes, feel free to invite me to one of your fine programs and browbeat and berate me in the name of saving America and its children. Any of them will do, The Hannity Factor, or Glenn O’Reilly, or any of the half dozen shows hosted by Fox Interchangeable Attractive Blonde Female Reporter Standard Model #B-726.)

Er, sorry. Where was I? Oh right, the DC Holiday Special. It’s a one-shot, costs $5, and in it you’ll find six 8-page stories featuring various DC Universe characters from different timelines dealing with an aspect of the season. And it’s all wrapped up under a nice Matt Haley cover:

DC UNIVERSE HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2010 #1

Written by DAN ABNETT & ANDY LANNING, SETH ALBANO, TONY BEDARD, JOEY CAVALIERI, KEVIN GREVIOUX and DARA NARAGHI
Art by RENATO ARLEM, ROBERTO CASTRO, RICHARD & TANYA HORIE, CARLO SORIANO and more
Cover by MATT HALEY

From the dawn of time (Anthro) to the far-flung future (Legion of Super-Heroes), sentient life has honored the winter holidays with celebrations and rituals as diverse as the universe itself! Join DC Comics – and a stellar team of writers and artists – to honor the vast and diverse holidays of the DC Universe in 6 tales of holiday cheer! Starring the aforementioned characters along with Superman, The Spectre, Jonah Hex, and Green Lantern John Stewart for a HOLIDAY SPECIAL like no other!

So I thought it would be fun to show a tiny bit of the process behind creating my story. We’ll just look at the first page. First up, my script for page 1:

Suggested Page Layout: 1 x 1

PANEL 1: Wide/Large, about 3/4 page. We open with a dramatic shot of The Spectre flying high over Tehran, Iran. It’s a sunny spring day, with the clear blue sky and the snow-capped mountain range in the background nicely juxtaposed against the densely populated urban sprawl below. (References: with mountains here and here, without mountains here)

1. Masthead/Logo: The Spectre

2. Caption (credits): “The Gift”
Dara Naraghi – Writer, etc.

3. Caption: Tehran, Iran. On the eve of the vernal equinox.

4. Caption (Crispus): Being what you’d call a non-believer, the holidays, to me, were always more about spending time with family than anything else.

5. Caption (Crispus): But after my death, they lost even that meaning.

6. Caption (Crispus): So this year, I ditched the painful memories at home for the far corners of the world. I’ve been at it for a few months.

PANEL 2: Wide. The Spectre is now “landing” on a busy street in a rich part of town, lined with high-end stores and boutiques. Show several young, attractive, trendy Iranian women carrying shopping bags. (References: here and here) Also show a beggar sitting on the sidewalk, panhandling.

7. Caption (Crispus): Guess there are a few perks to being The Spectre’s human host. No borders. No jet lag.

8. Caption (Crispus): And apparently no need for a Farsi translator. I understand what everyone around me is talking about.

9. Caption (Crispus): From the rich…

10. Caption (Crispus): …to the poor.

You’ll notice a lot of “here” and “here” talk in the descriptions. That’s where I linked to URLs of photo references for the artist in my Word document; I just didn’t reproduce them in the sample above.

Anyway, next step is the pencils, which were provided by Tom Derenick:

The pencils were then inked by Norm Rapmund, and a proof of the initial lettering was done, in this case featuring the lettering of Travis Lanham:

And finally, here’s the finished page, including colors by Chris Beckett. You’ll notice some of the lettering on the story title was tweaked from the previous stage:

And of course, editor Mike Carlin guided the whole book through from start to finish, assisted by Rachel Gluckstern. So there you have it, the magic of comic book creation, demystified.

The only small downer is that a couple of lettering mistakes that were caught during the production phase somehow didn’t get corrected before printing, and ended up in the final product. Oh well, nothing can be done about it now. I’m still quite happy with the story, and hope you’ll enjoy it as well.

So if you picked up the book, drop me an email or leave a comment below and share your thoughts. What worked and what didn’t? I’d love to hear from you.

Short story in Dark Horse Presents #4

My autobiographical story “The Protest” will see print in Dark Horse Presents #4, shipping to comic shops everywhere September 21, 2011.

Here’s a look at the official solicitation, and the two different covers for the book, by the talented Ms. Fiona Staples:

…and Mr. Geof Darrow:

Dark Horse Presents #4 – 80 color pages – no ads – $7.99

The hallmark anthology continues with another spectacular eighty-page issue! In this installment, stories by creators Howard Chaykin (The Chronicles of Solomon Kane), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), and Sanford Greene continue. Joined by exciting new shorts from Ricardo Delgado and Jim Campbell, Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, and Filipé Melo, this issue is certain to have something for everyone! Plus, the first chapters of brand-new Beasts of Burden and Criminal Macabre stories! If that wasn’t enough, we’ve included another demented strip by Patrick Alexander and an exclusive interview with Geof Darrow!

And here’s a look at a page from my story, illustrated by my frequent artistic partner in crime, Victor Santos:

Set in Iran, post-Islamic revolution, “The Protest” is a story of growing up during turbulent times, class bullies, and unexpected outcomes.

Short story in the CBLDF Liberty Annual 2011

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Liberty Annual is a comics anthology featuring big name comic book creators, as well as some up-and-coming young’uns such as yours truly, whose sale benefits the CBLDF. This year’s book is 48 full color pages, retailing for $5, and will be available mid-October from Image Comics.

The 2011 edition comes with two covers, from personal favorite Matt Wagner (featuring his Grendel character) and fan favorite John Cassaday (featuring Uncle Sam). Here’s the solicitation for the book:

CBLDF Liberty Annual 2011

story MATT WAGNER, J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI, KAZIM ALI, DARA NARAGHI, J.H. WILLIAMS III, MARK WAID, CARLA SPEED MCNEIL, AJ LIEBERMAN, MICHAEL BRAMLEY, STEVE NILES, BRANDON MONTCLARE, JUDD WINICK, RICHARD STARKINGS

art MATT WAGNER, KEVIN SACCO, CRAIG THOMPSON, CHRIS MITTEN, J.H. WILLIAMS III, JEFF LEMIRE, CARLA SPEED MCNEIL, RILEY ROSSMO, FRANK QUITELY, SHANE DAVIS, FRED HEMBECK, MICHAEL MONTENAT & JACK PURCELL, JOËLLE JONES, GREG LAND, GREG HORN, THIAGO MICALOPULOS & RODNEY RAMOS, DUSTIN NGUYEN, DAVE COOPER, IVAN REIS, SHAKY KANE

cover A JOHN CASSADAY
cover B MATT WAGNER

OCTOBER 12
48 PAGES / FC / M
$4.99

A COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND BENEFIT BOOK!

Stand Up For Your Rights! Censorship is the ultimate form of bullying. Censors want to take away the power people have to think, speak, or create freely. In CBLDF LIBERTY ANNUAL 2011, Legendary Editor BOB SCHRECK gathers an all-star line-up of comics creators to stand up to those censoring bullies with 48 powerful pages of ALL NEW story and art about standing up for your rights! All proceeds from this book benefit the important First Amendment work of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who’ve been fighting censorship in comics for 25 years!

This year’s Liberty Annual includes incredible contributions, including all-new original stories by superstars J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI, FRANK QUITELY, J.H. WILLIAMS III, STEVE NILES, JUDD WINICK, MARK WAID, and CARLA SPEED MCNEIL. Plus, new tales featuring GRENDEL by MATT WAGNER, COWBOY NINJA VIKING by AJ LIEBERMAN & RILEY ROSSMO, and ELEPHANTMEN by RICHARD STARKINGS & SHAKY KANE. Plus a massive, and first ever color story from indy comics master CRAIG THOMPSON! Even Marvel and DC have stepped up to show their support all-new pin-ups including BATMAN by DUSTIN NGUYEN, X-MEN by GREG LAND, GREEN LANTERN by IVAN REIS, and THE AVENGERS by GREG HORN!

All proceeds from CBLDF Liberty Annual 2011 will benefit the important First Amendment legal work of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians and readers.

My contribution is a 3-page autobiographical short on the topic of freedom of religion. Titled “The Conversion,” it deals with an incident that happened to me in Iran when I was a kid. Here’s a sneak peek at page 1, featuring the artwork of Christopher Mitten:

Please ask your retailer to save you a copy, and remember that it benefits the work of the fund in fighting censorship and protecting comic creators’ first amendment rights.