I was contacted by one of the creators of this series of comic books, Cameron Douraghy, via phone. Talking with Cameron, I mentioned that I only possibly ‘review blog’ comics / graphic novels from ‘hard copies’, (a policy since March of 2010 when I realized that I was being flooded with .pdfs and not getting to them as I don’t use my laptop for reading for pleasure).

While talking with Cameron on the phone, I was checking with my laptop on whatever I could find on the series.

I was surprised to see a familiar name in the credits. Karl Altstaetter was the illustrator for all four issues of the series published thus far. Surprised because I’ve seen Karl at a few comic cons in the fast few years, and don’t remember seeing this series on his table in the Artists Alleys he has been in…

(Note: I have review blogged Karl’s own self-published series of ‘Emerald City Blues (a.k.a. ECB) in this Blog, starting back in December of 2009.)

So even though the storyline was one I was not familiar with… The fact alone that Karl had illustrated it, made me receptive to seeing an issue in hard copy format.

I was expecting to see the 1st issue of the comic book in the mail, and was surprised / pleased to see all four issues printed to date in the package.

When I was ready to start reading them, I realized that there wasn’t any issue number on the front covers. So I looked on the inside front cover at the bottom left to see any publishing date. So placing them in date published order, I started reading them…

It appears that the series has been published similiar to what I can best describe as in ‘Star Wars’ order. No, the storyline isn’t ‘sci-fi’, but instead, just like ‘Star Wars’, the middle ‘episode’ was presented first, and then after the middle to ‘end’ was published, the first episode was presented / published.

No wonder I was just a little ‘confused’ when reading! Add to that fact, this ‘Rostam’ storyline is based on 55,000 couplets, which contain over 100,000 verses, and this series has incorporated what it could in four isues so far!

As a little bit of background for those of you that aren’t aware of the story of Rostam, (neither was I!), here is a brief background from the Wikipedia entry:

“Rostam (pronounced [ɾostæm, ɾʊstæm]) is the national hero of Greater Iran from Zabulistan in Persian mythology and son of Zal and Rudaba. In some ways, the position of Rostam in the historical tradition is parallel to that of Surena, the hero of the Carrhae. His figure was endowed with many features of the historical personality of Rostam. The latter was always represented as the mightiest of Iranian paladins, and the atmosphere of the episodes in which he features is strongly reminiscent of the Arsacid period. He was immortalized by the 10th century poet Ferdowsi of Tus in the Shahnameh or Epic of Kings, which contain pre-Islamic folklore and history. He also called Rostam “Dastan” (pronounced das-TAN), which means strong.”

Which is very helpful to read prior to reading the series, IMO.

Not that this series isn’t a fun-to-read series, but like another series that I’ve recently read and review blogged, (Yi Soon Shin from Onrie Kompan Productions), I didn’t know the historical story of the main character, nor the incidents in history that the series covered.

However, just like the other series I just mentioned, I found myself engaged in reading each issue. It was helpful that each issue was basically a self contained story. Which may have been why the series is not numbered on the front cover…

Here’s what the publisher has for the promo info on the series via the web site:

“Rostam: Tales from The Shahnameh is the 1st series of books from the Publishers at Hyperwerks, bringing Ferdowsi’s Masterpiece to life into the American Comic Book Genre. Written over 1,000 years ago, “The Shahnameh” chronicles Persia’s rich Mythological and Historical traditions and contains some 100,000 verses of poetry (making it over seven times the size of Homers’ Illiad).”

So what’s my ‘take’ on this series of comics?

As stated earlier, I was not aware of the background story of this main character. It was ‘foreign’ to me. However, because of the way the writer enveloped me into the storyline that was being presented, and the fact that I was already ‘partial’ to Karl’s style of artwork, I found myself wanting to read issue after issue.

The fact that the storyline seemed a little ‘out of order’ to me in order of being published was explained to me by Cameron when calling him on the phone after reading the series. This will be addressed when a TPB is published.

I found that after reading the four issues, that this was a good ‘intro’ to the story first written by Hakīm Abu’l-Qāsim Firdowsī Tūsī, more commonly transliterated to Ferdowsi, (940 C.E. – 1020 C.E.).

I admire the creators of this series, who have taken an immense body of work, and transformed it into a comic book series. That had to take a lot of effort to do! And of course with so much to draw from, the storyline is not over yet!

My understanding is that the creators want to add additional pages to a projected TBP compilation of what has been published so far. That TPB would be a nice volume to have on a book shelf, but being more a fan of the ‘floppy’ comic book format, I would suggest picking up one of the issues published thus far, to see what is happening with ‘Rostam’ in a comic book format.

My Review Rating for the four issues published thus far in the series is a VERY FINE PLUS (VF+) 8.5 out of a possible 10.0 Comic Book Grading scale.

Here is the link to the Facebook Fan Page for Rostam – Tales From The Shahnameh, where you can be interactive with the creators.

Here is the link to web site for The Shahnameh, where you can see more of the creators have published so far.

I look forward to seeing more from the creators on this storyline in the months to come.

My thanks to Cameron Douraghy, for following up with me on the status of a possible review blog for this series of comics!

~Michael D Hamersky