By Dara Naraghi & various (IDW)
ISBN: 978-1-60010-122-9

We do it for fame, we do it for fortune (or at least to pay bills), we do it for fun and the very best of us make comics because we absolutely have to. Every story we hear, every event we see provokes the reaction “how would I break that down into panels? How many on the page?” All data – from shopping lists to bad TV – is taken in, screened through an internal grid and then we worry about how we’ll draw the damn thing one day…

All creative people are a little bit chained to their art-form, and Dara Naraghi apparently more so than most. As well as his own celebrated BigCityBlues comic he keeps busy adapting licensed properties such as Robert Patterson’s Witch & Wizard novels, Terminator: Salvation, It! The Terror From Beyond Space and Ghostbusters into comics form, writing for DC, Image and IDW and running his own publishing house Ferret Press. He also scripts (and occasionally draws) utterly wonderful tales covering every aspect of the human experience from wild fantasy to chilling slice-of-life in a splendid series of webcomic features.

Wonderfully expansive in narrative scope and illustrated by an astounding gathering of talented graphic artisans, an exemplary bunch of these brief delights has been compiled into a fabulous hardcover compilation. All the stories in this anthology come from that webcomic site and are written (and lettered) by Naraghi, complete with commentary and context on the illustrators interpreting each piece.

The wonderment begins with ‘The Long Journey’ illustrated by Irapuan Luiz, which follows the dramatic escape of a disillusioned Iranian soldier determined to leave the Iran-Iraq War behind him forever. Naraghi is Iranian (born in Tehran in 1971) and no doubt his own journey to the west would make pretty interesting reading, although probably without the telling sting in the tale embedded here…

‘Imaginarians’ winningly crafted by award winning artist Tom Williams, takes a barbed look at how the media deals with artists on the promo circuit whilst equally lauded Marvin Mann’s atmospheric ‘Double Cross at the Double Down’ proves that even if crime doesn’t pay, stories about it definitely do.

‘Art/Life’ rendered by Neil Errar is a feel-good fable about a comics creator we all concur with, Jerry Lange’s moody, misty paint-and-Paintbox (showing my digital age there) treatment examines the exquisite pain of unconditional love lost with ‘Remembrance’ whilst Stephen Spenser Ledford opts for monochrome ink washes to recount a particularly trenchant tale of crime and ‘Punishment.’

Sex and booze and rock ‘n’ roll form the basis of the cheeky dating vignette ‘Intermission’, illustrated by Andy Bennett, whilst Jerry Lange’s watercolour expertise displays a different arena for the relationship dance in ‘Crush’ and ‘Comeback’ by Tim McClurg describes a the meteoric fall from stardom for a has-been actor.

Marvin Mann displays his artistic versatility in ‘Smoke Break’, a heartwarming look at modern life and ‘The Routine’ by Steve Black touchingly reminds us that even small victories count in our work-a-day world, whereas the stunning drawing of Adrian Barbu’s gritty thriller ‘Rooftop Philosophy’ adds acres of edge to a dark tale of criminal Darwinism. Tom Williams astounds again with ‘Skin Deep’ a charming semi-autobiographical shaggy-dog story and pictorial programme ends on a heartwarming high note with ‘Repair’ as Shom Bhuiya treats us to a view of the common man at his very best…

The 14 tales collected in Lifelike demonstrate the sheer breadth that material comics could and should be covering rather than the narrow band of easily defined genres usually seen. This book opens up all of human experience and imagination to the cartoonist’s particular skills and insights. Now it’s up to the rest of us to respond and react…

Created and © 2007 Dara Naraghi. All artwork © 2007 by its respective artist. © 2007 Idea and Design Workshop. All Rights Reserved.

Read Dara’s free webcomic, Lifelike under the Stan Lee’s Sunday Comics banner @