The Illustrated PEN is a weekly online series that aspires to be at the intersection of literature, journalism, and visual storytelling, where images and words come together in an ever-emerging and essential creative form. We’ll feature fiction and nonfiction graphic narratives, comics journalism and illustrated reportage, stories of social justice and personal stories that can’t be told through words alone.

This week, we feature an extract from Mana Neyestani’s graphic novel An Iranian Metamophosis. In 2006, Neyestani, a cartoonist and illustrator, was the center of controversy when his children’s cartoon in the newspaper Iran provoked offense amongst the Iranian Azerbaijani population. In response to the outcry, the newspaper was shut down, and Neyestani and his editor were placed in solitary confinement in an Iranian jail. An Iranian Metamorphosis is a complex, nuanced, and imaginative depiction of Neyestani’s imprisonment. 

A longer portion of this excerpt was first featured in issue 18 of PEN America: A Journal for Writers and Readers.

An Iranian Metamorphosis is published by Uncivilized Books.