Warning! for the comix adverse: please be advised that the following commentary involves discussion of a graphic novel. Govern yourself accordingly. Are you all gone? Good, now we can proceed…
As I mentioned, this is a graphic novel. It is the autobiographical story of the young Marjane as a little girl in Iran during the time of the Shah’s rule and the subsequent Islamic Revolution. It is a fascinating story, all the more so because it is true. Marjane grew up in many ways just like all of us. All she wanted when her parents went to Turkey for vacation was a Kim Wilde poster. Cool. Now she is apparently an Iggy Pop fan. Did I mention that Ms. Satrapi is really hot? Where was I?
Oh yeah, the story. There is a lot of back story on Iran’s history and its culture. I vaguely remember the Shah’s exile as a kid myself, and this a pain free way to learn what that was all about. I came to this book late. It’s sequel, Persepolis 2 came out to much critical acclaim, but I had to go back and read this one first, obviously. Persepolis takes us up to when Marjane was 14 years old and her parents sent her to Austria to live with a friend while she attended a French school. Persepolis 2, presumably will take us from there. Her most recent book, Embroideries, has just been released, and it is a collection of racy stories that she remembers old Iranian women telling one another. That may be a chick book, we’ll see. Look for future reports on the complete Marjane oeuvre coming soon. I will be reading them all. I can’t say enough good things about this book. If you are interested in finding out what the graphic novel hooplah is all about, this is an excellent “gateway” graphic novel.
Here’s a fun and unlikely fact. Persepolis was required reading this year for West Point cadets. Ms. Satrapi was invited to speak to cadets at West Point, where they got to hear her lecture first hand. She was not all that complementary about Senor Bush (who is). But she was fairly impressed that this country’s top military academy invited her to speak. Me too. Bookslut has an interview with her that you may find interesting.
Bonus comix: If you prefer the guy-with-cape style comic, Michael Chabon has been working on a quarterly old-school comic book based upon the action character developed by the fictional Kavlier & Clay, The Escapist. The conceit of these comic books is that they are a collection of Escapist stories that have been published over the decades by different authors and comic-publishing houses. So each issue has some completely made up history about The Escapist franchise and how it evolved. It is all completely straight faced, but it lets you in on the joke from time to time – if you are down. This allows for a wide range of guest artists, writers, and stories. It’s pretty cool. The next issue, #7, which comes out in July will be a full issue Escapist story by Micheal Chabon himself. Check it out.