Why the Graphic Novel is Perfect for Satrapi

Marjane is a bit of rogue, you must admit.  She may have injected some steroids into her fictional self’s subversive attitude, but I get the feeling that she is very much like the outspoken, free-willed individual we get to know through her graphic novel.  That is, why I feel, she chose such a medium.  The graphic novel itself, though not entirely new, is one that avoids classification, canonization, and academia in general.  Judging by the posts, most of us were surprised at how effective Satrapi was in depicting her story through an illustrated narrative constructed in a long series of frames.  It is surprising (and refreshing) isn’t it?  To study a book of pictures in a college course.  I can’t see Persepolis working in any other way though.  Satrapi’s voice is perfect for the graphic novel because of her spunky personality, tendency towards humor, and wild imagination.  Because her life story is quite sad, almost tragic in a way, the graphic novel gives her an authentic way to capture the audience and makes her themes of war and alienation less oppressive on the reader and more emotionally accessible.  She states in an interview with The Believer, “If I were to write a memoir with words, I’d have to figure out a way to express verbally an image I have in my mind. In my case, it’s easier to draw it. And words also are filters. They have to be translated. Even in the original language, there is interpretation and some ambiguity. If there’s a cultural difference between the writer and the reader, that might come out in words. But with pictures, there’s more efficiency.”  Maybe this is why her book (and film) have had such success, but I also think it is Satrapi’s own life that has been caught between the “East” and “West”.  The graphic novel is also in an in between state, which is why it fits her so well.  Here’s another quote from that interview, “Well, of course I do have a little bit of hope. Otherwise, I would just take a shotgun and end it all now. Since I’m alive, I’ll always hope that a miracle could descend on us. My intellect sees no way out, but my instinct for survival is hopeful. It says: let’s try. The day that I don’t have that anymore, I swear to God, I will commit suicide. That’s something I do want to communicate to the readers. Not the suicide, but the hope. What I really believe in is good people. It’s that simple. The bad ones are really crazy, totally out of their minds, and the problem is, you don’t need very many crazies to really screw things up. That’s what gives them their power. But there are more of us, I think.”  Digest that for a little while. Here’s a link to the interview:

Interview with Marjane Satrapi

“Marjane Satrapi.”  The Believer. (August 2006).  Int.  Joshuah Bearman.


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