Before reading Persepolis, I don’t think I ever fully understood what the Iranian Revolution was all about. Growing up in the United States, I knew that we were fighting a distant war in the Middle East although I never knew its purpose. This all changed with 9/11 and the bombings of the World Trade Center. All eyes turned all of a sudden back to the Middle East, and they were all branded as terrorists. I, like most other people I knew, became frightened of Middle Eastern people and feared that anyone we met could be terrorists.
Persepolis and Marjane Satrapi’s story opened my eyes about how those in the Middle East were actually like. They aren’t terrorists; they are simply just normal people trying to adjust to laws set by their increasingly oppressive government. Instead, those that tried to dictate their people’s every action in the name of the martyrs who died, God, and their country were usually the ones that were terrorists and committed acts of terrorism.
The concept of martyrs, in particular, interested me. A martyr is someone who is killed because of his or her religious or other beliefs. Before reading this book, I considered martyrs as people who fought for equality and their rights such as Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., and died as a result of it. Martyrs, as described in the book, however, left me with a horrible connotation of the word. The quote that struck me regarding this topic was that “to die a martyr is to inject blood into the veins of society,” which inferred that anyone who died supporting the revolution is considered a hero. I didn’t understand why they consider martyrs in such a high degree of regard, bordering on worshipping them, in the comic. Martyrs have long been a part of the Islamic religion but to take the concept as far as to label everyone who died in a martyr is excessive in my opinion. Even long after the revolution was over and peace had finally been won, the idea of martyrs remained, becoming deeply ingrained in Iranian society; street names were renamed to honor martyrs and the topic was frequently spoken of among bearded men and other Guardians of the Revolution. I understand the significance their sacrifice had to furthering the revolution’s cause, but I believe the way those in charge promoted it to the people such as giving young boys a golden key into heaven is immoral.
As Satrapi mentioned, “freedom has a price,” which is something I believe to be true after reading this comic. In return for winning the revolution, those who were now in power forced their Islamic views on the population and continued to oppress the people just as their predecessors who they won their “freedom” from did.
Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis portrays the journey which she endured from childhood through adulthood. Through her use of the comic strip style, I was able to gain a sense of the author’s quirky humor and brutal honesty as she found ways to make me laugh through her pictures and words. Despite being against reading comics when I first started this story, I found myself enjoying the book more and more as I went on. As I progressed in the story, I understood why Satarpi chose to tell her story through this medium; it allowed her to draw out her emotions in a way that I was able to empathize with much more because I was able to see the emotion through the visuals.
Photo Credit: http://www.filmeducation.org/persepolis/
I found the second half of this story much easier to follow along and connect with because the encounters which the author faced are relevant to today’s young adult society. In the second part of this story, we are able to gain a sense of her changing perspective of the world as she matures into an adult. In the part one of her story, Satrapi’s grandma urges her to “always keep [her] dignity and be true to [herself]” because “there is nothing worse than bitterness and vengeance” (Satrapi 150). This theme is prevalent throughout the second half of the story as Satrapi struggles to find a place in society.
This idea of being an outsider is something that I have encountered throughout my life and I found it easy to relate with Satrapi on this issue. As I transitioned from elementary school to middle school, I found myself lost sometimes as my friends seemed to be moving in a different direction than I was. While I did athletics with my friends, I found my passion in the drumline, and as time passed, I found myself growing further and further from them. Satrapi also finds it hard to fit in appearance wise, an issue that many face because for most of us, there has been a time where we found something that we disliked about ourselves and wished we could change it. While her journey to find herself was much different from mine, I was able to identify with many of her feelings as she struggled to fit in. I think that her honesty throughout her story really allowed me to see her as a person and not a fictitious character.
Through her clever use of the comic book style to depict her autobiography, Satrapi really opened my eyes to the issues which Iran faced that I never really understood. While I was not able to fully understand the revolution, her story piqued my interest and has made me want to educate myself further on the matter. Her story allowed me to feel as though I was there during the revolution and helped me to visualize the situation easily. Her simple way of telling her story really allowed me to relate to her character, and I enjoyed watching her grow from the adamant little girl to the successful woman she is today.
When I think about reading a comic book, I will go my way to go against reading comic books, because I don’t quite understand comic books. You can tell that comic books are getting popular throughout the years. When I was little I would plan on getting up and go get the Saturday paper and have my mom read the comic to me, but when I got older I really couldn’t understand how to read them correctly. Until when we had to read McCloud comic about how to learn how to read comic really help me better understand how to read comic book and help me get ready to read Persepolis.
Well today I was reading Persepolis and I could actually understand what they were talking about. I loved how the autobiography was used throughout the comic book, and it made you get a look into the life of the author. The author uses a lot of pathos for example on page 6 she says on one panel “I really didn’t know what to think about the veil, deep down I was very religious but as a family we were very modern and avant-garde.” By her saying that she using that showing that her family was not that very religious, but everywhere around her there was religion. I am so glad that I got to read this book, because it opens my eyes and it showed me different sides of the author life. It was easier for me to read after having reading it a second and understanding what the meaning was.
The only part that I still had problems with was that with how someone could understand the Iranian Revolution by reading a comic book. I still think someone should go read a novel book to better understand what they are talking about instead of reading of a comic book. I still could understand some parts, but I still couldn’t get the whole picture of the revolution. By reading a novel a person could understand what is going on and could go back in many other books and figure out different things
Reading all this material about comics has really got me thinking about them and realizing how popular they are becoming. When I hear the word “comic,” I think of stories about superheroes saving the world or Saturday morning funnies. Growing up, I only read newspaper comics on occasion so I have never really gotten into them. I did glance through a comic book once, but gave up when I found the panels hard to follow. McCloud’s graphic novel about comics really opened my eyes on how comics are written and how to understand them. His description of the space between each panel, the gutter, as where the story really comes to life makes so much sense. It is the reader’s responsibility to embellish the story in their own way which is something that cannot be done with a regular written book.
Persepolis was a lot different than my other comic book experiences. The written text seemed to be the primary aspect of the book with the pictures to support it. Also, Marjane’s thoughts or the background information for a specific panel appeared frequently at the top or bottom of the panel, but obviously separate from the action within it. The pictures were very supportive of the story; they described the words and gave the story a vividness that written stories do not have.
I discovered a few things while reading Persepolis that I found interesting. It seemed harder for me to retain the information from the graphic novel rather than a written book. While the outline of the story remained, I forgot the finer details and mixed the images and events up in my mind. Another observation is that written novels spend a lot of time developing their characters and scenes, whereas graphic novels don’t. Comics focus on the plot development because they use pictures to show readers the characters and scenes. I enjoy both comics and regular books, but I think my preference is a written book since I can comprehend it better.
Before I began reading Persepolis I needed to look up what Persepolis meant and found that Persepolis is a city in Persia, which is now known as Iran. Knowing the title of the book it was safe to assume that this was going to be about Iran. I then read the inside cover and discovered the author, Marjane Satrapi, wrote this as an autobiographical comic about what it was like to grow up during the Iranian Revolution. As I was reading this comic I couldn’t help but admire how an autobiography was written in comic form. The use of drawings really helped understand the feeling of not only what the author was experiencing but also what other people she knew were feeling by the use of expression in her drawings. If this was written in novel form you couldn’t fully imagine the expressions and feelings of the characters.
While reading her comic, I was surprised at how much I didn’t know about the Iranian Revolution. Of course I only knew what I was told from the American’s point of view but I didn’t know what it was like for the Iranians. Her comic shows what both sides felt of the Revolution after the Shah left. Marjane is influenced by the thoughts of her family, and also by what her friend’s parents say. As a little girl she is conflicted by the changes in her society and her culture and it affected her childhood. As a religious family she would always turn to God and believed she is a Prophet, in fact, she says, “At age six I was already sure I was the last Prophet. This was a few years before the Revolution” (6). As her story continues she meets her Uncle Anoosh and becomes enamored by him and his stories. As the revolution continues she finds out that he was found by the police and executed. She becomes angry at God and tells him to get out of her life and then says, “And so I was lost, without any bearings… What could be worse than that?” then at the bottom of the page it says, “It was the beginning of the war” (71). The use of words and images really won me over with sympathy. Her childhood was lost as soon as the war began.
Satrapi, Marjane. The Complete Persepolis. United States Of America: Pantheon Books, 2004. 6-71. Print.
Comic books can range in a variety of ways. They tell stories with pictures rather than words. Whether it be for educational purposes, enjoying a comic on your down time, or to relive someone else’s experience, you are really getting a good idea of what is actually going on rather than imagining whats going on in as if you’re reading a novel. Graphic novels can be extremely satisfying; seeing the picture is much easier on the brain then straining through a book that perhaps you wouldn’t ever want to read. All comics have a unique language, and style. No two comics are the same.
I strongly agree with Spiegelman as he defines comics in a recent talk as “a medium using words and pictures for reproduction” (768). He thought to himself that if a single picture could creative a narrative, why not incorporate that into a novel, but instead of using text, replace them with pictures and tell a unique story only using images.
“A Harlot’s Progress”, perhaps one of the first ‘picture stories’ known to man, was a “sequential pictorial narrative” (769). Hogarth used paintings in sequence to express his ideas across the page, instead of using text. Later on In the mid nineteenth century, an author by the name of Rodolphe Töpffer established the use of comics with word and text, calling his work a “picture story.”
Comics are being used all around the globe, more and more each day. They have been popularized by famous cartoons such as batman and superman, and by newspapers all over the world. It just goes along with our more simplistic lifestyle. Why read a book when you can read a “picture story” and pick up the same ideas, if not more? Imagine reading through the entire series of superman comics in one long, boring book. You wouldn’t even know what superman looked like besides what the book revealed to you. In comics, you get a fuller, more idealistic point of view of what you’re reading about.
Comics have changed the way we view the many languages of reading. Not only have comics made reading more fun, but they give you a better idea of what you’re reading about, rather than just using your imagination throughout the book.
Image source: http://www.moviefanfare.com/superman-the-columbia-serials/
We all agree to with the old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”. One might be able to look at an image and figure out exactly what that image is trying to portray. Graphic Narrative is a great example of this, I mean think about it how many times have you decided to read a book or magazine and before you start to read the chapter you skim though the pages and look at the images. One can definitely tell whether or not they will enjoy the book or magazine though just looking at the images. I found the article “Hillary Chute and Marianne DeKoven” to be very interesting for not only did it focus on why Graphic Narrative is important but it gave good examples to why others feel that’s it’s not as important. The reason to why Graphic Narrative is so important is because it “calls the reader’s attention visually and spatially to act, process and duration of interruption”. I find that to be very true because we are able to process a visual picture of what we are reading about.
Most people would be able to tell the difference between a comic book and a novel. Not that either of them is more superior to the other, they both unique in their own ways. Having growing up in a different country I didn’t know much about Comic books till I moved to the United States. I read them a lot all though high school but not as much now. The reason I loved comic books is because I was always able to visualize what I was reading about. That really helped me learn new English words considering the fact that English is not my first language. That’s why I honestly believe graphic Narrative should be used more in academic systems. The Maus book is probably another great example to why graphic Narrative should be used more in academic systems for it was based on something that we all know about and most of us learn about the Holocaust in history class. This book is also translated in twenty languages which I find amazing. Some people might argue that some images are just way too dramatic to be shown which I totally understand but I honestly feel like each time we see a horrifying image we as human beings are more motivated to do something about it. To be clear that does not occur to each and every single person for we are all different. Donald Rumsfeld stated that “Words don’t do it “You read it and it’s one thing. You see the photos and you cannot help but be outraged”. I have to agree with that statement seeing images definitely plays a huge role in the emotions we feel after or how we view the situation after. So therefore comic’s books should be used more in academic programs they help us have a better visual of the actual content we are reading.