* This is the second in a series of graphic novels I'll be reviewing in the month of February
Since its Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature, the graphic novel version of Persepolis has been getting a lot of attention. Using a very basic black & white style (I promise the next graphic novel has color) with an innocence reminiscent of classic Peanuts, Persepolis is the coming-of- age story of young Marjane Satrapi, told against the backdrop of constant revolution in Iran. Whether it's a national revolution against fascist regimes, or the more personal revolutions in gender and culture, Satrapi does an excellent job of capturing life in Iran over the course of two decades.
Satrapi, who wrote and illustrated the book as well as co-directed the film, is a modern protagonist that is easily identifiable to Western audiences - she loves music, dancing, and gets into the same problems many children and adolescents experience in your typical coming of age drama. The difference here is that wearing lipstick or red socks or walking arm-in-arm with someone you're not married to can mean detainment, torture, or worse. Throughout the book Marj deals with the consequences of her own rebellious actions as well as the larger actions of her country.
One of the real strengths (and themes) of Persepolis is the portrayal of the people of Iran. Satrapi wants to make sure the reader is aware that not every Iranian is comfortable with the actions of their government, and that there is a rich, intelligent and vibrant culture that refuses to be pigeon-holed in the easy cut-out stereotypes many Westerners are prone to make. In that way Persepolis serves as an education tool as well as a compelling story. A fascinating book and a recommendation to any reader interested in mixing a little global history in their comics.