The Complete Persepolis

By Marjane Satrapi

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Telling off some European girls for making fun of Satrapi for being Iranian – p. 197

I fully believe humans have not inherently changed over the centuries. I also believe that humans are the same across cultures. I don’t mean to say that we all think the same, have the same ideals, or even want the same things, but that we are all struggling, growing, and trying to find our individual place within our cultural environment. Persepolis solidified these feelings for me. In her introduction Satrapi states, “I believe that an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists.” Satrapi, through an autobiography of growing up in Iran (and Europe) during the Iranian/Islamic Revolution (1979) and Iran-Iraq War, she shows the humans involved in their fight for freedom and her interpretations of the world as a child and teenager. I really enjoyed this perspective, as I felt it was an authentic representation of some groups of people who opposed the Islamic Revolution and found ways to quietly, or loudly, oppose the Islamic extremists.

Marjane Satrapi led an eventful life as she watched her beloved country change in basically one year and then continue to become more and more fundamentalist as she became more liberal during her teenage years and early twenties. Before the Islamic Revolution, she went to a French school in Iran. Her parents were progressive and wanted her to be well educated. After the Islamic Revolution, universities were closed for two years to “revamp” the educational system to fit Islamic ideals and women were forced to wear a head covering or risk being harassed or arrested. Anyone who did not strictly follow the new Islamic guidelines for the country were arrested, and many were killed.

Satrapi’s first major encounter with harassment regarding the veil was when her mother’s car broke down. While her mother was waiting to be picked up by her husband, two “bearded guys” (synonymous with Islamic fundamentalist men in this book) indicated that women like her (those not wearing the veil) needed to be raped and thrown in the garbage. I find this absolutely abhorrent. I cannot understand how they believe that a woman not wearing a veil should be treated like that. Though, I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised. Some men even in non-Islamic countries try to tell women how to dress, lest they “tempt the man into sin,” rather than teaching men how to respect women and their bodies. Women are always at risk of being raped, and for some reason, the Iranians believed a head scarf would better “protect” them, just like “dressing modestly” is supposed to prevent women from being raped elsewhere. Apparently, if you’re not wearing a veil or you’re not completely covered, then you’re “asking for it.”

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Watching the TV – p. 74

On the other hand, Satrapi makes an observation later in the graphic novel that makes more sense for the Islamic fundamentalists to have women wear head coverings and adhere to a nearly impossible dress code. She states, “The regime had understood that one person leaving her house while asking herself: ‘Are my trousers long enough?’ ‘Is my veil in place?’ … ‘Are they going to whip me?’ no longer asks herself: ‘Where is my freedom of thought?’ ‘Where is my freedom of speech?’ … It’s only natural! When we’re afraid, we lose all sense of analysis and reflection, our fear paralyzes us … Fear has always been the driving force behind all dictators’ repression. Showing your hair or putting on makeup logically became acts of rebellion” (302). Therefore, the Islamic Revolution, according to this graphic novel, is using the head covering as a way to strike fear into the citizens and to locate dissenters. I truly felt bad for all the progressive Iranians who lived and are living in Iran. Some try to leave, but they have to hope that the Visa will go through and they can escape.

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Advice from her beloved grandmother – p. 150

The story is divided into three main story arcs. Marjane Satrapi as a child during the Islamic Revolution, her life in Europe during a majority of the Iraq-Iran War, and her life back in Iran after she is tired of being alone in Europe. She was sent to Europe because Satrapi’s parents believed it would be better for her to be away from the new regime and the danger of war. They raised her to be educated and think independently, Iran did not really allow that freedom. In Europe, she made some friends and some enemies. Satrapi spoke her mind and did not allow others to insult her heritage, or else she would fight back. This caused her to move around a lot and have to attend multiple schools. However, her most devastating moment was when she caught her boyfriend of two years, who she had doted on and left all her friends for, cheating on her with another woman. Along with having some arguments with her landlord around this time, she leaves and becomes homeless in Europe. Eventually, she managed to go back home to Iran and her family. She loves her family, deeply. She said that her time Europe was lonely and she almost wishes she had been able to stay in Iran during the war, if only to have her family by her side. Family and friends are important to most everyone across the world. We form bonds and relationships and want to experience life beside them.

I enjoyed that this autobiography was told using a simple black and white comic style. The style of art really helped lighten some of the horrible situations that the author endured. I learned a lot about the lives of some progressive Iranian Muslims and their ability to live through all sorts of torture and discrimination. I also saw the humanity in the novel. Humans can be vicious, cruel, and heartless toward one another, but they can also show love, humility, and compassion for each other. What I got from this story is that race, religion, or any other defining label should not matter in how we relate to one another. Humans are humans and we should treat each other with kindness and respect.

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Wonder Woman Rebirth

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artists: Matthew Clark, Sean Parsons, and Liam Sharp

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This past year I started reading The Legend of Wonder Woman by Renae de Liz and fell in love. It is a 9 issue miniseries that I will review/discuss after it is complete in a couple months or so. Then, I picked up Wonder Woman Earth One by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette. It was also well written, but I thought it fell short of Renae de Liz’s narrative and artistic representation. I wondered if it had to do with Grant Morrison being a male. This assessment felt a bit unfair, but I am not well read in past Wonder Woman interpretations, so I only had these two to go by. However, after reading Rucka’s Wonder Woman Rebirth, I know was unfair to men in my initial assessment. Rucka did a fantastic job with Wonder Woman in the DC Rebirth issue.

Wonder Woman holds the Lasso of Truth, which means she exposes lies. I am hoping this implies that she will be a key player in discovering the mystery of the new DC Universe. This particular issue opens with “Something’s happening…in my memory…the story keeps changing,” and it certainly does. It begins with her mother begging the gods for a child and being granted one formed by the clay, but it continues with OR she was conceived by the union of the Queen of the Amazons and the Ruler of Olympus (Zeus) and the Queen gave birth to a child (or children?). A pattern of this legend or that legend of her origin plays out back and forth through the narrative. Wonder Woman is confused and irritated at the constant changing of reality. Overall, she wants peace. I assume because of her frustrations she uses the Lasso of Truth on herself. A mirror shatters and she seems to see things more clearly. The reader is not privy to her newfound knowledge, which is great. It adds to the suspense and the intrigue as to what may have happened to our hero in the past and what will happen to our hero in the future.

Continuing the back and forth narrative presented in Wonder Woman Rebirth, this bi-weekly series will alternate storylines “as she untangles the mysteries of her present…and her past.” I am looking forward to seeing how her storylines meld into a complete narrative in the coming weeks.

Paper Girls (issue #6)

Written by Brian K. Vaughan ; Art by Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson

Paper Girls trade paperback containing issues #1-5 is already out (was published on March 30, 2016), so go read it now! I will wait…

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I read Paper Girls as each issue was published from October 2015 to February 2016. Those first five issues contain the introductory arc of the series. It features girls who deliver paper for their town in the late 1980s. While on route at night, they encounter alien-like characters and a sentient machine. I will not go into detail, but by the very end of issue 5 we are left wondering, did these girls just travel through time?

Issue #6 picks up from the perspective of Erin Tieng on June 1, 2016. She is driving along and encounters three random girls on the road, one of which shares her name and scars. Older Erin takes it all fairly well and drives the girls to her house for their safety. I have absolutely no idea if I would take it in stride like Erin did. No, actually, I am certain I would freak out if I encountered a younger version of myself. Erin does show some concern, but she also expresses some reasons for not thinking it is the craziest thing she has ever seen in her life.

One of the best moments for me in this issue was when the girls were watching the big screen TV. They were not used to screens of that magnitude back in the 80s. The reader can see four turtles dressed like ninjas on the TV screen and the announcer says, “…four brothers who hate bullies and love this city….In theaters this Friday.” The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows comes out tomorrow! I absolutely loved this detail and accuracy of the real world within a fictional world that is collapsing and wreaking havoc upon humans.

I am excited about how strong this second arc has begun and I can’t wait to see what Brian K. Vaughan has in store for these young ladies in the future…and the past.

Joyride (issue #2)

 

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From issue #1

By Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly. Art by Marcus To.

After a strong start with issue #1, Joyride issue #2 feels a bit rushed in an attempt to round out all the plot lines that will be addressed and completed in the last two issues. On the other hand, I really enjoyed how the creators put these humans in a familiar environment (a mall) in an alien environment (outer space).

Now that our protagonists have escaped Earth, there are people who want them to return, most likely to be punished. This major plot point, introduced at the very beginning of the issue, will likely play a bigger role in issue #3. Special Interceptors are sent to retrieve any who escape Earth. And let’s just say one of Dewydd’s family members is going to be on the team to get them back…

In outer space, fearless Uma is causing havoc and the other two, Dewydd and Catrin are just trying to figure out their place in their new lives. The issue opens up with Uma stealing a treasure and running from cops in a huge alien mall. Honestly, the mall reminded me of Blue Heaven from Outlaw Star. It felt like a relaxing place for aliens from all across the universe to shop, eat, and drink. However, the large space mall in Joyride was a bit tidier, open, and full of cops (rather than outlaws). Right now, I am intrigued with Dewydd’s story. Catrin, the unfortunate Earthling who got wrapped up on this adventure, kept calling him 438. What does that mean? Why is he a number? I feel like this issue was partly for Dewydd and Catrin to determine, without a doubt, that this journey with Uma is worth taking.

There are many questions left to be answered and more adventures to unfold. I hope my posts have encouraged you to check it out now, or to at least pick it up when it comes out in graphic novel form. Overall, I enjoyed issue #2 and am eager to see what our protagonists encounter in issue #3!