Sunday, September 5, 2010

Book Stuff: An Intro to Awesome Graphic Novels

I thought I would write a series of posts about some of my favourite graphic novels that have been turned into movies, as I was inspired by the totally sweet adaptation of Scott Pilgrim that hit the theatres recently. Plus I think that the graphic novels i'll be writing about also make for an excellent introduction for the comic book-shy people out there. So if you have previously shunned comics as purely for 13 year old super nerds- check out the ones featured in the next few posts- you won't be disappointed! So without further ado, here is the first instalment:

PERSEPOLIS by Marjane Satrapi: graphic novels (2000) and the movie (2007).
What It's All About: Persepolis originally consisted of two separate novels (originally in French) called Persepolis 1: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return that have now been combined into one book. I would define Persepolis as a "thinking persons" graphic novel and a perfect starting point for someone who thinks all comics are juvenile.

Persepolis is an autobiographical account of Satrapi's childhood during the Islamic revolution in Iran and her adolescent years spent in a boarding school in Vienna. Each volume is divided into smaller sections containing a small story. From being forced to wear a veil to school (The Veil), seeing violent political demonstrations for the first time (The Trip) to typical teenage rebellion (The Vegetable), Satrapi shares many intimate details of her fascinating, if somewhat frightening, upbringing. Persepolis is wonderful because even though much of it details the radical and sometimes violent changes that were occurring in Iran, the story retains a quirky sense of humour and sense of innocence throughout. Presenting her story in a comic book format is an awesomely unique way to bring Satrapi's moving, captivating experiences to life-which definitely sets it apart from your typical by-the-numbers autobiography.

The comic itself is drawn in a simple yet distinctive black-and-white style which seems to suit the story and convey the emotions of the characters perfectly. What I especially love is that the movie is actually animated (and therefore not your typical comic turned-into-a-live-action-movie-deal) in a perfect rendition of the comic's unique illustration style.

Quote This: Marjane's Grandmother: "Listen. I don't like to preach, but here's some advice. You'll meet a lot of jerks in life. If they hurt you, remember it's because they're stupid. Don't react to their cruelty. There's nothing worse than bitterness and revenge. Keep your dignity and be true to yourself."

Reading Persepolis you get a fascinating insight into Satrapi's life with a good dose of humour and a free modern history lesson thrown in as well. Both the book and the movie are well worth a look due to their story, heart and all round general awesome-ness.