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Marjane Satrapi


The Persepolis books (I & II) are more than the life of an Iranian girl told in comic form; they're also the story of an artist finding her self in a globalized society. Marjane Satrapi saw the worst of the Islamic revolution as a child, and eventually her parents sent her to convent school in Vienna to escape. But from the brittle moralisms of the nuns to the ban on nude models in art classes, Marjane makes it more than apparent that the West doles out more than its share of senseless, self-serving rules and regulations.

       Seeing Marjane negotiate this terrain is more dramatic than just reading about it. Her characterizations are always clear but never cliched and her break neck narrative style (growing 2 feet in three small frames) depends on pictures for clarity. Most importantly we are watching the artist learn how to become an artist, looking at the development not only of a singular spirit but also of a globalized sensibility. Satrapi owes as much to Iranian storytelling as she does to Western comics, and it's no surprise that her books (like most comics) are easily translated and easier to digest in multiple languages.

       If Satrapi's form travels well, her narrative travels even better. Frame by frame, page by page, Satrapi struggles first to do what she wants and then just to survive. Between the crummy boyfriend and the marijuana smoke, the informers and the morality police, a self takes shape, east and west, north and south. Satrapi's story is the narrative of our time, of young people caught between innocence and the hate machines we know as political structures. A portrait of the artist without borders, Persepolis II ends up being less about Islam or the war on terror than about what it takes to be truly free no matter when or where.

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