I read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi . It is an autobiographical comic book about the author’s life growing up in revolutionary Iran. Her childhood is tense and perilous. Within Iran, there is the threat of religious fundamentalists arresting and punishing people arbitrarily. Marjane’s Communist uncle is executed by the fundamentalists. Then there is the threat from outside countries. During the war with Iraq, a scud missile hits her neighbors’ house, killing her neighbors. Despite the atmosphere of fear and stifled freedom, Marjane is headstrong and not afraid to speak her mind. She attends rallies, holds illegal parties, and talks back to authority figures. In an environment where people were being severely and arbitrarily punished, I kept expecting Marjane to be punished for her rebelliousness. But she was very lucky. While her friends and acquaintances get attacked or worse, she makes it out relatively unscathed. It seemed her greatest difficulty was assimilating to a different culture during her time studying abroad, dealing with alienation and having no family support.
The art in the comic book is simple (this is no superhero comic with creative and fantastical character design). The characters, too, are simply drawn and rather indistinguishable. During the chapters about Marjane’s childhood, I often could not tell which child was her. I could not reliably tell who she was until she started drawing the mole on her face that appeared when she was an adult. The characters, going by appearances, are forgettable, but it’s their role in Marjane’s shocking stories that makes them memorable. Also, for a comic book, there was an awful lot of narration, too much telling and not enough showing. I would rather read about Batman.