Comics to Read – Persepolis

Cover of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Cover of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi. She grew up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. When things seemed to get to rough she got sent away to Europe, but eventually came back home. It was also one of the top challenged books in America in 2014.

Using a graphic novel to tell the story made it something that could cross boundaries in many ways. It is difficult to talk about a situation from another culture if you have not grown up in that situation. Visuals help to translate those cultural differences into something that can be interpreted by others. The story itself is so incredible and to see those items visually it really brings power to the story being told.

A graphic novel granted Marjane Satrapi the ability to put a face on the situation in Iran, where otherwise it could just be seen as something that is happening far away that doesn’t matter.

An Autobiography

The important thing to remember when reading Persepolis is that it is an autobiography. Someone could try and separate the story being told with the reality of the situation – but this was the real situation. One of the things that we often forget about the facts of history is that they are experienced by real people. Those people experience and view those events through the lens of their personal experience.

In Persepolis Satrapi really shows you her experience and her view on her life. She takes you from living in Iran and dealing with her world being turned upside down. Then to being the fish out of water trying to live in Europe where suddenly the culture and customs are completely different. Finally she ends up back in Iran because she wants to go – only to discover that home is a little harder to find then she thought. It gives you a unique look into a story that most people have no connection to.

Visual Storytelling

Opening panel from PersepolisThe graphic novel does a great job of giving visuals to circumstances that other cultures could not relate to. A great example of this is the very beginning of Part 1 where Satrapi is explaining about the veil. I think that other cultures have a view of what the veil is and what it means, but it is great to hear from someone who grew up in that culture. The other piece is that there is no one type of veil – there are multiple. Part of what the different types of veils tell you is about the person’s own beliefs.

It is amazing how much can be brought out of what seems like a simple piece of fabric, but there is so much more to it than you might expect. At the same time to be able visually see how the veil is represented in Iranian culture really helps to understand everyday life for Satrapi.

Heartwrenching

Marjane Satrapi’s story is not easy to hear. Persepolis gives you a look into a harrowing series of events. Panel of PersepolisShe does not shy away from talking about difficult and personal experiences in a very open and honest way. It is not about the clinical numbers that we might hear about in a history book. It is about the real people in her life who she knows and cares about.

Sometimes history can seem like just a series of numbers and the situations can be tragic, but we often distance ourselves from the real tragedy. Persepolis brings the lives of those who lived through this particular situation into focus. It is obviously only one story, but it gives a glimpse into a different life and a different world. It puts a face on the history of a nation that many of us would not know otherwise.

Advertisements

Blogging A to Z Day 20: Qun

Iron Bull, a Qunari character I have talked about on Comparative Geeks. Picture from the DragonAge Wiki

Iron Bull, a Qunari character I have talked about on Comparative Geeks.
Picture from the Dragon Age Wiki

The Qun is a concept from the Dragon Age games that “defines the role of everyone and everything in the society of the Qunari” (Dragon Age Wiki). The Qunari are not a race, but a group of anyone who follows the Qun. In the Dragon Age games, the Qun is introduced as a foreign concept to most races and often looked down upon due to its strict nature. One of the tenets of the Qun is that everyone has a place and a purpose. Meaning that your nature defines your role in society and you know that this will always be your role; it defines how you are meant to live your life. Other fictional worlds have sort of touched on the concepts presented in the Qun, but the Qun takes it to a whole other level. The Qun is more than just a way of life; it is life, it is every decision, choice, and path that you walk.

This creates some very interesting clash of cultures because most of us – as in the society of Dragon Age – believe in the idea of freedom of choice and random circumstance. In the Qun your path is chosen practically from the beginning and there is not a question of your job, life goals, etc. You follow the Qun and that is all that matters. Where most see chaos and look for hope in things such as the Chantry, the Qun sees the world functioning as a fine machine where everything works together. They find solace in the thought that everything in nature has a place in the world and that that nature determines the path you follow. Now you do have a choice, but to fight against the path that nature has defined for you is to choose suffering.

One of the more interesting ways that this conflict is played out is in Dragon Age 2. A group of Qunari end up stranded in Kirkwall after their ship crashed. The turmoil that builds due to the Qunari’s presence in the city is palpable. Some see the Qun as an affront to the dominant religious order, the Chantry, and the Qunari feel that the city suffers because there are many who do not understand their place in society and the world. Others actually want to join the Qun because they see the peace that can come from knowing one’s place with absolute certainty.

Now where this thought breaks down are with those who are raised in the Qun, but eventually show magical abilities. From a  young age you are raised for a specific purpose, but when magic awakens this interrupts this process and breaks that order. Mages and magic upsets the balance that the Qun ascribes to and therefore any who are discovered to be mages are bound, so that they cannot disrupt this order.

“Struggle is an illusion. The tide rises, the tide falls, but the sea is changeless. There is nothing to struggle against. Victory is in the Qun.”

Extract from the Qun (Dragon Age Wiki)

This post was by @CompGeeksHolly of the Comparative Geeks, where you can find other posts about Dragon Age, like this one. For more A to Z posts, check out Comparative Geeks!

Blogging A to Z Day 7: Flash

As someone who had not read too many comics I only was tangentially connected to the comic book world and therefore did not know much about the Flash, besides being the fastest man alive. When the show Flash started on the CW I got excited mostly because it was by the same people who brought us Arrow, which I love. The only thing being that I really did not know much about Barry Allen or the Flash in general.

The more I find out the more I really love the Flash as a character! A lot of what I know comes from watching the show, but I have also looked at what others have posted and watching some of the cartoon movies. The Flash really has a heart that is different from some of the other characters in the universe.

One thing I love about Barry Allen is his optimism and his passion. Now maybe this is just the show, but other things I have seen and found seem to confirm this as well. Recently we watched the animated movie Justice League: Doom, that points out the weaknesses of various DC superheroes including the Flash. The Flash’s weakness is his need to protect others; this is demonstrated in that movie and in the show. At the same time of all of the weaknesses it is the most endearing. He just wants to protect people and for those that need help he wants to help.

From a full gif-set on Tumblr.

From a full gif-set on Tumblr.

There is a great Tumblr post that I saw recently that looked at an episode of Justice League Unlimited where Batman and Orion try and help the Flash out because they disagree with how he handles his enemies. At the same time they just want to come and beat everyone up. The Flash on the other hand can take some time and is able to talk to one of the enemies. This in turn leads him to the rest of the enemies that are trying to kill him. Even getting the one enemy that he talked to to turn himself in. It really is a great moment and contrasts so much with the other superheroes.

The great part about Barry Allen is that his optimism and passion is infectious. He is too smart for his own good, but his strength is not in overpowering an enemy, but outsmarting them. Also, at times his power is the fact that he legitimately cares what happens. It is so different from other superheroes, particularly those in the DC universe. It is kind of a refreshing change of pace, especially when it is contrasted with Arrow which does get incredibly dark and serious. Flash presents a world where so many things are possible.

This post is by @CompGeeksHolly of the Comparative Geeks, where you can find other posts about Flash, like this one. For more A to Z posts, check out Comparative Geeks!