The comic book medium has evolved through a plethora of era. From the Golden Age (1938-1956), introducing readers to the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman and Captain America; to the Modern Age (1985-present), where psychologically-complex characters, the rise of the anti-hero and intricate plots rule the comic landscape.
With the evolution of comic books comes the inclusion of rich and nuanced tales of character’s lives reflecting our own.
This last-in-the-series dive into multiculturalism and cross-culture in comic books focuses on Persepolis. See part two of the series here.
Persepolis is a graphic autobiography created by Marjane Satrapi, depicting life in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution through the eyes of Marji, the 10-year-old protagonist.
Marjane chronicles her experiences through Marji as she navigates the horrors of war and religious extremism on Iranian women to the freedom of boarding school with her liberal family.
A coming-of-age story set in a time and place where many Westerners know little to nothing. Marji lives in an upper-middle class liberal family, exposing herself to plenty of educational material that taught her about Western political thought.
Through her young education, Marji recognizes her class privilege while tackling her own family’s political background.
But war waits for no one. As the fighting on the battlefield intensifies, Marji must deal with the very real threat of long-range ballistic missiles hitting her neighborhood, the death of her young friends and the fear of dying young.
The second issue of this series shows Marji and her family departing to Europe in search of better lives. Starting a new life in boarding school, Marjie struggles to assimilate into the new culture with her lack of knowledge on German language, and the xenophobia that plagues her at school.
Author Spotlight: Marjane Satrapi
Growing up in Tehran to a middle-class Iranian family, Marjane Satrapi is an Iranian-French graphic novelist and illustrator.
Her parents were politically active and supported Marxist causes to rebel against the monarchy of the Shah. When the 1979 Iranian Revolution took place, Muslim fundamentalists who took power after the Iranian Revolution and oppressed her and her family.
The enemy of democracy isn’t one person. The enemy of democracy is patriarchal cultures. As with the family, where the father of the family decides and has the last word, so a dictator is the father of the nation.Marjane Satrapi for Vogue.
One of Marjane’s biggest impacts on her life is her paternal uncle, Anoosh.
Anoosh had lived a portion of his life as a political prisoner, exiled to Soviet Union for some time. As a youth, Marjane greatly admired her uncle. Once Anoosh returned to Iran, he was subsequently arrested and sentenced to death.
Growing concerned for her family’s safety, Marjane’s parents arranged for her to study abroad to live with a family friend. She stayed in Vienna, Austria, and attended the Lycée Français de Vienne.
Marjane eventually returned to Iran to study visual communication, earning a master’s degree from Islamic Azad University in Tehran.
Now a graphic novelist and cartoonist, Marjane Satrapi lives in Paris with her husband, Mattias Ripa. She has become famous worldwide through her critically acclaimed autobiographical graphic novel series Persepolis, selling more than 2 million copies.
Persepolis was adapted into a 2007 adult animated film based on Satrapi’s written work.
If you would like to see the other comic books, characters and authors in this series, here are parts one and two.