The Art of Persepolis

Throughout the last week or so of ASTU, we have been discussing the content and analysis of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi along with other academic journals regarding the graphic narrative as well. Although the main focus is usually the content and message of the comic, the art that goes along with the story creates a new element to the literature. And I, being the art lover I am, wanted to dive more into the art and illustration behind Persepolis.

Hillary Chute, author of “The Texture of Retracing in Marjane Satrai’s ‘Persepolis'” writes “I am interested in the notion of ethics as it applies to the autobiographical graphic narrative: what does it mean for an author to literally reappear– in the form of a legible, drawn body on the page– at the site of her inscriptional effacement? (93).” Throughout her academic journal, Chute explains the establishment and deestablishment of Marji in each of the frames, as well as an indication of how being able to visually see the story  creates a complex autographical fabric (Chute 2008, 96). The way which Satrapi illustrated her narrative creates a whole new element to the literature and “while many of the backgrounds of panels are square, a significant number of them are entirely black. The visual emptiness of the simple, ungraded blackness in the frames shows not the scarcity of memory, but rather its thickness, its depth; the “vacancy” represents the practice of memory, for the author and possibly the reader.

In Persepolis, page 70 is a complete turning point in the book. Marji’s life falls to pieces as she finds out her Uncle Anoosh has been executed and she looses her faith in God, after wanting to be a prophet for years.  Obviously, her whole idea of the future and what she believed in was shattered instantly and Satrapi couldn’t have depicted her thoughts in any better way than the single frame from page 71.

Here, along with many other cases were drawn with just a frame full of darkness but it’s the lack of imagery that shows so much more. The black frames and the emptiness show not only the scarcity of memory, but rather it’s depth (Chute 2008, 98) Not only does the dark and powerful frame affect the story but from page 71 to 72, Marji’s character changes completely which seemed to go unnoticed between many of my fellow classmates and that seemed like the most important visual of all, Marji growing up and taking a stand for herself.


1 Thought.

  1. I enjoy the way you focus on the stylistic choices in the illustration of Satrapi’s work, instead of only focusing on its literary features. Especially the way she uses darkness, as well as shading in general, in ‘Persepolis’ to display the state of mind or the mood Marji is in, is fascinating and shows how much of an effect the background illustration can have on the perception of the audience. Also, what strikes me is that, as you have mentioned, black isn’t supposed to symbolize the absence of all emotion, but the ever-existing presence of it, as it gives these scenes a certain sense of ambiguity.

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