PERSEPOLIS is an animated film about growing up in Iran during the Iran/Iraq War, with the original story told in a two-part graphic novel by artist Marjane Satrapi,. The story is an autobiographical account of the author’s life, from her point of view as a precocious, spirited nine year old. Recently making the jump from the page to screen, the film is earning Satrapi a lot of praise. PERSEPOLIS was originally published as four novels in France but the American publication has combined it into two novels: Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood (Pantheon, 2003, English version) and Persepolis 2: the Story of a Return (Pantheon, 2004, English version). The story follows Marjane and her family through the turmoil of the Islamic Revolution, as fundamentalists are taking power over the country, forcing woman to wear veils and imprisoning thousands. Through the ordeal, Marjane keeps her spirits up with contraband punk rock and pop music, and a decision is made to send her to school in Austria for her safety. Marjane eventually returns to Iran, out of her desire to be close to her family. She dons the veil, a symbol of oppression for Iranian women, and attempts to lead a normal life in a society torn apart by a revolution. Eventually though, Marjane realizes that it’s too difficult to stay in Iran and moves to Paris. PERSEPOLIS is both an award winning film and graphic novel. The film has earned several honors, including the Official Selection 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, the Official Selection 2007 Telluride Film Festival, the Official Closing Night Selection 2007 New York Film Festival, and the Official French Selection for the 2007 Best Foreign Language Film. The graphic novel has earned the Angoulême International Comics Festival Prize for Scenario in Angouleme, France, for its script, and in Vitoria, Spain, for its commitment against totalitarianism. It has been translated into English, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Swedish and other languages. Graphic novels are being associated less and less with super heroes and comic strips, and are slowly making their way into the literary market as thought provoking, intricate stories. Artists like Satrapi are being taken seriously by the literary world. Using the graphic novel as her medium, Satrapi tells a story that’s both eye opening and easy to relate to. “I believe that an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists,” Satrapi says. “I also don’t want those Iranians who lost their lives in prisons defending freedom, who died in the war against Iraq, who suffered under various repressive regimes, or who were forced to leave their families and flee their homeland to be forgotten.”
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American Elf Volume 1: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries Of James Kochalka by James Kochalka: American Elf follows Kochalka’s life from 1998 to 2001 using daily four box comic strips. Each strip captures one small moment from his day, slowly drawing you into his life and the dynamics of his small family. The strip is also published daily online at www.americanelf.com.
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The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman: Maus is a deeply moving novel about the Holocaust, in which Nazis are represented by cats, and the Jews by mice. The story is a biographical account of Spiegleman’s father’s personal experience, and beyond that, it delves into their deeply conflicted father/son relationship. Maus is the first graphic novel to ever win a Pulitzer Prize Special Award.