Friday, January 11, 2008

The Best Graphic Novel Ever

In my opinion, the best graphic novel ever made is Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. In some circles, people who talk about art differentiate between "high art" and "low art". Of course, comics gets lumped in with the low art. Admittedly, a lot of sequential art is very commercial in nature. However, if words can be Literature and images can be Art, isn't it possible that a graphic novel could be Art with a capital "A"? What is it that makes one thing Art and another thing not? Is it that something very important is being expressed?

Persepolis is the biography of Marjane Satrapi in comic strip form. Marjane was a small child growing up in Iran at the time of the Muslim Revolution in 1979. Often, those of us in the west have a stereotypical image of "those Iranians", but her story reminds us that people are people everywhere. We can't characterize everyone in a nation based on what a few extremists do who are making the news.

The first time I read this book, I was immediately captivated by the charm in her simple child-like drawings, as she told the story of the revolution from the perspective of a precocious ten-year-old. As the story progressed, I was very moved by the tragedy and horror her family experienced. I concluded that this book is a work of Art.

If you ever get a chance to read this book, I highly recommend it. (Although, I should point out, that the tragedy being described makes it a book that probably isn't for small children). They are making a big-screen movie adaptation of her graphic novels. It looks to me like the movie will be a masterpiece as well.

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