Monday, October 16, 2006


Picture this

Yesterday the Los Angeles Times ran my review of Marjane Satrapi's latest, Chicken With Plums. This is the first time I've reviewed a graphic novel. I have my reservations about the genre--although I've relished work by (for example) Art Spiegelman and Charles Burns, something like the recent Classics Comics adaptation of the 9/11 Report makes me wonder whether we're turning into a nation of absolute cretins. That said, the Satrapi was delightful. Here's how I began:
Cartoonists, like novelists, can be roughly divided into maximalists (who work by dogged addition) and minimalists (who work by delicate subtraction). Marjane Satrapi falls into the latter camp. Her inky little panels are marvels of simplicity, with a decorative twist derived in part from Persian miniatures, and many of her most memorable sequences are awash in basic black.

Yet it's amazing to see how much complexity and narrative cunning Satrapi crams into her seemingly artless images. In Persepolis (2003) and Persepolis 2 (2004), she pulled off a formidable bit of binocular vision, merging her childhood with the tormented history of modern Iran. There was nothing didactic about these books. They were fresh, warm, often whimsical, even as the shadow of dour fundamentalism fell over the author's middle-class existence. Nor did she lower the bar in Embroideries, published in 2005. Again, the topic was deadly serious --sexual politics, in the Middle East and elsewhere--but Satrapi approached it via a round robin of chatty (and catty) anecdotes.
You can read the rest here.

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