PERSEPOLIS is a collection of vignettes from the childhood of Marjane Satrapi in the years from 1975 to 1983. If you, too, are part of the generation that Coupland named, you will recognize and cringe at Satrapi's experience of adolescence in the late 70's and early 80's. You'll compare foibles and haircuts and record collections. You'll laugh. At some point, though, you will hold the book close to your chest and take a deep breath and your heart will hurt some. Though you will have fallen in love with the child Satrapi through the course of her adventures and you will have found yourself relating to her on every page, Satrapi passed those years in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution, and there are some things to which you will not want to relate.
Miraculously, PERSEPOLIS is not depressing. Though it deals with political executions, bombings, torture and what to my eyes are horrific assaults on basic human liberties, PERSEPOLIS is a collection full of hope. When Satrapi's beloved Uncle Anoosh is captured as an enemy of the State, it's not the tragedy of his fate that sticks to your bones. It's the memory of Anoosh and little Marjane sitting up all night telling stories over cups of hot chocolate that warms you. When Marjane, as a denim-clad teen, narrowly escapes detainment at the hands of "The Committee" for the egregious transgression of wearing a Michael Jackson button, it's hard not to smile. We're not making light of the whipping she likely escaped. We smile because Marjane works off her fear, guilt, angst and anger at home rockin' out to an illegal Kim Wilde cassette. We smile because rockin' out is a universal language.
In this age of the "axis of evil" and epidemic demagoguery more dangerous than SARS, PERSEPOLIS is a perspective restorative, a reminder of our shared humanity. And damn fine picture books, it turns out, are a universal language, too.
Kelly Sue DeConnick relocated from Brooklyn, New York to Kansas City, MO, where she lives with her husband and artbomb.net colleague, Matt Fraction. Kelly Sue writes the English adaptations of several manga titles published by Tokyopop and Viz. She can be found on the web at kellysue.com.