Sunday, August 14, 2011

An Illustrated Life

For Friday, August 12, 2011

I finished Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis today. The memoir of growing up in revolutionary Iran, Marjane’s early years are presented as an artistic graphic novel or comic book. New to these kinds of books, I found Persepolis incredibly effective in inviting the reader to see the remarkable events that Ms. Satrapi experienced.

As I read the story, I sadly thought of how infrequently we think of the hardships endured by those in countries where war rages or where a simple walk down the street can prove to be a dangerous choice. The book shares the author’s talks with her most open and honest parents, her time away from her family while in Vienna during her turbulent adolescence, her bittersweet homecoming, and of her young adult life and ultimate decision to move away from her homeland.

The comic strips are amazingly descriptive and share the emotions, the humor, and the darkness of Satrapi’s life journey. Reading and examining her artistry, I could not help but wish I had the same talent, to be able to sketch the various adventures of my own life (or that of others) in such vivid and gripping ways. I immediately began to think of what a challenge it’d be for me to try my hand at just five or ten comic strip frames.

And with that thought, I’ve added a new twist to my traditional fall Memoir unit at school this year. I’ll share some of Satrapi’s chapters with my students and we’ll all undertake the challenge of bringing one of our life’s stories to life through illustration. Some students will balk, others will soar. As for me? I am no artist, but I’ll do my best to save myself from embarrassment.

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