Tag Archive for marjane satrapi

The D.C. Area Comics Scene for May 10

News, interviews and reviews:

Debuts and new issues:

  • Bamn: Rob’s Adventure — free digital comic by Jay Payne (artist) and Troy-Jeffrey Allen (writer)
  • Cartoon Picayune #3 — anthology edited by Josh Kramer. It is currently available online and should be in Politics & Prose and SMASH! soon.
  • Starseed — ongoing webcomic that updates Tuesdays and Thursdays by Sarah P. (artist) and R.M. Rhodes (writer).

Upcoming releases:

Events:

  • Ongoing until June 17: “Life Unreal: Art by Evan Keeling and Scott White,” Northside Social, Arlington, Va. Artist reception is May 26 from 7 to 9 p.m.
  • May 11: Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick, creators of Feynman appearance, 6:30 p.m. at American Institute of Physics, College Park, Md. Free and open to the public.
  • May 12-13: Curls Studio (Carolyn Belefski and Joe Carabeo) at Asbury Park Comic Con, Asbury, N.J.
  • May 12-13: Rafer Roberts at Asbury Park Comic Con, Asbury, N.J.
  • May 12: Full Sanction (Rusty Rowley and Joe Mochove) at Winston-Salem Toy and Comic Book Show, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, Winston-Salem, N.C. Admission is $2 and children younger than 12 are free. Presented by Ssalefish Comics.
  • May 18-June 23: Christiann MacAuley (artist profile) at Artomatic, Arlington, Va.
  • May 19: Super Art Fest 2012, noon to midnight, Metro Gallery, Baltimore, Md. Benefit for Ulman Cancer Fund. More information on Facebook or at Super Art Fight.
  • May 24: Henry & Glenn Forever #1 release party with Ton Neely and Ed Luce, 7 p.m. at Atomic Books, Baltimore, Md.
  • Beginning June 7: “Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women” at the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery, Jewish Community Center, Washington, D.C. More details to come.

Have comic news or events related to the D.C. area to share? Email me! Submit no later than Wednesday at 9 p.m. for inclusion each Thursday, but the earlier, the better! More information is here.

Marjane Satrapi in interview at Lisner Auditorium

You know Marjane Satrapi as the creator behind her autobiographical comic, Persepolis, about growing up during and after the Iranian Revolution. You may also know her from her other comic works, Embroideries, and Chicken With Plums. If you know more about her, you also know of her work as an illustrator and filmmaker.

What you may not know is that she’s an absolute delight to hear speak, as a diverse (and, I’d like to point out, mostly female) audience at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium last Friday found out. Satrapi, stylishly dressed with adorable wedge shoes (look, I was sitting close enough to notice, OK?) and bright lipstick, was relaxed and animated throughout.

On paper, two women sitting on a stage talking shouldn’t be this entertaining, even if the two women are Satrapi and Iranian author Azar Nafisi. But if anything, the 90-minute interview felt a bit too short. Satrapi can talk, but everything she says is charming, insightful and hilarious.

If there was one theme of the conversation, it was Satrapi’s insistence that people be true to themselves. Far from being a message of “peace and love” (Satrapi laughed about that later, saying she knew that’s what she sounded like she was advocating), her stance was presented as more of a challenge. Prompted by Nafisi, who brought up that Stephen Colbert called her “dangerous,”, Satrapi said that the truth is always subversive and she doesn’t think Persepolis is a particularly mysterious story. It was just “her voice against those voices” — of the Iranian regime, certainly, but also those who think that’s all there is to Iran.

Satrapi then launched into an entertaining rant about how so many people have abandoned pleasure. “Fear makes us stupid” she said, and she’d rather enjoy life while she’s living. So many people, she said, spend all this time taking care of themselves — not drinking, smoking, eating or having sex — when they’re going to die just the same as she is.

She recounted that when she decided to become an artist, it was because she couldn’t think of anything else she wanted to do more. She mentioned with dismay that art students ask her at what point she started making money. It was never about that for her and she doesn’t think it should be about that now.

Nafisi asked about how Persepolis got made, and Satrapi said she didn’t want to do it at first but only relented because she was given money to have a “new experience.” She did say she tried everything she could to get out of it — she wanted to be animated, in black and white, in French — and the producers, to her surprise, said yes to everything. She knew she wanted to be animated because it made it more universal. It was about her experiences growing up, yes, but animation made it more abstract and easier for everyone to related to than if it had been live-action.

Her experiences making Chicken with Plums, though, was different. She said she had trouble getting it financed and what she wanted to do was questioned, including why she wanted it in French if it took place in Iran. She brought up to these people there are plenty of movies in English where people are playing Germans or Austrians and she really didn’t see the difference. Still, she lamented the dearth of creativity of the film industry — no one has a problem making another Transformers movie but a movie like Chinatown, which is one of her favorites, would never be made today.

Asked by Nafisi about her views on the Internet got some laughs since Satrapi said she’s “technologically inept” and she can’t even type. She’s not interested in the Internet and made some good points — out of your 500 Facebook friends who “of these people would come cook you chicken soup when you’re sick?” She said she dislikes that the Internet makes the world a small village and that everyone knows what you’re doing all the time. She said she’d rather live in a “big city.”

Satrapi also joked about how only men should take women’s studies and that she was always confused that women were expected to be modest as to not tempt men. “Where’s the men modesty?” she asked.

As they typical are, the audience questions were a mixed bag, but I liked the woman who asked about the relationship between truth and creativity. Satrapi said that everyone remembers things different and truth is not reality. She also thinks it’s OK to cheat for the sake of the story, recounting that one event in Persepolis that happened when she was 14 in the book actually happened when she was 18. It worked better for the story she was trying to tell at the earlier time.

The last few questions were related, mostly about the power of individual voices. Satrapi said she doesn’t consider herself a spokesperson for Iranian immigrants because she doesn’t want that responsibility — she said it’s hard enough for her to be responsible for herself.

Satrapi said she’s not inclined to trust governments because politics aren’t going to change the world. Instead, she said “all the changes in the world was started with words.” And if there was one summary of everything she said Friday night, that having your own opinions and ideas is “not to be rebellious. It’s just to use the brain.”

And then with characteristic playful charm, Satrapi concluded the evening with a goodbye and a claim she really needed a cigarette.

-

(Lisner did not allow photos so I respected that, which is why there are none. And as thanks to the people who made this possible for me, you should shop at Big Planet Comics — especially U Street and Bethesda, but shop at them all! — and read the webcomic Sam & Lilah.)

Review: Graphic Women


Graphic Women

Buy at Amazon.com

Hilary Chute’s Graphic Women (2010, Columbia University Press) isn’t necessarily the sort of book you read for fun (unless you are the sort who reads these sorts of books for fun) It’s dense and academic and intended for that audience.

But it’s amazingly in-depth, smart, engaging and important. It’s not light reading but it’s far from boring.

Chute devotes a chapter each to Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Phoebe Gloeckner, Lynda Barry, Marjane Satrapi and Alison Bechdel. These five creators cover a fairly broad range in terms of style, certainly, but Chute’s focus is more what they have in common — all tend to interpret the trauma of their lives in a graphic narrative format (not that I’d expect anything less, but I do applaud Chute for not referring to these books as “graphic novels” because they’re not).

While Satrapi and Bechdel are fairly well-known, even outside of comics, I think Gloeckner and Barry are two important creators and I love their inclusion here. Kominsky-Crumb’s work isn’t exactly to my tastes, but her influence is obvious.

If you’re familiar with these creators’ works, much of this book may be obvious to you, but Chute’s insights and interpretations are always smart. She never over-explains her subject matter and mostly she lets the work speak for itself (many images from these creator’s comics are included) and just adds context.

Still, if you’re picking it up for a pleasure read like I did, it can be slow going. The more interesting chapters for me where on the creators I was less familiar with because I felt like I got more out of them. I already felt like I knew about Satrapi and Persepolis so I admit to skimming portions of that chapter. I don’t think that’s a reflection on Chute’s writing or research — both of which are excellent — but more that the nature of this book not quite being suited to leisure-time reading.

I guess my feelings about this book comes down to these things: Is Graphic Women a great book to read on a Sunday afternoon? Maybe not, but that depends on what you do on your Sunday afternoons. Is it incredibly cool that this book exists? Yes. Am I happy that I read it? Absolutely. I hope it makes its way onto all kinds of bookshelves — even if it’s more suited ones in a university library rather than at home.

Review copy provided through NetGalley.

Book of the Month: Persepolis


The Complete Persepolis

Buy at Amazon.com

Part of my motivation with this whole “Book of the Month” thing, as I explained, was to highlight female creators who may be overlooked or under-appreciated.

So why am I picking Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis? After all, you’ve probably read it. Your friend who knows nothing or cares nothing about comics has probably read it. Your mom (and no, that’s not a joke) has probably read it, or you’re thinking about giving it to her (I’m weird, but I do think it would make an excellent Mother’s Day gift).

And that’s actually why the book is pretty amazing to me. Like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, this is a comic that has managed to cross a lot of boundaries. It got attention from people who weren’t quite sure what to do with comics.

Also, it’s really good. Satrapi is cooler and smarter than just about anyone else (seriously — read interviews with her — she’s amazing) and her wit and honesty sparkles here. Her bold, graphic art is a perfect backdrop for her story, which is at turns funny and tragic. At its core, it’s about growing up and becoming a woman while never ignoring the realities of her life.

But I guess this isn’t so much a suggestion for you (because you’ve already read this, right?) as much as it is a suggestion for you to go suggest it to someone else who isn’t into comics. I think this work is one of the few that’s a perfect showcase of what this medium can do and do well.

(I was serious about that Mother’s Day thing.)