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I can't believe they belong to the same genre

TPB1988's picture

As someone who has never read Persepolis I was completely shocked once I did finish the novel. My exact words were “well, that was not what I thought it would be”. It feels idiotic to admit but before I even read a page I thought less of the graphic narrative because of the simplicity of the pictures. I assumed that because it was so popular worldwide, unlike A Game of You, that the narrative would not be difficult to follow or the topic would just follow the life of a person in a foreign country, nothing too heavy. I will NEVER make that assumption again. Persepolis was an entirely different graphic narrative than A Game of You and in turn provided a new reading experience. I loved reading A Game of You and I adored to colorful and intricate drawings. It was a simple plot with excellent illustrations that resulted in a pleasurable experience (if you love violence and fantasy of course). Reading Persepolis felt odd to me because the illustrations were so simple and lacked so much color that I did not find myself paying that much attention to them. The words on the other hand had my full attention. The contrasting reading experiences of two novels from the same genre was very interesting for me. I felt that Persepolis had to have simple black and white pictures if it's content was going to be so complicated. So many wars and so many revolutions would not have gone well with the type of illustrations that were used in A Game of You. At the same time if the illustrations were so detailed the graphic narrative would have been overwhelming. It is different to see a fiction character die rather than seeing actual people being massacred in extreme detail. This leads me to believe that the correlation between the pictures and the text is much stronger than it is usually given credit for. Balance is crucial for a good graphic narrative. I thought the graphic narrative medium provided an accessible way to learn history  in a way that a novel could not. Overall I did not really enjoy Persepolis although I am glad we read it.


xhan's picture

 I also found that Persepolis

 I also found that Persepolis and A Game of You to be very different. While I was often confused and frustrated while reading A Game of You(I constantly had to go back and reread text because I found myself frequently reading out of order), I found that I was much better able to follow Persepolis, and thus was able to get alot more out of the text than A Game Of You.  I was also a little disappointed initially when I saw how "bland" the images was in Persepolis. Although the images of A Game of You were often highly graphic, to the point that it was disturbing, I liked that it was in color! This is just a personal preference, but because Persepolis was in black and white, this could have had a psychological impact on me, inwhich I thought the story of Persepolis to be simple, bland and uninteresting. 

But now that I look back, I find the opposite to be true. The simplicity, and emphasis on 'basic" features, contrasts sharply with the complexity of the plot, as well as Iran's everchanging social, political, and religious structures. This story of insurmountable struggle, oppression, and journey of self-discovery is one that usually captivates my attention. However, I do feel, that once again, the images may have detracted rather than enhanced my reading experience. Yet, I'm starting to recognize that maybe these simply black and white cartoons really do justice to this story, having colorful fanciful images would actually cheapen the book of it's worth...just a thought.

Anyhow, I also learned that I need to be open-minded when it comes to reading. I cant always dictate what I want in a book upon a book. Instead of allowing a book to reveal itself to me, I project my preconceived notions, which prevents me from being open to what the present novel has to offer. Being open-minded can be difficult, especially when it comes to reading material of a format that I am not familiar with, but I think that it is important to keep moving forward, and not neglect great-reads because of my ignorance


nk0825's picture

I agree

I'll also admit that when I first paged through Persepolis I was a bit....disappointed? I'm not sure if that's the right word, but I was definitely expecting something different. I found that I had a similar problem to you TPB1988, the images in A Game of You were so detailed that it distracted me from the simple text, while the images in Persepolis were so SIMPLE that I found it hard to relate them to the detailed and complicated text.

Both Gaiman and Satrapi give us two distinct tastes of graphic novels. To be honest, I'm not sure I really like either! I respect the art and the stories individually, however I was equally frustrated by both. With A Game of You, I wanted more text, more depth. I craved more than the plot gave me, while in Persepolis I wanted the plot to simplify! I was overwhelmed by the amount of text, the serious material, and ultimately the idea of a memoir in the form of a graphic novel. I hate to admit it but I feel as if Persepolis would have been a much more intriguing read if it had been text only. I'm not sure why I feel this way...maybe it was because I felt unable to process everything I needed to while reading: images+text=confusion (at points). It could also be that I felt the text lacked fluidity. 

I also found it interesting to question the commonalities between the two. Both graphic novels dealt with death, destruction, violence, etc....yet one was jumping from reality to dreamland while the other was grounded by the realness of history. While Gaiman had the complete freedom to create his own world Satrapi utilized her experiences. Does the different style of reality versus dreamland relate to the pictures of the novel? In reality is it more pleasing to see simple images explaining nuanced and complicated scenarios because it makes the issues at hand appear more simple? In the same way, do authors like Gaiman who create alternate worlds feel the need to make the images more detailed so they appear more real? I'd be interested in further looking into if graphic novelists seek artists in order to please their audiences, as bloggers sometimes do? 

This graphic novel crash course has been enlightening. It has tought me to not judge a book based on its images  and has forced a patience upon me that I have never had to utilize. Learning to relate and absorb images and words at the same time has been extremely difficult but ultimately this experience has forced me to become a more cultured reader. 

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