The Chicago Public School district has issued an ambiguous statement regarding the present and future availability of Marjane Satrapi’s PERSEPOLIS to students. PERSEPOLIS is a coming of age memoir about a girl in her early teens. The book has been read and taught in school districts across the country, without caveat or condition. In addition, Marjane has met with students across the country, including students in Chicago. The fact that Chicago is trying to limit this book’s use in classrooms and curriculums, suggesting teachers need guidance before they can discuss it, smacks of censorship.
“Chicken with Plums is as much about culture as about love and family. To be true artists, the film muses, perhaps violinists — and graphic novelists — need the national equivalent of a room of their own.”
Satrapi knows about loss. She’s had to let go of an important part of her past: she hasn’t been back to Iran in 13 years. “Of course, I’m allowed to go,” she says. “But I’m not sure [that] if I go, I can come back again. This is the problem. Would you go back somewhere if you thought there was a 99 percent chance of jail?” To re-create her childhood home, she had to rely on a Berlin soundstage. She made sure every detail was as realistic as possible, right down to the grayish-yellow bricks she remembers from her grandmother’s Tehran estate. “Tehran is quite a Western city,” she says. “People asked me, why didn’t you shoot in Morocco? It’s because Morocco doesn’t look like Tehran one bit—that’s why!”
Before Harvey Pekar self-published American Splendor in 1976, there were no publicly distributed memoir comic books. Sure, people doodled in their journals or sketchbooks, and some super-hero artists/writers included themselves in their fantastic stories, but before American Splendor, comix were synonymous with fiction and fantasy.
This book helped pave the way for some of our favorite graphic novels like Maus and Persepolis!