Saturday, January 26, 2008

Iranian Rhapsody

I used to kind of like Marjane Satrapi, the creator of the cartoon Iranian memoir Persepolis. But no more. Now I'm pretty sure it's love.

One thing she said is especially after my own heart.
Satrapi bristles at a frequent characterization of her work: "I hate this word 'graphic novel.' It is a term publishing houses have created for the bourgeois so they wouldn't be ashamed of buying comics. . . . I'm not a graphic novelist. I am a cartoonist and I make comics and I am very happy about it. I never wanted to make a graphic novel. As soon as you become a 'writer,' you have to be intelligent all the time. . . . I like the fact that I have the right once in a while to say silly things."

Rock on! Even worse than "graphic novel"--which is at least descriptive of length--is when comics creators insist on their work being called "graphic literature." Some creators, and even more sympathetic but clueless critics, are convinced that what the form needs is to be taken seriously as art, like Stendahl and Brahms. Ask yourself how many people read Stendahl or listen to Brahms, and you see the flaw in this plan.

Artistic seriousness may be a virtue, but it's not a selling point. Not that it always runs deep enought to be a virtue either, but that's another story. But the fact is that Shakespeare gains in appeal when kids learn that by studying him they can act out horny gang kids and witch-blessed assassins.

To de-digress, Satrapi is best known for her work on a "serious" subject. So it tickles me that she matter-of-factly describes herself as a cartoonist. It implies that if some sydicate wants to bring back the Little Lulu strip, Satrapi just might be their girl.

She apparently is able to hold up both ends of a conversation, which is good for when a fella is feeling pensive. Plus, a Middle Eastern woman you can drink with? Hey, MS, you seeing anyone?

At the very least I'd like to see her take on "Little Lulu."

No comments: