Making me perhaps the last comics reader on Earth to do so.*Â It's oneÂ of those kinds of books I leave my adventure comics comfort zone to read everyone once in awhile, but only begruddingly so; I feelÂ obligated to read it, because it's "important". That doesn't neccesarily mean I'm going to, y'know, like it, but that's irrelavent; it's a part of the growing graphic literature canon, and also extremely relevant to many very important events going on in the world.
After all, when the book was first published, Iran was still a fairly freshly minted member of the Axis of Evil, and their stature as America's new boogeyman has only grown (not without some merit, mind you. I'm trying really hard not to go too political either way here, folks). So, like Pyongyang, this is the kind of comic worth reading just because it offers a glimpse in to a culture that I'm pretty damn ignorant of but shouldn't be. What surprised the hell out of me is how damn much I liked it.**
First of all, IÂ found Marjane Satrapi a very engaging character in her own story.Â Lil' Marji was so damn cute, and her general outspokeness throughout the book gave itÂ aÂ lot of the humor that kept it from beingÂ as grim and unrelenting asÂ it could have been, being setÂ during the rise of a repressive regime and all. I'm not neccessarily a huge fan of diary comics, but I liked Satrapi enough that her narration (especially the bits where she talked to the reader) worked for me.
I also liked her artwork more than I expected to. It's very minimalist, to say the least (to use a wordÂ I see a lot in superhero circles, it's cartoony***), and in some scenes that hurts it a little; I was really kind of hoping that someone like Brian Hitch or Chris Weston could ghost the scenes of the bombings of Tehran, for instance,Â even if it would have screwed up the tone of the book and what not, because I really wanted to see some cool, lovingly rendered planes instead of the stark, inky figures Satarpi drew. But for every one of those kind of fanboy longings, I found myself struck by how she used the black and white format of the book for effect (sort of reminded me of what I've seen ofÂ David B's work, who she does thank at the end of the book). I also loved the way she could draw expressions.
This book had pretty much everything I look for in a comic, or hell, any story. It was funny, poignant, and informative, not to mention impossible to put down. If Hellboy, Scott Pilgrim,Â and She Hulk had dropped by for a cameo drawn by Mike Allred, it would have been perfect. As it is, it was a really refreshing story that was more than just important; it was actually a joy to read. I look forward to the second one, even if our own Greg Burgas did compare it to a urine coloring vegetable.Â If anyone else out there's on the fence about reading this, don't be.****
*- Now I just need to get it back to the co-worker I borrowed it from. At the place I no longer work at.
**- I wanted to work another soft curse word in there, like piss or crap, butÂ I couldn't find a way to shoehorn it in there.
***- Which make sense, seeing as how she's a goddamn cartoonist. Not unlike the Goddamn Batman.*****
****- Especially if you can borrow it from a co-worker and forget to return it for six months!
*****- Is that joke dead yet? If so, how dead? Are we talking total decomposition, or some flesh still on the bones? If I make an effort to ressurect it, does that make it a zombie? And if I keep babbling on like this, can I be cool like Abhay?