A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolis is the first graphic narrative I have ever read. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go until I finally sat down and opened that thing up. The first element that catches my eye are the pictures. Pictures? Yep, for those who do not know what a graphic narrative is, it is basically a story told through comics.

That’s where I would like to turn my focus towards, the images. We have all read, at least I hope so at this point, a novel. We know that, depending on the author, the book can feel like it drags on for weeks even though it might take you 3 days to finish. The Complete Persepolis was the complete opposite for me. As soon as I opened up the book I was entranced by the way the pictures helped to portray the message the author was going for. I’m bold enough to say that you could understand the basic gist of the story without the text because the pictures help so much. You can see the emotion whether it be fear, sadness, anger, or misery; It’s all right there in the comic.

However, there are more to these images. You can tell that each individual frame was well thought out before being drawn in the book. Satrapi alternates between black and white backgrounds depending on the message she is trying to send to the reader. The black background tends to be used the majority of the time because it is easier to pick out the text box, and you can tell that Satrapi feels like the text is more important than the picture it goes with. The white background though, tended to be used on frames that almost took up a whole page. Personally, the text was a little harder to find at first glance so I tended to search the picture for the message. It isn’t very hard to find. These images lean more toward the graphic side and Satrapi makes it abundantly clear the message her image is supposed to portray.

It may take some getting used to, but I can see myself really getting into the cross-discursive nature of graphic narratives.      

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