Comics as Novels?

When I would think about comics, the first thing that comes to my mind is that comics are about heroes and bad guys and made up fantasy characters, something along with Marvel Comics, DC Comics and Manga. The second thought about comics is about humor and cartoons, something along the lines of comic strips that you can find in newspaper and some comic books like Archie. It was easy to think of comics as such because of the mass influence and production Marvel Comics and DC Comics have. Very recently I discovered that there is much more to comics than action and fantasy: there is truth, anecdotes and great stories.

From someone who has never read a comic before, I must say that when reading Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi I was very impresses on how comic about a little girl (author) growing up in Iran could be so interesting. The first part, or book one, is about how she learned many things about society including norms, politics, and social classes. Satrapi’s childhood was very interesting and the book shows how she had to accept the norms set by her government and society. She was forced to wear a veil at school. teachers and other people could hurt her or more if she or other girls and women didn’t wear it. She learned about the separation of social classes. Her maid and a neighbor were having secret romance. When her maid was caught with the romance Satrapi was told that it was impossible for them to have a relationship “because in [Iran] [people] must stay within [their] own social class (37). She was so young to accept that norm but yet she was forced to accept because that was the society she was part of.

There are other great anecdotes and lesson and historic events the author had to learn and live through that makes the comic book very similar to a novel. When reading the book it felt as if I was reading a novel and not a book. The book has open my mind and to look at comics as more than action and superheroes and collecting every issue of a series. Now I know comics are more than just issues to read and collect. They could be great novels.


3 thoughts on “Comics as Novels?

  1. Over the years comics have begun to push to the forefront of popular literature as a bridge between the written and visual worlds. I agree heartily that this particular medium is interesting in its ability to educate and inform on complex topics without degrading them into cartoonish fantasies. Moreover, the ability of Persepolis to communicate with the reader on an emotional level seems to be strengthened by the inclusion of visual imagery. Unlike purely literary works, comics have a unique ability to allow the reader to connect with not only a description but a visual image of a character or scene. At least with my experience, this has a powerful effect on the reader by allowing them to see not only a scene but the perception of the author within the context of its events. I could not agree more that this work has changed my perception of comics as an effective storytelling medium and engine for social commentary.

  2. Since childhood we are constantly influenced by many things. Mostly media, and for the most part as boys violent or “cool” media. We bond over such things, formulate our opinions of the world, and even, like you said, learn lessons. Comics weren’t really a big part of my childhood either, but I have seen many peers who have turned to comics, and normal novels, for a form of help in finding their own way. The story in Persepolis is just one more comic/novel that helps some kids do that. Even for me who believes I should by now have it all figured out read the story and from it learnt that, hey it’s alright to be a little lost. That’s a lesson I’m sure I’m not the first to gain from the book, and like this there are many others. I completely agree, you made a lot of great and legitimate points.

  3. Reading comics is something I’ve always liked to do in my spare time. They are fun to read and can easily pass the time if you’re not busy, bored, or waiting on something. Like you, I never saw comics as serious as the Persepolis ones. I didn’t think that comics could be that graphic since I’ve never seen it that graphic on superhero comics. The fact the author wrote her life story and experiences as a comic is something else. It helps us as the readers see and understand what she had to live through. The fact that there’s pictures along with words is useful to the readers because we can actually see what is going on instead of wondering “I wonder what that looks like?” I agree with you on your “comics could be great novels” comment. Persepolis has everything it needs to be an amazing novel. I hope more authors lean towards the making of comics, it makes a greater impact to the reader since we can also see what the author sees.

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