I decided to pair Persepolis, the graphic novel, with Persepolis, the film in order to show similar ways of analysing different types of new media narratives.
Persepolis, the Graphic Novel by Marjane Satrapi
Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. First American ed. United States: Pantheon, 2004. Print.
Marjane Satrapi tells her autobiographical story, first in the form of a graphic novel. Satrapi’s story begins in the perspective of herself as a little girl and it continues until she is a young adult living during the Islamic War. The older young Marjane becomes, the more she becomes a fighter. At times, she is judged by the other women in her community, specifically the nuns at school. She is known as a troublemaker and rebellious, but those characteristics give her ambition and the strength of a fighter. She stands up for what is right during times of chaos and violence.
Students can analyze a graphic novel based on layout, figures, or text. ReadWriteThink.org provides a handout that defines the basic graphic novel terms.
Panel: A distinct segment of the comic, containing a combination of image and text in endless variety. Panels offer a different experience then simply reading text:
• The spatial arrangement allows an immediate juxtaposition of the present and the past.
• Unlike other visual media, transitions are instantaneous and direct but the exact timing of the reader’s experience is determined by focus and reading speed.
Frame: The lines and borders that contain the panels.
Gutter: The space between framed panels.
Bleed: An image that extends to and/or beyond the edge of the page.
Foreground: The panel closest to the viewer.
Midground: Allows centering of image by using natural resting place for vision. The artist
deliberately decides to place the image where a viewer would be most likely to look first. Placing an image off-center or near the top or bottom can be used to create visual tension but using the midground permits the artist to create a more readily accepted image.
Background: Provides additional, subtextual information for the reader.
Graphic weight: A term that describes the way some images draw the eye more than others, creating a definite focus using color and shading in various ways including:
• The use of light and dark shades; dark-toned images or high-contrast images draw the eye more than light or low-contrast images do
• A pattern or repeated series of marks
• Colors that are more brilliant or deeper than others on the page
Faces: Faces can be portrayed in different ways. Some depict an actual person, like a portrait; others are iconic, which means they are representative of an idea or a group of people. Other points to observe about faces include:
• They can be dramatic when placed against a detailed backdrop; a bright white face stands out
• They can be drawn without much expression or detail; this is called an “open blank” and it
invites the audience to imagine what the character is feeling without telling them.
Hands/Feet: The positioning of hands and feet can be used to express what is happening in the story. For example, hands that are raised with palms out suggest surprise. The wringing of hands suggests obsequiousness or discomfort. Hands over the mouth depict fear, shame, or shyness. Turned in feet may denote embarrassment, while feet with motion strokes can create the sense of panic, urgency, or speed.
Captions: These are boxes containing a variety of text elements, including scene-setting,
Speech balloons: These enclose dialogue and come from a specific speaker’s mouth; they vary in size, shape, and layout and can alternate to depict a conversation. Types of speech balloons include those holding:
• External dialogue, which is speech between characters
• Internal dialogue, which is a thought enclosed by a balloon that has a series of dots or bubbles going up to it
Special-effects lettering: This is a method of drawing attention to text; it often highlights onomatopoeia and reinforces the impact of words such as bang or wow.
As an in-class activity, students should practice analyzing the graphic novel with the appropriate terms so the teacher can determine the overall comprehension of the genre. Student’s would benefit from practicing these terms with a partner.
1. Use the graphic novel visual terms to analyze the three panels in sequence.
2. Use a graphic organizer to list an observation for at least three terms.
2. Analyze the development of theme by identifying the specific motifs and symbols.
Panel # 1
Panel # 2
Panel # 3
Marjane Satrapi speaks about her experiences with storytelling in different ways. She classifies Persepolis as her autobiography, because the events are true and then, she crafts the narrative. It is also interesting to note, she did not want to make the adapted film of Persepolis.
Questions for students viewing the interview:
1. Predict the way the author feels about creating a story within a particular genre and do you think that drama could be limiting to the author?
2. Is the author lying if he/she classifies her story as non-fiction, but everything in the story is not 100 percent true? Or, if the author classifies his/her story as fiction, but uses a few real life experiences?
3. Why is adaptation dangerous?
4. What perspective did Marjane Satrapi write from?
Persepolis, the Film directed by Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud
Persepolis. Dir. Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. Sony Pictures, 2008. DVD.
Create a Film Review
Assignment: Write a film review on Persepolis. Focus on the dramatic and literary parts of the film.
Keep in mind: Do not forget to use the language for analysing cinematography. Such as a close-up, or fade-out. The audience you are writing to has never viewed Persepolis before. Your review will be the audiences first impression of the film.
1. Your review must start off with a hook.
2. The next paragraph should written as a summary of the film. Do not forget to paraphrase.
3. The third paragraph dives into your analysis of the film.
4. In the fourth paragraph, evaluate.
5. The last paragraph is your conclusion.