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Sara Surani's Creative Portfolio


Persepolis provides the story of a young girl named Marji in Iran during the 1980s. As a young girl, she is exposed to many different aspects of life that a child in a peaceful country would not normally be exposed to. Marji’s parents are activists and regularly attend political protests. To me, the most intriguing aspect of this story is how young Marji is thrust into a world of adulthood. Her childhood is truncated as a consequence of the environment around her.

Persepolis illustrates Marji’s story through a comic-style novel. In order to emulate her style, I created a comic-style depiction of a child unknowingly thrust into a world beyond her wildest imagination. In the center of the comic is a young girl, smug in her bubble of innocence. Although she is young, she believes that she is “a big girl now.” Around her, is a world of terror and turmoil. At the upper left corner is a jail cell, inside which is a malnourished man. This addresses the levels of excessive torture many individuals struggled to survive through. Under this, is a question mark with a black “X” over it. This symbolizes the birth and death of curiosity. Children are naturally curious, however, as Marji was exposed to more and more atrocities she was expected to endure rather than interrogate. Despite these predetermined expectations, Marji never stopped questioning and never repressed her curiosity.  Beneath this, there is a little soap duck, mimicking the duck Marji’s uncle carved for her. This alludes to her childhood and state of innocence. Exactly opposite of the duck, there is a lit cigarette, representing Marji’s personal initiation into adulthood. Although she was forced into adulthood prior to her first cigar, this was her personal indicator of her coming of age. Encircling Marji are different weapons of murder—fire, guns, explosives, knives. Although they are very much all around her, they are not touching Marji. This shows how even though Marji was not physically affected by the turmoil, these aspects of her life affected her on a deeper mental, emotional, and psychological level. On the bottom of the strip there are two hearts, one black and one white. This symbolizes interracial relationships and the innocence yet perceivably unacceptable nature of them. Marji does not see anything wrong with two different people—different color, different class—to get married if they are in love. However, society believes otherwise. This contradiction between self v. society also heightens Marji’s curiosity and confusion.  The entire piece is black and white, emphasizing how in Marji’s world, everything is either right or wrong. There is no grey in between.


November 12th, 2014 at 4:07 AM