Persian blues

Yolanda Zappaterra talks to Marjane Satrapi about her lyrical and provocative graphic novels.

For example, the first half of Persepolis 2 shows a young punk Marjane undergoing the trials of adolescence, and becoming increasingly isolated and marginalised in her exile. It is a drabber and more pedestrian affair than the second part, which has a richer, more layered style, depicting the teenager’s difficult return and assimilation into her society and family. It’s a subtle shift, with finely nuanced image and text, and while Satrapi admits it wasn’t deliberate, with hindsight she says she can ‘look at a drawing and tell you what kind of mood I was in when I drew it’. For her, it’s much easier to see those subtleties in the work of other artists she admires. These include Art Spiegelman and his Maus books, as well as cartoonist Seth, Chris Ware, Joe Sacco and ‘so many artists from so many spheres – all forms of expression inspire me and inform my work’, she enthuses.

The success of Persepolis has enabled Satrapi to move into other realms; recent projects have included a mural for a Paris designer, a free rein with the back page of Italian fashion magazine Flair and, inevitably, a movie of Persepolis, due to go into production later this year. She’s excited by all of them, particularly the way her success has opened doors and enabled her to do other work. Is there anything she has a burning urge to do? She thinks long and hard before admitting: ‘No, I really like my life. But I’d have liked to have been a punk rock singer. Yeah, someone like Patti Smith.’

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi, will be published on 26 August by Jonathan Cape, priced £12.99

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