Satrapi Explores Various Mediums


“I was somebody who liked to write and liked to draw, and so the combination is comics,” Marjane Satrapi said during this past week’s Living Writers question and answer session. The mock interview was held by Associate Professor of English Jennifer Brice and Thomas A. Bartlett Chair and Professor of English Jane Pinchin.

Satrapi is the renowned author of Persepolis a graphic novel about her childhood in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution. It is taught in many middle and high schools throughout America, and it has also been translated into 50 different languages. In addition to her native language Persian, Satrapi also speaks English, French, Swedish, Italian and German. She is a writer, a drawer and a filmmaker. Some of her most famous works include the graphic novel Persepolis, as well as Embroideries and Chicken with Plums, both graphic novels that have been adapted into films.

At first, Satrapi was skeptical about turning her graphic novels into films, worried that it would be a bad idea. She explained how film and graphic novels are completely different mediums and how attempting to adapt a story from one medium to the other would be like creating an entirely new story. However, she eventually agreed to create the film. After all, they were paying her to learn something new, and she understood that she would not be losing anything by learning a new trade. In the end, Satrapi fell in love with filmmaking.

When she was first writing Persepolis she did not imagine anyone would read her graphic novel.

“I didn’t have any audience because I didn’t think anybody would even publish my book,” said Satrapi, the now bestselling author whose same graphic novel is taught in schools around America.

After publishing Persepolis Satrapi learned that she had to be careful using humor in her work. Since the graphic novel was based on her life, her readers would assume that everything in Persepolis was the absolute truth.

“Whatever I say they take it seriously,” Satrapi said. “I have to be careful with each word that I write.”

Satrapi also discussed how she was seen as a role model because her graphic novel was taught to many children in schools. Although she never thought of herself as that type of person, some have considered her to be a poor role model because she smokes. Yet, Satrapi believes that being a perfect person is impossible.

“All the things I have learned in my life are not from the good things I’ve done, but from the mistakes I’ve made,” Satrapi said.

She explained how she continually tries to resist making the same mistakes over and over, but she can’t help her faults because she is a human being and it’s in her nature to make mistakes. 

However, when it comes to her work, she puts one hundred percent effort into every small aspect of her writing and drawing. While Satrapi may not be a perfect person, she does the best that she can in every particular moment.

“I am not a good girl, but I’m a decent person,” Satrapi said.