Women and Rebellion in Graphic Novels Essay

Women and Rebellion in Graphic Novels Essay

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Though graphic novels are not recognized as literature by many literary critics, they have the distinction of communicating with pictures in a way that may not be possible with words alone. Themes that would be lost if they were merely sentences on a page are highlighted when set to a graphic novel’s illustration, and graphic novels can connect deeply with the reader through images of war and suffering, such as in the graphic novels Persepolis and Fables.

Marjane Satrapi’s autobiography Persepolis takes place in Tehran, Iran during and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, during which the people of Iran overthrew Mohammad Reza Pah-lavi, known simply as “the Shah.” The Islamic Regime was founded in its wake, and Marjane spent her early adolescence living under the threat of the government and the war with Iraq . This era of Iranian history was filled with discontent, war, strife, and a deep sense of nationalism mixed with fear of punishment for the smallest infraction. In contrast to the historically accurate background of Persepolis, Bill Willingham’s comic Fables features a secret community of fairy tale characters in a New York City neighborhood called “Fabletown,” as well “The Farm” hidden in upstate New York. The first volume (issues 1-5) introduces the main characters and the second volume depicts the Farm Fables rising up against the Fabletown government in a bloody revolution.

While these settings may be superficially different, one realistic and one fantastical, the characters of Fabletown and the post-Revolution residents of Iran share similar fears and doubts about their future and their homeland’s ability to survive its current challenges. The fairy tale creatures, like many post-Revolution Iranians, are refugees in a n...


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...tatus as strong women does not preclude the fact that they are more different than they are the same. At the end of Marjane’s story she has fundamentally changed, and in doing so actively defies the authority of her homeland. In contrast, while Snow White goes through major physical and emo-tional struggles, she remains fundamentally herself. She will continue to uphold the laws of Fa-bletown as she always has, respecting the authority that enables her to keep her community to-gether. While both women are strong and independent, that independence plays out very differ-ently as both their stories evolve.


Works Cited

Satrapi, Marjane. The Complete Persepolis. Trans. L’Association, Paris, France and Anjali Singh. New York: Pantheon Books, n.d. Print.

Willingham, Bill, Lan Medina, and Mark Buckingham. Fables: The Deluxe Edition. New York: Vertigo Comics, 2009. Print.

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