Monday, June 11, 2012

Quick Review

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here's another instance of the kind of graphic memoir that always pulls me in: suggestive of recent headlines, but personal, great production values, complicated story, but drawn rather than simply illustrated from a text. This book told me what it means to be under the eyes mullahs, did it without too much preaching, and with a sense of humor, even as the story being told grew darker and more realistic as it went along.

This kind of very personal cartooning, when, of necessity it takes on larger, more overtly political issues, can be a bit crude, and that happens here eventually; the Iranian religious leaders all starting to look like, well... cartoon villains. I'm not suggesting they not, just that seeing them depicted as such can feel reductive. The subtleties of a straight prose narrative would be likelier to give such devils their due, but then that may well be the attraction of the graphic in the first place; emotional simplicity. Cartoons know how to hate.

And what is not to hate about the bad guys here? Anyone old enough to remember the late Shah might also remember the all too brief optimism engendered by his fall. Could what came after though look any blacker? Certainly not from the safe distance at which I read this book, and obviously not from where the artist draws.

This one convinces me more than ever that the memoir is the most interesting aspect of the graphic revolution.

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