Protesters in Iran are ‘beautiful and inspiring’, says Persepolis creator | Marjane Satrapi

The creator of Persepolis, the acclaimed graphic novel depicting an Iranian woman’s childhood during and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution that was made into an Oscar-nominated film, said today’s protesters are “beautiful and inspiring”.

History was repeating itself in the protests sweeping the country, Marjane Satrapi told the Guardian. “What I experienced, young people are experiencing now. My hope is that the situation will go towards something beautiful called freedom and democracy.

“And the big difference with my time is that the boys weren’t with us. The beauty now is that there are boys and girls together. So that’s what gives me hope in addition to feeling extremely sad because of all this violence. There is nothing more beautiful and inspiring than their courage.

She said that following the establishment of Persepolis, she was unable to return to her country of birth and childhood. “I haven’t been back to Iran for 22 years. It’s a big price to pay. But risking your life on the streets is a much greater sacrifice.

An art sheet from the original Persepolis book. Photography: Marjane Satrapi/Courtesy of Sotheby’s

This month, the original Persepolis book art will be sold to fund Satrapi’s next project. Forty-four sheets will be auctioned online by Sotheby’s in London, with an estimate of £4,000-6,000 each.

Describing the artwork as a “monster in my closet”, Satrapi said it was “time to move on”. She made the decision to sell six months ago, “at a time when I could never have imagined it would be against the backdrop of the incredible scenes we see in Iran today.”

Published in 2000, Persepolis quickly became an international bestseller and is considered a modern masterpiece. An autobiographical account of Satrapi’s childhood, it challenged Western preconceptions about Iranian history and society and combined intimate, comedic storytelling with social, political and spiritual issues. In 2019, it was on the Guardian’s list of the 100 best books of the 21st century.

Ashkan Baghestani, specialist in contemporary and Middle Eastern art at Sotheby’s, said: “Persepolis is an undisputed masterpiece, a phenomenon that has transcended borders and established comics as a literary genre in its own right. .

“Each of these pages is a tribute to the history of Iran, but also to each child who grew up in times of conflict. I can’t think of a more relevant body of work in such a difficult time as the one Iran is currently going through.

Satrapi said she was “completely surprised” by the success of the book. “I thought no one would post it; I will make 10 copies for my friends. When it was released, I thought, OK, maybe 300 people will buy it. But suddenly, it became phenomenal.

The creation of the comic strip was “the work of a monk”. “You have to be like a monk who lives alone in a monastery, and at the same time you have to be extremely obsessive. And I never thought first that I was a monk and then that I was obsessive – and then I found out, oh yeah, I’m an obsessive monk.

The images were not illustrations of the text, she said. “You read the pictures. The image was the first language of humans, remember. They are the most universal thing.

Satrapi declined to elaborate on his next project, saying it was “a work in progress. It’s like a weird animal growing up. I don’t know if it will end up being a bird or a cow.

Investors wanted a return on their investment, she said. “I just want to finance my new project myself. Do something I want to do without being under pressure.

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