Un-framed Potential: Persepolis

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 9.48.45 PMPersepolis, by Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novel that follows Satrapi’s life as a child growing up during the Iranian war.


The majority of the book is drawn in standard rectangle panels with gutters between them. Any deviation in this pattern calls attention to the speed or intention of the lack of frame.


These particular pages are an example of how Satrapi uses the lack of a frame to create meaning. Each framed panel is thought to be a single moment in time and one after another means they are in sequential order.


The section of scenes where the man is being beaten to death is not framed. This is useful in showing that these scenes are not in sequential order; they happened over a period of time. It is also important to note that the man knows what happened but did not actually witness it. Therefore the scenes aren’t from memory; they’re actually just imagined scenes conjured from the story the character is telling. The image of the characters standing in the upper left-hand corner is actually happening in the context of the story. They are outside of a frame to show that the other images are being imagined while they stand there.


According to Thierry Groensteen’s explanation of “The Separative Function” there are sometimes artificial “borders” that create an “organic unit”. This page has a row of panels above and below the unframed section. This gives room for interpreting it as an “organic unit”. The reader understands that this section of illustration is somehow connected to each other. Also, they are relating differently to one another in that the concrete moment (the parents and Marjane standing) is smaller in size compared to the other images. They are imagined thoughts; therefore they are a separate entity that holds a different weight. They are larger than life so to say.




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