An Evening with Marjane Satrapi

marjane-satrapiMarjane Satrapi – author of Persepolis and several other fantastic “comic books” gave a lecture at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Monday, April 7th, 2008 @ 7:30pm. Last night.

Through the awesome reminder of Savanna – I was able to secure tickets around 9:00am yesterday morning. Because I am cheap, and I didn’t figure on getting good seats anyways – we went with the $10.00 upper balcony seating.

My cellphone died around 10:00am, so Dan and I had to form a complicated series of emails to relay information about meeting locations, trading off lap-tops, and all sorts of tom foolery. It was quite exciting.

We met up around 6:30pm, when my Spanish class ended. Dan was fooling about in the Starbucks below the Broadway building, reading Fallen Angel #2 and #3 (we’ll talk more about that later!). He presented me with a free drink coupon (some crazy lady stole his drink), and we were off. To the nearest 7-11 to buy Tussin to alleviate the nasty cough that has sprung up in Dan the last few days, making sleep NEARLY impossible in the evenings (but only fair turn-about after my two week long head-cold hell).

We arrived at the Schnitzer, picked up our tickets from Will Call, and Dan hit up the bathroom. I took the opportunity to peruse the book table in the lobby, and pick up a copy of Persepolis 2 (which together with Persepolis, forms the entire story…). We trudged over to concessions, grabbed a soft pretzel and nuts, and then found seats in the Upper Balcony.

The house was nearly packed, so my hopes of spotting Savanna in the crowd dimmed until I was merely people watching. Hope springs eternal – BECAUSE I not only saw her, and chatted amiably about folks in the PSU Graduate language program, but I also saw my Aunt Lauren. The little girl with her didn’t look much like a Cousin of mine, but they were in the cheap seats with us as well, and I meant to wave or make convo – but totally forgot.

Satrapi was engrossing, witty and fiery. I loved every minute of her eloquent descriptions of what comics are, what attracted her to the art-form, and why she prefers it over “regular writing” and even “film.” I was pleased down to my toes when she ruefully condemned the term “graphic novel,” and insisted her work be called “comics.”

“That’s what I make. I make comics,” She explained. “I mix words and drawing, and there is something powerful in that. There is something universal, that I think everyone can connect to.”

Granted – the comic authors she knows and reads are well known for being elitist and for most probably thinking of their work first as “graphic novels” rather than comics. Guys like Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman, Will Eisner and Craig Thompson. I’m not saying all of these folks are super pretentious, but there are a few in there who probably snub their nose at my favorite authors and works.

While English is not Satrapi’s first language, nor her second – as she proclaimed at the beginning of her lecture – she still came the closest as anyone ever has to explicating and defining what makes comics a powerful medium, and what I think elevates it from what most people assume it is – TRASH meant for children, adolescents and “retarded adults,” (a direct quote BTW).

She was also very quick to condemn our government/president and explain that the popularity of her work has much to do with the focus on individuals, and humanizing a foreign culture so that people of all countries, ethnicities, races, languages and backgrounds can identify.

Another bonus point with me: She’d vote for Barack Obama. 🙂

I don’t agree with her ideas about smoking – that it’s part of a democracy. I couldn’t get on board with that one, but ya know, everything else she said I was in agreement with, or compelled by.

The end of the evening boasted some question/answer time, and then it ended around 9:00pm

Poor Dan was having to supress his evil cough the entire time, but it was great to get out into the world for some real honest to goodness couple time. And it wasn’t a movie! It was something literary that we both could enjoy. Sharing interests with your life partner is amazing good times! 🙂

The lecture series for next year looks pretty engaging, and I’m especially excited about Mira Nair (whom I have a terribly bad habit of calling “Nair” like the hair removing cream. It’s not. More like Ny-ear). There is also a David Sedaris lecture in October 2008. I’m thinking we’ll attend at least one other lecture next year, because Dan and I both really enjoyed it, despite being smack dab in the middle of thick glasses, goatees and the scent of rich perfume soaked necks anointed by silk scarves.

Marjane Satrapi was the ultimate draw though. And I was happy to be in a room, watching her laugh, and laughing with her. 🙂

Much Love, Mindy C


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About tinyheroes

Mindy Crouchley is a 33 year old woman with a degree in English and Technical Writing from Portland State University. She has accumulated three+ years experience in the Marketing and Communications field - with an emphasis on creating digital media content. She has been reading comic books since she was 10 years old. She currently lives in outer southeast Portland with her spouse Dan Robertson, her baby girl, and their dog - Jabba the pug. She spends her free time devouring books, crafting cosplay, video gaming, attending comic cons, writing stories/screenplays, attending book to film adaptation club meetings, volunteering, and watching copious amounts of TV and movies.

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