The most vital part of the graphic novel - what sets it apart from standard literary novels - is its ability to construct a narrative with both words and images. In a graphic novel, the process of choosing the specific images, scenes, and panel arrangements to tell the story is called encapsulation. Unlike movies, which are continuous, a comic must choose specific moments to present, and must thus ensure that they add significant depth and meaning to the story. In Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, difficult topics like revolution, war, and torture must be addressed with poise, but also must be drawn in such a manner that readers will be affected by them. For example, in the accompanying image from the first book, Satrapi chose to use five specific images in order to illustrate her first experience of what becomes a violent confrontation.
The encapsulation of this scene involves five very different images which, taken together, provide the reader with a powerful example of visual storytelling. A tableaux in the third panel showing Marji’s mother in a revolutionary stance shows how Satrapi viewed her: as a powerful figure. In the next panel, a contrast made between Marji, wearing a smile dressed in white, and the angry protesters in black intensifies her innocence and isolation from the crowd. The fifth panel on the page is an action shot of men beating the protesters with bats and a speech balloon saying “The scarf or a beating,” indicating how quickly the protesters come under attack. WIthout the encapsulation of these specific images, the sentence, “So I went with them, I passed out flyers… when suddenly things got nasty,” leaves no lasting impression on the reader. Only with the particular encapsulation Satrapi employs is meaning driven home.
If you wish to cite the above article, please use the following citation:
Wolfe, Talia. "Encapsulating the Moment in Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis." Comics in Education, 01 March 2015. Web
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Dr. Glen Downey is an award-winning children's author, educator, and academic from Oakville, Ontario. He works as a children's writer for Rubicon Publishing, a reviewer for PW Comics World, an editor for the Sequart Organization, and serves as the Chair of English and Drama at The York School in Toronto.
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