Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Persepolis Introduction

Just recently, I found out a investigative background was going to be given for the legendary comic group known as L'Association. I very often equated this being the European equivalent of the founding of Image Comics, only with more sophisicated work, rather than deriative S-hero teams. (Image may have moved away from this stereotype, but this early stigmata is still on many people's minds)

When I first heard about l'Associciation's founding members getting into arguements around its founding members, I did what any faithful fan of Liefeld and Spawn did - I willfully turned a blind eye to these happenings, feeling slightly disappointed, and hoping that things weren't as bad as they first appeared. It would've been a shame if such influential and motivational artists who strived to change the current comic's market turned out to be squabling crybabies unable to reconcile or compromise their original visions.

Strange thing, willful blindless. It can make us look the other way when we don't want to see certain inconvenient truths. However, it was this paragraph that jumped out at me:

David B. also refers to the crucial role he played in inspiring Satrapi to create her first comic and in having it published at L’Association. “When I was helping Marjane conceive Persepolis, I was helping her in practical terms,” he remembers. “I provided criticism and guidance and Menu wasn’t around. Menu asked me to write an introduction for the first volume and what happened to it? It probably didn’t square with his haughty discourse, his foundational ‘philosophy.’ If you look for it now, you won’t find it—it is only included in the German-Swiss edition. This is the issue I have with his discourse: the appropriation it makes of the work of others.

One thing I could never understand was why David B.'s introduction and drawings weren't included with Persepolis, since that kind of cross-publicity could only lead to being led to other similar work. (The drawings don't hurt either - something I'd like to see more introducers add with their reccomendations) I was lucky enough to have a library that had an early version of Persepolis complete with the persian covers, that had the very introduction David B.'s talking about here. After reading the results, I'm wondering what exactly Menu found distaseful about it. The content is more of a history lesson than an overt political tone. My French and Babblefish is very weak, but I've attempted a rough translation as best as I can. It's extremely difficult, since most of it is really just a brief history lesson. I'll continue doing more revisions as necessary until I'm satisfied.

Page 1

When the Arabs invaded Persia in 642, the decisive battle conquered the country and overthrew the Sassanid dynasty. The defeated Persians adopted Islam, but an Islam that was underground, esoteric and revolutionary: Shi'ism.

With the death of Mohammed in 632, his family was removed from power in favor of the Prophet's escorts, Ali, his son and cousin, and Hussein, son of Ali, married a princess belonging to an ancient Persian Sassanid family, were murdered one after the other, and power stayed in Sunni hands.

Through Ali's fidelity and Hussein's obvious loyalty, they preserved the Sassanid lineage and Persia's glorious past. Thus, religious holidays are based on Zoroastrianist festivals.

The permanence of Shi'ism was ensured by a hierarchy of Imams after Hussein, who followed one another until 874, the date of the twelfth Imam, when Muhammad al-Mahdi, disappeared. His supporters say he has a <<mystic>> reign and he will reappear before the day of judgement.

The Arab invasion and occupation was the prelude to a long seige. Persia would cease to exist as an independent nation for more than eight centuries.

Page 2

Iran was dominated by the Ghaznavid Turks in the 10th century, the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century, and the Mongols who founded the Ilkbans dynasty from the 12th to the 14th century. At the end of the 14th century, Persia fell under the Timurid domination. However, under these multiple masters, Persia expressed the vitality of its culture and language. The emblem is the <Book of Kings>> written by Ferdowsi in the 10th century, Turkish ruler Mahmud of Ghanzna. It tells the story of kings and heroes of Persia since the beginning of the world. This Persian epic would radiate throughout Asia and influence the Turkmen and Uzbek Khans, the Mamelukes Sultans and Ottomans, and the great Ilkban Mongols of India.

Even though it was a Shi'ism Turkish dynasty, Persia owes its revival to the Safavid in the early sixteenth century. They fought continuously against the reign of the Ottoman Turks. In 1795, after the Napoleonic Nadir Shah's period of inactivity, another Turkmen tribe founded the Qajar dynasty.

Persia was then caught in a power struggle Russia and England. During the 19th century, the country became a buffer state between the two powers. The first annexed the Caucasus and Central Avie, and the second was in Afghanistan and Tibet. The discovery of oil and the First World War accelerated the seizure of British involvement in the economy.

In 1925, an officer named Reza Khan, seized power and overthrew the last Qajar shah. He accelerated the westernization of the country and greatly upset the religious balance of power and the country was officially given the name of Iran.

Page 3

During the Second World War, the north was occupied by the Soviets, and the south by the English; and the American newcomers, requiring Iran's aid for the war on Germany. Faced with the Shah's lack of enthusiasm, they deposed him and replaced him with his son Mohamed Riza.

In 1953, the CIA organized the first coup against Mossadeq, the prime minister who challenged the distribution of oil profits by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The Americans submitted the country to a blockade of oil exports. Mossadeq was overthrown and Mohamed Riza who left the country, took back the throne. He remained in power until 1979, the day when he fled the Revolution.

All this is just background details. Marjane inherited this history, and she's responsible for creating the first Iranian comic book.

David B.

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