Persepolis 2.0: History, Comics Repeat Themselves in Iran

41mk4oh0v0l_sl110_ By Richard Gehr

In 2004, Marjane Satrapi published Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, a graphic autobiography about her family's experience during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when the Shah of Iran was overthrown (with the help of the US government). The new regime turned out to be even more repressive than the previous one, so her parents sent Satrapi to Austria, where she experienced both an awakening and an emotional breakdown. (Satrapi faithfully translated her gorgeous book into an equally elegant 2007 movie.)

Last week two Iranian expatriates known as Sina and Payman published a "remixed" version of Satrapi's work, with the author's permission, as a website. Persepolis 2.0 uses Satrapi's images, with new words, to recount Iran's June 12 election and its violent aftermath. It begins with the optimism of election day and ends with the June 20 shooting of Neda Agha-Soltan, the iconic martyr of the Iranian opposition. Widely translated and distributed – via email, Facebook, and Twitter – Persepolis 2.0 has become one of the more prominent expressions of disgust at the rigged election.

In an interview in today's Guardian, Sina said: "I've read some comments online from people angry that we 'ruined' Satrapi's work or unhappy with the poor quality of the copy. Their opinions are valid, but our point was just to get people to discuss Iran so that it didn't slip back into collective obscurity.

"Satrapi's novels are about her life, but to my generation of Iranians (at least in the west) they have become more than that: they have become iconic. The fact that images from 30 years ago can tell a story about what is happening now makes them all the more powerful."