About Us

This is the official blog for the comic book club held in the book lounge of Waterstone's Liverpool One.

The group meet at 6pm on the third Monday of the month to discuss their thoughts and opinions on the comics selected.

It's a fun and friendly atmosphere and all are welcome: from those who have never read comic books, manga, or graphic novels before (call them what you like), to those who never read anything else.

The group, and this blog, are administered by Glyn Morgan, the Bookseller responsible for the Graphic Novels and Manga sections of the store and a big comic book fan who is currently studying for his PhD at the University of Liverpool.

If you would like to comment on any of the comics we've read, this month or in the distant past, please feel free to contribute to the comments section of the relevant posts.

Visit this club's big sister: The Science Fiction/ Fantasy Book Club

A Note on the Blog

Although this blog may appear slow paced and close to death in fact the group is very much alive and now entering its second year. Most of the group discussion (not done in person in Waterstone's of Wagamama's) takes place in the Facebook group - feel free to join. In the meantime I will try to keep a copy of the reading list here for general consumption. - G

Monday, 18 October 2010

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and Sin City: Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller


 Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's story. The intelligent and outspoken child of radical Marxists, and the great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor, she bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Detailing a child's life during the Iranian revolution, and a young adult's life in exile from her homeland and her family in Austria. Persepolis is a modern classic, originally published in French in four parts, then in English in two - the edition shown on the left contains the whole story.

Sin City Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye

The first volume of the crime-comic megahit that introduced the now-infamous character Marv and spawned a blockbuster film returns in a newly redesigned edition, with a brand-new cover by Frank Miller - some of his first comics art in years! It's a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town. But Marv doesn't care. There's an angel in the room. She says her name is Goldie. A few hours later, Goldie's dead without a mark on her perfect body, and the cops are coming before anyone but Marv could know she's been killed. Somebody paid good money for this frame.

What Did We Think?

First off can I say this was a great first session with a strong attendance from a good group of people with a variety of experience in reading comics. I hope we have many more sessions like it.

Girls in hijabs, p. 95
More people had read Persepolis in its entirety than had The Hard Goodbye so we started with Satrapi. Praise for the book was pretty much universal although it was remarked that it could be confusing at times, particularly at the start as the small anecdotal nature of the little chapters gave it a short snappy feel (something apparently missing from the 2007 movie adaptation) which whilst endearing for its similarity to a child narrative, could make elements of the plot hard to follow. This feeling of being slightly lost was emphasised by the art style which caused confusion between characters although scenes such as the one where all the girls are wearing the hijab suggests that this element may be intentional, or at the very least that it is a convenient accident which helps us to empathise with a child's confusion at being thrust into this world.

Further comments on Satrapi's art style reflected that its lack of realism could be in initial turn-off for some, but that the story was so engrossing, and so honestly heartfelt that the reader is very quickly sucked in. We struggled to think of areas of influence that Satrapi may have drawn her style from but it was remarked that there were possible Persian and Middle-Eastern influences which we may not be fully conscious of, in the same way that much manga is influences by traditional Japanese art dating back to Medieval times. In particular the even and orderly panel layout was reminiscent of the geometric tiles common in Arabic and Persian architecture.

Persepolis is a wonderful book but also an important one. Many of us were impressed by the extent to which we felt educated by reading it, learning more about a moment in history now often overlooked in the West. Furthermore, Satrapi has established herself as a role model for other female writers and/or artists looking to get into comic books, as we struggled to think of many more examples of good female writers working in the field.

In contrast to Persepolis's blow struck for feminism, Frank Miller's The Hard Goodbye, volume one in his now (in)famous Sin City series, was seen as not being particularly flattering to women at all. There's no dancing around the fact that much of Miller's work, and Sin City in particular, is chauvinistic, sadistic, and morally questionable. And yet it's also massive fun. If you were to read any Sin City comic with the expectations of something similar to Persepolis, you would be massively disappointed. The characters lack the realism of Satrapi's work, being largely two dimensional with occasional glimpses of something deeper, this however fits with the stylised noir-ish world which Miller has created.

Sin City is acceptable because you know what it is and where it's going and so reading it is a romp through a gritty, darkly comic world of organised crime, depravity and prostitution. If the art were photographic it would likely be classed as pornography, but as it is Miller's art is a masterful use of dark and light, using shadow to mask all manner of sins and being bold enough to leave white space when it needs to be left. The Hard Goodbye also showcases Miller's excellent manipulation of panels, using splash panels to fill a page with a wordless piece of art, to superb effect. His art is much more powerful than Satrapi's but then it also has to do a lot more of the storytelling, Miller being more interested in spectacle than plot, an inversion of Persepolis. What writing Hard Goodbye has is often as stylised as the art, cool in its noir dialect, but sometimes clunky and unwieldy.

Overall both books were immensely enjoyable, but for very different reasons. Both used black and white art to create a mood, and demonstrated restraint by keeping detail to a minimum - thus leaving very strong, crisp images which if anything were all the more striking.

- Intelligent, heartfelt and honest
- Didactic
- Simple art emphasises and enhances story
- Art was at times confusing and initially off putting

Sin City Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye
- Stylised, noir cool
- Fun action filled romp
- Visually arresting art style with masterful use of panels
- Script was at times clunky
- 2D characters

 [Discussion Held on October 18th 2010]


  1. I don't know if Sin City Vol 1 felt _particularly_ misogynist or misandrist to me. All the characters are so simply drawn, I didn't feel Miller had flattened or reduced the female characters any more than the male thugs/cops/villains.

    The only bit that did make me shrug a little was the parole-officer-lesbian-who-is-also-attractive. That seemed lazy.

  2. I'd like to read some of these next: