I’m pleased to see that Marjane Satrapi, best known for her autobiographical Persepolis, continues to write and draw stories beyond her own experience. (Too many cartoonists who put out comics from their own lives are expected to continue in that vein instead of branching out.) From telling us about her female relatives to an unbalanced uncle, now she’s moved completely into fable and folktale with The Sigh.
With a beginning that will remind the reader of Beauty and the Beast, The Sigh tells of Rose, the youngest of a merchant’s three daughters. She asks her father to bring her back a blue bean from his trip, but when he can’t find one, the ghostly Ah the Sigh visits the home with the gift in return for Rose’s presence at a faraway palace.
You may think you know the story, after hearing that beginning, but it takes a very different turn, with Rose winding up in three other tales during her struggles to find love and happiness. (In this way, it reminds me of The Arabian Nights.) Rose has an odd sense of responsibility, taking too much on herself at times. None of this would have happened had she not been treated as a prize, so sometimes I thought she was taking things a little too personally, but it’s welcome to see that she’s never a victim.
The book isn’t a comic, but illustrated text, with Satrapi’s thick-lined images resembling colorful crayon drawings. They remind me of a child’s work (although it would have to be a precocious child), which dovetails nicely with the fairy tale approach. We often tell youngsters these kinds of stories, scary and dangerous as they might be, although adults will have their own interpretations of cruel kidnappers, odd transformations, and perhaps justified punishments. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)