Historical, Cultural, and Social Context

Sowa did not have a long standing history with comics in any form. Growing up in Poland, they were not all that common in the time of communist reign. If you were able to be your hands on an issue of any comic, it was on rare occasion. Not until she moved to France did she delve into the comic book world as her life partner illustrates for a living. This form of medium in particular  function as a universe less gray then the one she imagines to bring life to the young readers. It showed a girl living through hardships, but also showed that even if there are hardships that there is some universal understanding. The text in Marzi can function without drawings, but it creates this photo album of her life.


In an interview with the La Times, Sowa was asked about growing up in the world of poverty and war and what life is like now living and working freely in a completely different place. She was asked if it feels indulgent or if she takes things for granted. Sowa explains, “Whatever I do I always feel the history of my country. I will never forget the long lines after everything. Now maybe it seems strange, but for me it is not an old story. I also think that in my parent’s generation’s minds it is very present and maybe for them there still exists the fear that it could come back.” She says that sometimes when she goes to the supermarket she feels exhausted over all the things she can buy.  She says, “My mother goes out every day. She doesn’t buy food every day but she told me that she likes to see what’s new, she likes to see that there are plenty of things, that she can have a choice, because before there was no choice”.

This mindset and overall ideology of the world around them appears evident in Marzi, but you can empathize with those conditions even if you weren’t in poverty at some point. Here’s a video link showing just how awful the conditions for food were in Poland in the 1980s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENG7PEvByOE

Posted by Sam



Clark, Noelene. “‘Marzi’: Graphic Memoir Charts Universal experiences.” Hero Complex. N.p., 15 Oct. 2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

“Soviet Grocery Store in 1986 This Is What Communism Looks like!” YouTube. YouTube, 07 Feb. 2014. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.


2 thoughts on “Historical, Cultural, and Social Context

  1. I can imagine that comics would have been a rare thing for families like Marzi’s as well as other things like chewing gum and chocolate like she mentioned in the memoir. Polish comics started appearing in the early 20th century according to this article. It gives an in-depth history of comics in Poland and discussed popular titles and genres. There is also a section that talks about historical comics and I think Marzi fits into this category perfectly.


  2. I am suprised that the form of the comic was not a common thing in 1980’s. And I think this fact has an irony connection with the fact that Sowa chooses the format of her memoir as a comic.
    I also believe the big part of after war is that the fear still exists. I found this point gave me a lot of emotional interaction because Korea is still carrying a long armistice since 1953. Every day we found a continuous consciousness regards on war, and we know how horrible war is from our history. Through Marzi, I found much emotional interactions on her hardship from the war.


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