Category: Biography

Media Appearances

Marzena Sowa has made appearances at a few Comic cons with the most notable being at New York.  She has also made appearances at the Conrad Festival as a guest back in 2015.

The Conrad Festival is organized by the City of Krakow in Poland that happens to be the largest international literary even in Poland and one of the largest in Europe. The Marzi comic was in an exhibition titled: WAR! Along with other works such as Nation of Perdition and 25 pieces of war art.

Conrad

Here’s a Link to her biography on their website and further details about the yearly event. http://en.conradfestival.pl/biogram/marzena-sowa

Usually at these comic cons type of events she participates in wide group discussions where fans can ask questions. It’s usually a good way to interact with fans and see the type of audience which is quite broad in this case that she caters towards. As the comic is fairly young in time Sowa will be doing many more interactions with her fans. Like most artists and writers, as more public appearances are scheduled for Sowa, the more the book grows in popularity.

Posted by Sam

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References

“Marzena Sowa – Guests – Conrad Festival.” Conrad Festival. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

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Works and Awards

Marzena Sowa has written several titles, each under the title of the Marzi series, published by Dupuis Publishers in France. Petit Carpe (2005), Sur La Terre Comme Au Ciel (2006), Rezystor (2007), Le Bruit des Villes (2008), La Pologne Vue Par Les Yeux D’une Enfant (2008), Pas de Liberte Sans Solidarite (2009), Une Enfant en Pologne (2009) and Tout Va Mieux (2011) are her current publications under their French titles.

Marzena won the Will Eisner Comic Book Industry Award in the Best Album Based on True Events category for the volume of Marzi that was released in Poland under the title Children and Fish Don’t Have a Voice in 2012, and is the only Polish author to have won the award to date. Other volumes of Marzi were nominated for Best Comic Book of the Year at the International Comic Book Festival in Angouleme, France, in 2008.

According to Polish Culture, the book received excellent reviews in North America, its quality being practically guaranteed by the publishing house that took it up in America, Vertigo.

 

Post by Jess

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References

Eisner Awards Current Info. (2014). Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://www.comic-con.org/awards/eisner-awards-current-info

Marzena Sowa | Artist | Culture.pl. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://culture.pl/en/artist/marzena-sowa

Marzi Reviews

Publishers weekly

CReview

Most reviews of Sowa’s memoir are positive and gives most readers a powerful sense of the world she saw in Poland during her childhood. Publisher’s Weekly states that “Marzi is the perfect guide to her world as she tries to better inform the reader in understanding the workings of the Soviet-controlled state as well as the interactions of adults around her.” The majority of the pages are drawn from Marzi’s eye-level which enables us to understand a child’s perspective. Marzi’s relationships with her father, “an affable man whom she adores, and her mother, with whom she frequently clashes, are particularly well-developed and complex.” Each page has the same six-panel layout along with the cartoon style, dialogue, and the quality. This captures Marzi’s childhood as well as the story of Poland itself. Without being careless or sacrificing any of its overall complexion. The comic portrays this comparison between the children and the oppressed.

The Forgotten “I”

The author of this scholarly review, Marta Bladek, grew up in Poland at a similar time and was deeply moved by the story Sowa’s depicted. She says, “It powerfully evokes an era that many other Polish citizens could not have dreamed of. The drawings alongside the writing capture the toll of life under Communism. It conveys both the immediacy of the child’s point of view and reflective commentary of the adult she later came to be” (26)

Seattle Times

Andrew A. Smith of Seattle Times, “Marzi is written by Marzena Sowa as an account of her younger self as she remembers it behind the Iron Curtain. Life under communism is and was an experience completely alien to those that this book was catered towards. Sowa completely captures the perspective of a child, one universal to us all. That viewpoint is held with consistency throughout, grounding the reader, while experiencing the unique.” One comparison he makes further in the review is that in reading Marzi, “one is immediately struck by its similarities to Persepolis, a similar tale of another little girl growing up under a repressive regime. In addition, both Sowa and ““Persepolis”” creator Marjane Satrapi use a fluid, cartoony style, which serves not only to invite the reader with its gentle charm, but also to serve as a counterpoint to the harsh, serious world in which the protagonists live.”

Here’s a link to full review of Marzi on Seattle Times webpage. http://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/books/comics-marzi-a-memoir/

Posted by Sam

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References

Bladek, Marta. “The Forgotten “I”. The Women’s Review of Books 29.3 (2012): 26–29. Web.

“Comics: ‘Marzi: A Memoir'” Publisher’s Weekly. N.p., n.d. Web.

Smith, Andrew A. “Comics: ‘Marzi: A Memoir'” The Seattle Times. N.p., 17 Nov. 2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

Documentary Review

Love, Hate & Propaganda: The Cold War

cprop.jpg

The four part documentary picks up right after WWII and the beginning of the Cold war.  It includes everything about Russia’s lead in the space race to Nixon’s visit to Russia.  It uses footage from the period and as well as includes original footage of the McCallum family emerging from a fallout shelter after living there for weeks. As it relates to Marzena’s experience that she depicts in Marzi, it gives you a look into the more historical and political views of the time.

Here’s a video link to part 4 of the documentary where Marzi makes an entrance. http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Love%2c+Hate+%26+Propaganda%3a+The+Cold+War&&view=detail&mid=BF4890E8AAE9B4560023BF4890E8AAE9B4560023&rvsmid=2DCC3E1D82C97380B4822DCC3E1D82C97380B482&FORM=VDFSRV&fsscr=0

Ultimately a very interesting documentary series put together in an attempt to show both sides of the coin that always play out for any major story and how propaganda tools including the new advent of television which had a major role in how the Cold War played out. No new facts are played out in any of the 4 episodes that consist of the second leg of this documentary series. Each episode is made more effective & poignant by dropping in personal stories from those who lived through these events as well as supported facts from intellectuals in the field. These stories managed to be personal, yet factual and fascinating at the same time. Marzi makes a small appearance at 21:30 to show some correlation between the social constructs and how Sowa represents that in her comic memoir.

Posted be Sam

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References

“Bing.” Love, Hate & Propaganda: The Cold War. N.p., 19 July 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

“Review: Love, Hate & Propaganda: The Cold War.” Examiner.com. N.p., 1 Feb. 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

Historical Context of Sowa’s Growing Up: Part 2

Continued…

Between 1956 and 1980 (when Marzi is set) was when Władysław Gomułka (pronounced vwaˈdɨswaf ɡɔˈmuwka) (Wikipedia) was in power; he was brought into office as first secretary of the communist party in 1956, despite Moscow threatening to invade Poland if Gomułka was elected. Krushchev, the leSpotkanie przedwyborcze w FSOader of the Soviet Union at the time, was reassured by Poland’s government that their new elected official would not change any of the basic foundations of Polish communism, so Russia withdrew their invasion threats.

Poland had a temporary hopeful spell under Gomułka’s control, but the 1960’s and -70’s saw the hopeful mood in Poland decline as Gomułka’s power in the government began to dwindle. There were attempted economic reforms, widespread dissent, and open confrontations from influential sections of the citizenry, such as the church, important intellectuals and workers. This dissent is shown in Marzi, as her father is a part of the workers’ dissent and confrontations. As is also evident in Marzi, the economy is at a near collapse.

This is the era that Marzena Sowa writes about in her graphic novel.

 

Posted by Jess

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References

Władysław Gomułka. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Władysław_Gomułka

Polish Pronunciation. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA_for_Polish

Historical Context of Sowa’s Growing Up: Part 1

In the book Marzi by Marzena Sowa, Poland is trapped in a chaotic wartime era. But how did it get there?

The Soviet Union took over Poland (with permission form the Allied Forces) in 1945, at the end of World War II. According to negotiations between Allied leaders Franklin D. Roosevelt (US President from January of 1929 to December of 1932), Winston Churchill (British Prime Minister from May of 1940 to July of 1945, then again from October of 1951 to April of 1955), and Joseph Stalin (Soviet General Secretary from April of 1922 to October of 1952), there were two accords that were written in order to keep some sort of regulation over the takeover of Poland. Seeing as the Soviet Union’s Red Army were victorious in Poland at the end of World War II, the Allies agreed that Poland, and 100,000 square kilometers of previously-German territory was to be given to the Soviet Union in the Potsdam accord. As a result, 3 million Poles were removed from formerly-Polish territory and resettled in German lands.

In the Yalta accords, the Allies “sanctioned the formation of a provisional Polish coalition government composed of communists andleba52-02s
proponents of western democracy” (Polish Academic Information Center, University at Buffalo). The Yalta accords favoured communists, who were proclaimed to enjoy “the advantages of Soviet support, superior morale, control over crucial ministries, and Moscow’s determination to bring Eastern Europe sedurely under its thumb as a strategic asset in the emerging Cold War”. Essentially, they were using Poland to try to expand into the entirety of Eastern Europe, so that if the USA attacked during the Cold War years, Russia would have a much higher population from which to pull soldiers and resources.

The first parliamentary election in Poland was in 1947; however, it only allowed candidates from an insignificant and widely unsupported political party called the Polish Peasant Party to run against the leading communist parties. During the two years since Russia’s takeover of Poland, the Polish Peasant Party, or PPP, was harassed into ineffectiveness by the new form of government. At the election, communist party members won 417 out of 434 parliamentary seats, effectively ending all other opposing parties.

Within two years of this first election, the communist party assured their ascendancy to power by restyling the Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza (which translates to the Polish United Workers Party) (U of Buffalo) or PZPR as new holders of a monopoly power over what was now the Polish Peoples’ Republic. The PZPR was a communist party that was founded in 1948 that merged the Polish Socialist Party with the Polish Workers’ Party, but only after the existing government carried out purges within the parties’ ranks.

To Be Continued…

Post by Jess

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References

The Historical Setting: The Polish People’s Republic. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2016, from http://info-poland.buffalo.edu/classroom/longhist6.html

Adult Life

Marzena Sowa is doing well in her adulthood. In 2001, Sowa moved to France to complete her studies in literature that started in Romance Philology at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Sowa spent two years at Bordeaux Montaigne University in France, where she met partner Sylvan Savoia. Together with Savoia, Sowa wrote and designed the book Marzi, publishing their first edition in 2004. The last instalment of the series came out in 2011.

Marzi_Marzena-Sowa

Posted by Jess