Category: Technical

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.

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.



Marzi is made out with muted color palette with orange or red for the point colors. Every subject is painted with muted gray, black or beige but Marzi drawn with red and orange. Because of the color, it made Marzi pop out from other subjects. Although the bright color has mainly used for Marzi, this bright color palette applied to other subjects for exceptional. Like, a vivid story for Edyta at ‘Goodbye Dolly’.

In the opinion, I think the drab color is a clever meta-reflection on the subject matter as experienced by a child too young to understand the reasons why but old enough to feel its effects. And I think muted color represent the concept of memoir. But Some people argues that this muted color made the whole book boring and tiresome after hundreds of pages. But I think this choice of color made this book more unique from any other graphic novel.

From this link, I found how the color effects to the readers in a graphic novel.

Interesting fact of this book is that the first version of the book came out with the bright color palette. But when the book translated into other languages, they switched to de-saturated color version.


Posted by Shin Jae



“Colour in Graphic Novels – Tristan J Steiner.” Colour in Graphic Novels – Tristan J Steiner. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

Sowa, Marzena, Sylvain Savoia, and Marzena Sowa. Marzi: A Memoir. New York: DC Comics, 2011. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.



Marzi is a graphic memoir book. This book can function without drawings, but the drawings bring another dimension to the story. Drawings illustrate the words and also attract a younger audience. Sylvain Savoia is the illustrator of this book, and he demonstrates the action of the characters with the details, gesture, speech bubbles, and texts.

In cartoon fundamentals, action should be shown with a line called a line of action. It’s an imagery line that flows the action of the subject. And it also brings the rhythm in the cartoon.

Let’s see the example from Marzi. From the second image, you can see that this ballerina is dancing because the line of action. Like I mentioned, Sylvain adds the action in details. From the third and last images, you will see that Marzi is moving, and the weather is windy because Sylvain adds leafs and draw her hair over her face.

1 ‘Fur and Feathers’
2 ‘Entrechats And Little Mice’
3, 4 ‘Big Brother’

Lastly, the first image can be shown that how Sylvain used a text to show the action. In this image, people are helping to start up the engine. Sylvain includes the line of action, draw smoke but he also added a big bold text like a sound effect. Because character Marzi is very playful and adventurous, Sylvain Savoia successfully expresses her personality through his detail illustration.

This link introduces the cartoon fundamentals in movement and action.–vector-19904


Posted by Shin Jae



“Cartoon Fundamentals: How to Create Movement and Action – Envato Tuts Design & Illustration Tutorial.”Design & Illustration Envato Tuts. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

Sowa, Marzena, Sylvain Savoia, and Marzena Sowa. Marzi: A Memoir. New York: DC Comics, 2011. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.


In a literary work, the characters can be defined as any person, animal, or figure. There are many types of characters that appear in literature. Each character is in their developments and functions. Character development is about how developed and complex a character is.

In Marzi, Marzi is a main character who has the greatest effect on the plot or the most affected by what happens in the story.  She is a very playful girl that has a lot of curiosity in every moment. She likes to play with her friends and try out new things. Through the war, you can find how her playful and curious personality slowly decreases. In this graphic term, the author created her hair with bright orange colour to pop out from other characters.

‘The Social Landing’

From this book, Marzi mostly narrates her story about her family. Like Marzi’s father appears in the first scene of the book seems like an affable man. He has sacrificed himself for his family. Marzi has many positive interactions with her father. Marzi’s mother is very harsh on Marzi and frequently clashes with her. Marzi’s family is very religious, they go to church every Sunday and are not in a good financial status because of the war.

Lastly, I want to talk about Edyta. Edyta appears in the last chapter but she left a huge message and purpose of this book. She is Marzi’s cousin and her friend. Edyta had a hard time getting to sleep every night, so she asked Marzi for help. She is the main reason why Marzi started to write a book. I think Edyta is a minor character but she is symbolic character in this story who represent the loss of happiness from the war.

‘Goodbye Dolly’


This link explains the types of character and how it effects to the story.


Posted by Shin Jae



“Types of Characters in Fiction.” Types of Characters in Fiction. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

Sowa, Marzena, Sylvain Savoia, and Marzena Sowa. Marzi: A Memoir. New York: DC Comics, 2011. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.


Sylvain Savoia is a Polish illustrator and cartoonist. The art director is Mark Chiarello and the design director is Robbin Brosterman. This book can defined as a cartoon because of the childlike style of images and, because it’s about Marzi’s childhood there are many children’s points of view.

The text of the book is all capitals, and the style is like handwriting. The layout of the book is deliberately reminiscent of a photo album, and the author added the actual photographs at the end of the book.

Also, her actual childhood photographs link to the illustration of characters.

An interesting thing about this book is that some of the scenes show the real events, politician and celebrity of the time.

From the chapter ‘In Vogue’, Marzi was watching the TV show and have the same haircut as celebrity Mireille Mathieu. Mireille Mathieu is a one of the famous French singer who recorded over 1,200 songs in several languages with 122 million albums sold in worldwide.

Here is a little clip of Mireille Mathieu.

Moreover, from the chapter ‘The Window of Happiness’, Marzi went to find her dad and was shocked when she saw the protest. During the protest people were holding pictures of Russian politician Vladimir Lenin. Lenin was a Russian communist, revolutionary, politician and political theorist. Under his administration, Russian and Soviet Union became a one-party communist state governed by the Russian Communist Party. His political theories are known as Leninism.


Posted by Shin Jae



“Biography.” Mireille Mathieu Official Website. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

“Mireille Mathieu. La Vie En Rose.” YouTube. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

“Marzena Sowa | Artist |” Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

“Vladimir Lenin Biography.” – Life, Family, Name, History, School, Mother, Young, Book, Old, Information, Born. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

Outstanding Scenes

Marzi is a graphic novel dealing with a personal narrative. Because this book is about Marzi (Marzena Sowa) and her memories of her childhood in Poland, this book contains many interesting and outstanding scenes.

1. ‘State of Fear.’

‘The State of Fear’

This scene is the first scene that talks about the war. Marzi remembers how the war began in Poland when she was two years old.

“It was December 13, 1981…I was two and a half.” (Sowa 47)

There are many emotional expressions on the characters as well. This scene shows that this book is dealing with the story of war and politics.

2. ‘Breathing Can Be Hazardous To Your Health.’

‘Breathing Can Be Hazardous to Your Health’

This scene shows that a toxic cloud came over Poland. By the toxic cloud, people in the Ukraine get sick and very often end up dying.

“Even though it’s spring, I can’t play outside after school. Besides, there’s no one to play with.” (Sowa 91)

This scene explains how the war affected to her childhood.

3. ‘Goodbye Dolly.’

‘Goodbye Dolly’

In this chapter, Marzi wanted to tell a colorful story to Edyta. So in this scene, there are most vivid moments.

The author added bright red, orange to show that Marzi was telling the colorful story to Edyta.

4. ‘Goodbye Dolly.’

2016-03-30 15.35.41
‘Goodbye Dolly’

This is the last scene of the book that explains why she creates this book and her relationship with Edyta.

“This is where I’ll draw my inspiration from to make Edyta laugh. To protect her from the world of adults as long as I can.” (Sowa 230)

Throughout this book, there were a lot of outstanding scenes which emphasizes the memoir of Marzi. This link is introducing Marzena Sowa and how her life made this book. 


Posted by Shin Jae



“Marzena Sowa | Artist |” Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

Sowa, Marzena, Sylvain Savoia, and Marzena Sowa. Marzi: A Memoir. New York: DC Comics, 2011. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.


Significance of Comic

The narrator depicts herself as a spectator to the life behind the Iron curtain while growing up in Poland in the 1980s. It focuses more on how the climate affects her rather than upon the political environment which differs from other autobiographical comics such as Persepolis written by Marjane Satrapi. Hers is a dismal world which is evident as the book is coloured in unsaturated colours. The memoir paints a vivid picture despite the fact that hers is a country in poverty, politics, and war. What is really the most significant aspect of this memoir is through her relationships we are presented with a picture that likes to compare and contrast with the lives of the readers outside of her world.


In an interview with La Times Sowa was asked about the alienation of being an only child and growing up behind the Iron Curtain. Sowa responded, “As an only child I used to be very attentive to the adult world. I always tried to understand what my parents were whispering between them.  I didn’t have friends to talk about it, so I had to live it by my own. If parents are not strong and peaceful, what image do they give to their child?” Sowa explains further that she “felt what they felt, and maybe even worse, because children can have an extraordinary imagination, and for me the souvenirs of the martial law were not so far away. But as it can be with children, they go from one extreme to another, which are possible thanks to the imagination. I think this is where the memoir represents a universal childhood.”

Here’s a link to the full interview of Marzena Sowa answering questions about Marzi.

The events of life depicted in the comic are arguable that the trials she faced are commonly universal. When you strip the comic down it has more to with the limitations and fears of childhood that any political philosophy.

Posted by Sam



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