Marzi: A Memoir by Marzena Sowa & Sylvain Savoia

Marzi: A Memoir
by Marzena Sowa & Sylvain Savoia
Vertigo, 2011

A recreation of life in Poland in the late Eighties during the collapse of communism from the point of view of Marzi, a vivacious and robustly imaginative ten-year-old girl. Life in her small industrial town is constrained from afar by both political and religious ideology, but Sowa shares Bill (Calvin & Hobbes) Watterson’s gift of being a good storyteller and extremely in touch with her own mindset when she was a child. The result is a lengthy book full of vivid anecdotes which builds into a satisfying whole.

The artwork by Savoia is excellent as well, mostly brown and grey with splashes of colour provided by Marzi’s red hair and cardigan. Her big eyes are constantly widened in panic, mostly from the prospect of imminent adult retribution from whatever she’s just been caught doing. After the dramatic (but fortunately non-violent) fall of Poland’s communist regime, Marzi is somewhat chagrined to find that life continues largely as before, with fewer shortages but the usual embarrassments of childhood.

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