By Dustin Cabeal
Reading the description for Marzi is a cheat. It tells you too much, and that spoils the journey that Marzi takes you on in this first volume. First and foremost, don’t read the description, but do read Marzi.
The story is a series of short stories narrated from the point of view of Marzi the title character. She’s a little girl Polish girl growing up during the height of communism. That’s important to point out since there are several stories about waiting in long lines to get a particular food that’s become available or a carp for Christmas.
The narration for the stories is simple and yet very effective. It really is as if a seven-year-old girl is telling her stories to you after the fact. Like a diary, but without the announce that comes with diary style stories thanks to the Wimpy Kid line of books. What the narration doesn’t cover or show, the artwork cover. That is why it’s so effective because art and story are working hand in hand to express everything we need to know.
As I said, the narration is simple. It’s from the perspective of a young girl’s eyes, but the artwork gives us a look back from the eyes of an adult. Showing the lines, the cold, the oppressive rule that everyone is subject to without it being overbearing to the story. There’s a balance between what was known then and what was known after, but what the creators have done is find a brilliant way to show both, without either being dominating.
What struck me the most was the sense of family that the story captures. Marzi may not love all the members of her family, she is a kid after all, but the author shows how much Marzi’s family is a part of her life and how they stick together. With there being six more volumes I can only imagine that this is foreshadowing something ominous.
Something else the story captured, whether it was the point or not, was a bygone era of childhood. Every generation more and more freedoms of childhood seem to be lost, but it isn’t until you have a story like Marzi in which you can look back and see what has been lost as the world develops and changes. Jeez… I must be getting old.
At any rate, I’ll be looking forward to future volumes of Marzi being translated. This first volume started off slow, but soon after the first tale, I was captivated by the setting and the characters of the story. There is a classic charm to Marzi that you don’t see enough in comics/graphic novels. Even more, it’s a true all ages story that kids old enough to read, could enjoy and understand; while adults like myself pull completely different meanings and experiences from the reading. If you need a break from the grim and gritty superhero world, then make Marzi your escape.
Marzi vol. 1 – Little Carp
Writer: Marzena Sowa
Artist: Sylvain Savoia
Publisher: Europe Comics