Reports began circulating last night that Chicago Public Schools has instituted a ban on Marjane Satrapi’s 2000 graphic novel Persepolis. Copies of the book apparently were taken Wednesday afternoon from Lane Tech College Prep High School, one of the oldest, largest schools in the city, as a preamble to a district-wide ban.
ROBOT 6 reached out to the CPS press office this morning and has been promised a response by the end of the day.
Word spread through a post on the parent/teacher news blog CPS Chatter that included a photo of an e-mail (below) from Lane Tech Principal Christopher Dignam to his staff regarding the move. The only reason given was a directive handed down from a regular Chief of Schools meeting held Monday.
Retired CPS teacher Fred Klonsky had more information on his blog, noting a report from one teacher that “News on social media boards yield that CPS is claiming that there was a set of new books sent to schools and the distributor included copies of this one by mistake. Since CPS hadn’t paid for them, schools were asked to pull the books and send them back. ‘a mix-up.’ The books, in fact, were purchased some years ago by an English teacher when she applied (and received) a grant to pay for them.”
The story of Satrapi’s own experience as a young girl living through Iran’s Islamic Revolution, Persepolis has experienced near-universal acclaim, winning, among other awards, the American Library Association’s Alex Award for adult books that have special appeal to teenage readers.
UPDATE (9:46 a.m.): DNAinfo Chicago reports teachers, parents and students are planning a protest this afternoon in response to the graphic novel’s removal. The website spoke to a representative for Pantheon Books, Satrapi’s North American publisher, who noted that Persepolis has never been banned in the United States.
UPDATE 2 (10:38 a.m.): Mayor Rahm Emanuel has told DNAinfo Chicago he’ll “take a look into” the book’s removal.
UPDATE 3 (12:50 p.m.): Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has told principals to disregard the previous directive. However, she’s asked that Persepolis not be taught to seventh-graders.
From Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter comes the sad news that pioneering alternative comix artist Manuel “Spain” Rodriguez passed away this morning. He was 72 years old.
Born in Buffalo, NY, Rodriguez built his early cartooning chops in and around New York City where in the late ’60s he contributed to nationally known underground newspaper The East Village Other. The artist was known for his muscular, inky style which was born out of artistic influences like the EC Comics of Wally Wood and real life ones like Rodriquez’s years riding with biker gang the Road Vultures.
By 1969, the artist had relocated to San Francisco where he joined with foundational underground comix artists like R. Crumb, publishing stories for a bevy of titles put out by Last Gasp Press including Crumb’s Zap Comix and Skull Comics and later contributing to other acclaimed titles including Rip Off Comix and Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor.
Rodriguez was perhaps best known for Trashman – a meaty satirical anti-hero inspired by leftist political and road warrior narratives. Though in his later years, he produced a wide range of non-fiction works including the autobiographical My True Story and Che: A Graphic Biography about the life of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
News of Rodriguez’s death is scarce, apparently circulating via an e-mail to friends and supporters. In honor of his passing, The Comics Journal is representing some classic stories with the artist including a 1998 interview with his sometimes publisher Gary Groth and a profile written in April of this year to celebrate his latest release Crusin With The Hound.