ABSTRACT

The article focuses on The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain (Peter Sís, 2007) and Marzi (Sylvain Savoia and Marzena Sowa, 2004–2017), two widely translated autobiographical comics written in English and French, respectively, as an entry point into the afterlives of European state socialisms in global contexts. The author examines how Sís, a Czech-born illustrator and children book author, who defected to the United States, and Sowa, a Polish-born writer who left for France, remember their lives under state socialism, and how they make them legible to present-day transgenerational and transnational audiences. The author explores how comics, specifically the seriality, multimodality, and the meanings created at the intersection of texts and images, undermine the cultural scripts which inform the narratives of these two diasporic artists. By focusing on paratextual elements, the author also demonstrates that the transnational trajectories of the two works are path-dependent on mainstream tropes about state socialism. Lastly, given that the two comics feature internationally in school curricula and are adopted by teachers as important methodological tools, the author argues for the crucial importance of comics and life writing pedagogy when teaching graphic autobiographies about post/socialism.

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