Frame Usage in Essex County Book Two and Persepolis

A more typical page from Essex County

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Essex County, specifically Book Two: Ghost Stories, by Jeff Lemire are two popular graphic novels that use similar and different frame techniques to help tell their stories.  To begin the overall feel of Persepolis is very congruent and predictable.  All of the frames feel as if they are from the same story and flow very well together, which makes reading it very easy.  Most frames are about the same size, although at times, just one or two frames utilize the entire page.  Essex County, on the other hand, has frames that are somewhat unpredictable.  However, the frames still flow very well and feel like it is one story.  It is a little bit more interesting to read, though, because the frames are more intriguing and mixed up more.  Also, more is said with pictures and there is just less dialogue, while Persepolis focuses more on text (the pictures say a lot too, though).

A more typical page from Persepolis

     One difference in frames between the two graphic novels is the size.  It appears that on average, Essex County Book Two has about 4 frames on each page while Persepolis has about 6 or 7 on each page.  In addition to the size, Persepolis uses much more squared and typical looking frames.  They appear to be more symmetrical and even with one another.  On the other hand, Essex County uses much more unusual frames.  Many frames are in the shape of rectangles rather than squares.  In fact, some pages do not even have any frames!  In other pages, some pictures actually go out of the frame and are used as a background for the rest of the page.  Also, most pages do no feel symmetrical.  On average, the frames in Essex County are bigger than the frames in Persepolis.  In addition, Essex County utilizes the space in the frames very differently from Persepolis.  Many of Essex County’s frames only have one person in the frame while Persepolis has 2 or more people in many of the frames.  Overall, their appears to be much more going on in the frames of Persepolis, while ideas and concepts are spread out more in Essex County.

A page without a frame in Essex County

A picture out of the frame in Essex County

A one page frame in Essex County
A one page frame in Persepolis

Although there are many differences between the frame usage in Persepolis and Essex County Book Two, there are also some similarities too.  One similarity between the two graphic novels is the use of full page frames.  However, Essex County uses this technique much more than Persepolis.  Another similarity is that the pictures in the frames are drawn in black and white.  This is an interesting technique and allows the reader to better associate themselves with a drawn picture.  Overall, these two graphic novels use similar and different techniques to display their stories.


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