Replay

A graphic memoir by Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner, recounting his own family story of war, exile and new beginnings.

In 1938, seven-year-old Franzi is separated from his parents when they flee Austria to escape Nazi persecution. 80 years later, his dangerous odyssey as a child refugee through occupied France is movingly recounted and drawn by his son, Jordan Mechner — juxtaposed and interwoven with his own four-decade career creating video games — in a powerful multi-generational tale about the enduring challenge of holding a family together in an unstable world.

First Second Books/Macmillan
320 pages, color, hardcover

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Jordan's award-winning graphic novel memoir

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"The famed video-game designer (Prince of Persia) pivots to personal history in this ambitious but intimate graphic novel. In it, he elegantly interweaves themes of memory and exile with family lore from three generations: a grandfather who fought in World War I; a father who fled Nazi persecution; and his own path as a globe-trotting, game-creating polymath."


The New York Times

"A beautiful, moving graphic novel. Through simple, yet incredibly evocative art and naturalistic dialogue, it examines the universal struggle of balancing living, loving, and finding purpose in one's life. Replay is a masterclass in narrative structure, expertly weaving multiple timelines, creating an emotional experience that is more powerful than its individual tales. I can't recommend it enough."


— Neil Druckmann, co-creator of The Last of Us

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Visit the Replay Annex for Jordan's chapter-by-chapter commentary on the personal and historical events, documentation, and creative process behind Replay.

"Vibrant, poignant... Short but powerful scenes of resilience, loss, and intergenerational connectedness are at the heart of Jordan Mechner's new nonfiction graphic book Replay: Memoir of an Uprooted Family. Though Replay's many twists and turns underscore the pervasive impact of the past, including painful traumas and unbearable losses, the emphasis is ultimately on the connectedness that remains in the present."


NPR

"Jordan Mechner just released a masterpiece—Replay—and it's a graphic novel! I'm still overwhelmed by it. This sensitive autobiographical comic book touched me enormously. Thank you, Jordan, for sharing your story and that of your family."


Eric Chahi, creator of Another World

"Mechner delivers a grand tale of the 20th century on the themes of uprooting and exile. He also offers a fascinating look at the evolution of video games, from the days when a kid could code a worldwide hit in his bedroom, to today's industry when a game mobilizes a team of hundreds of people. Drawing his first comic book (with talent), Jordan Mechner continues to make his mark on the history of the graphic arts, and surprises us with the ambition of a work as universal as the family narratives of Marjane Satrapi or Riad Sattouf."


— Jean-Samuel Kriegk, dBD

"Replay is a masterpiece of a graphic novel. Its structure of interlocking time periods creates juxtapositions that progressively build in emotion, and its ideas are gently yet relentlessly explored and expressed. The art is clear, personal and evocative. Jordan succeeds in making the personal universal and the universal personal. I enjoyed every page, and the experience stayed with me long after I closed the book."


— Boaz Yakin, screenwriter and director (Fresh, Remember the Titans, Aviva)

Rivers of Time


Creating Replay has been an adventure different from anything I've done before. It unites in a new way three crafts and lifelong passions that have animated my work: storytelling, visual art, and history.

Replay is a graphic novel memoir of three generations. It interweaves my father's childhood odyssey as a Jewish refugee in Nazi-occupied France; my grandfather's experience as a teenage soldier on the Russian front in World War I; and my own youth as a videogame-obsessed American kid, from a 1978 Apple II through four decades in the fast-evolving game industry. The games, books, and films I've spent my career making were born out of those formative events.

Replay is my first graphic novel as a "complete author" (meaning I've drawn as well as written it). To make it easy for readers to follow the intersecting storylines, I've used three distinct palettes.

Replay's "blue" timeline covers my career in game development — from programming my first Apple II arcade games as a teenager, through the 1990s and 2000s with ever-bigger teams, budgets, and stakes on The Last Express and The Sands of Time.

Replay's second, "sepia" timeline depicts my dad's childhood flight through occupied France from 1938-41, as he and his young aunt Lisa tried to outrun the rapidly expanding Nazi regime to reunite with their family across the Atlantic. I grew up hearing their stories. Like many second-generation immigrants, I've often felt that the challenges of my own life were undramatic compared to the last generation's heroic survival. Forty years before little Franzi composed the music for his son's Apple II games, he had bigger things to worry about.

This sepia timeline also holds the back story of my dad's odyssey of family separation and reunion. A quarter-century earlier, in 1914, my grandfather saw his own idyllic childhood shattered by World War I. (His hometown of Czernowitz, now in Ukraine, was a thriving Jewish capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.) He was conscripted and sent to the Russian and Italian fronts, where he spent three years in the trenches on the losing side.

Linking both timelines is Replay's third, "yellow" present-day frame, recounting my move to France for a video game project in 2016, as an American with two teenage kids. It's a story of today's game industry, when multimillion-dollar productions involving hundreds of people can be greenlit, morph, change direction, and get cancelled.

I chose the title Replay because it resonates with both the video-game and historical threads of this book. I've often had the sensation that in my life, I'm unintentionally or unconsciously echoing past events. Like my grandfather, I uprooted and resettled my family across the Atlantic — but in the opposite direction, under significantly more favorable circumstances. "Replay" also evokes my mental habit of rehashing past decisions, as if by doing that I might somehow magically undo the past and obtain a better outcome. Which, of course, is only possible in a video game.

If you're a fan of graphic novels, video games, or are interested in twentieth-century history — or all three — I hope Replay will speak to you and resonate on multiple levels. It's the great origin story I've spent my life preparing to tell. I can't wait for you to discover it.

"A gripping and touching family saga that spans the century."


— Guy Delisle, author of Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea

"A meditation on the meaning of family, a theory and practice of video-game design, a haunting exploration of one man's patrimony — how can a single graphic novel contain so many things, and do them all so beautifully? Jordan Mechner's Replay is a wise, deeply moving book that I anticipate revisiting, and rereading, many times."


— Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives

Replay mobile and desktop wallpapers are available to download for free in the Library.

More by Jordan Mechner

Monte Cristo
 

The Making of
Prince of Persia

The Making of
Karateka

Artist Diary:
Year 1 in France