Friday, December 19, 2008


As I was browsing through my usual route of webcomics yesterday, I thought about the differences between the bits and bytes I consumed daily compared to the pages of colorful (or perhaps not) images that we read in class. One of my favorite comics that I have read online, that is perhaps the closest to any graphic novel that we have read, is Dr. McNinja. If you're familiar with it, then all I have to say is, "wow, this is so amusing." However, if you're not familar with it, it's a comic based around the adventures of a ninja (part of the McNinja clan) who chose to pursue a medical occupation rather than act as a full-time ninja (much to the dismay of his parents). His fights against raptor-riding banditos (one of which becomes his ward), hulk-esque purple monsters, giant lumberjacks afflicted with "Paul Bunyan disease", and many more fantastical villains only bring you to wonder if the writer is one of the most creative people you'll ever meet, or just one who's been on a bad drug trip.
Anyways, each page always ends with a witty punchline, and an alt-text that appears if you hover your mouse over the image to add a second sometimes wittier punchline. Now, the reason I say Dr. McNinja is the closest to any graphic novel we have read in class is because it is actually made up of pages, with about 40-50 in each volume. There are 11 volumes that are currently written so far (with one or two of them being guest-written volumes). Most other webcomics that you read, like xkcd, smbc, daisyowl, or even Questionable Content don't have storylines, or have ones that are seemingly infinite and have no way to divide them. Although they are certainly a fun read, they're designed for moderated daily consumption, which doesn't always meet the satisfaction of the individual, leading to obsessive consumption from multiple comics (like me).
I have never actually read a Dr. McNinja volume from front to end in one sitting, and I realize that with punchlines occuring every page, and the somewhat slow movement of the plot, these comics would not make very great print comics like Watchmen and V for Vendetta. I think I would certainly get tired of reading a Dr. McNinja volume and probably get frustrated over it too. As I have come to mull these thoughts over, I realize also that webcomics are not too dissimilar from editorial comics, which I have seen print collection copies of. I have read through a Garfield collection or two when I was young, and although amusing, you can only get so much fun out of an orange cat. I think that the writers of these webcomics truly excel at their art, and have generated a wonderful form of comics that I have grown quite the addiction for. However, their art is limited to the slow and moderate daily consumption of web surfers, and most likely not suited to the print world of graphic novels that we have come to be familiar with throughout this course.

This has certainly been an interesting class and I'd like to thank Dr. Hancock for that. I hope everyone enjoys their Winter Break, and here's to the new year ahead as Second Semester Seniors!

-Travis Mui.

The Orange Haired Girl of Jimmy Corrigan

Throughout the last half of Jimmy Corrigan, the orange haired girl has a dominating role in the flashbacks. It seems as if Jimmy has feelings toward her; first feeling "love" and later hatred and jealousy. But, in their first meeting the orange haired girl confesses to Jimmy that she is actually a boy. This does not seem to make any difference in later conversations/actions between the two characters, so would this be important? Is she even a boy?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Medium

Before taking this course, I knew nothing of graphic novels. I figured there was more to them than just comic books, but besides that, I didn't know anything. After reading McCloud's Understanding Comics I learned a lot about the art of graphic novels. I thought they were just words and pictures combined for authors who weren't sure if they wanted to be an artist or a writer, but I quickly learned this was wrong. McCloud's book taught me that the graphics are much more than just pretty pictures to accompany the textual plot, I saw how much emotion and feeling can be captured in an image just by the way the lines are drawn or by adding certain colors. I never thought about how difficult it must be for the artist/author to convey the other senses like smell, sound, and touch in a strictly visual medium. Thanks to this course I have a much better understanding of graphic novels and can truly appreciate how amazing they are; that they can convey every aspect of other mediums such as movies and regular novels, but all combined into one medium.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jimmy Corrigan- a profound read?

During and after reading Jimmy Corrigan I tried to look for meaning in the text.  To me, it seemed like there was no deep story line, just a recounting of uninteresting events in an ordinary man's life.  I do not see what makes this book distinct in terms of provoking thought because there did not seem to be a message.  What I have been taught in terms of literature analysis is that a great book touches on some fundamental aspect of human nature, and I do not believe this was present in Jimmy Corrigan. I do think there were a few significant moments in the book, but these were rare and not as developed as they could have been (i.e. the relationship between the protagonist and his father, which was conveyed well in very few representative panels).  In terms of the word "protagonist", I think Ware did something interesting (but perhaps unwise) by making Jimmy a character whom with it is difficult to sympathize.  Even though Jimmy is supposed to be a "real" character, it almost seems as if he has too many flaws and, arguably more importantly, no significant positive characteristics, to be considered an appropriate representation of human nature.  I would like to add that I believe Jimmy Corrigan is unlike some of the other memoirs we have read, namely Ghost World.  It may be difficult for us to keep this in mind given our age, but Ghost World was one of the first works to provide an authentic perspective of modern (late 20th century) teen angst.  Also, this book portrayed a character that had more facets to her personality than her tough exterior in much less space (in both pictures and words) than Jimmy Corrigan, who was arguably a more simplistic character.  

I think where Ware excelled, as others have mentioned, is in his art style.  He chooses interesting arrangements and interesting ways of depicting ideas (especially the family trees).  I do not, however, think this powerful and presumably meticulous artwork is an excuse for the shortcomings in the text.  I think the book might have been better served without words, so that at least the reader could have a little opportunity to place meaning in the story of Jimmy Corrigan that was watered down by the text.  I think Ware fell victim to an issue I have seen in other graphic novels- too much emphasis on words.  I think some of the best parts of memoir graphic novels (especially Ghost World and Fun Home) are those with minimal/no words.  Ware's artwork is compelling, and I do not appreciate that he often took away from it with an overuse/misuse of words.  I admit that my exploration of the wordless graphic novel genre for my research project likely is influencing my opinion on this subject, so it would be interesting to hear others' opinions.  What do you think?

Is Jimmy Corrigan smart, a kid, or on Earth?

What is the meaning of the title, Jimmy Corrigan: smartest kid on Earth? This has been mentioned before, but so far there hasn’t been a definite answer.

Jimmy’s childhood is rarely mentioned, so we can’t really know if he was a smart kid. As an adult, he doesn’t seem very bright. At the beginning of the book, a man in a superhero costume tells Jimmy’s mother that Jimmy is a very smart kid. However, the man didn’t mean it and seems to be trying to find a way to talk to Jimmy’s mom. In this event, by being quiet Jimmy was rewarded, in contrast to his later life where his silence just makes the situation awkward.

So we can assume that Jimmy wasn’t the smartest kid, and that Ware was being sarcastic when he chose the title. In fact, other parts of the title are also misleading. Much of the story is about Jimmy as an adult, instead of a kid. The title could refer to Jimmy’s grandfather, James Corrigan, but James doesn’t fit the title of being the smartest kid on Earth either.

The part of the title about being on Earth could also be a falsehood. Jimmy spends an incredible amount of time daydreaming, so it doesn’t always seem that he really is on Earth.

I think that Ware chose the title sarcastically, to enforce the generally theme of Jimmy’s depressing life. It could have been that he intended to write a story about a smart kid, since at the end he mentioned that he didn’t really have a plot lined out for the story, but I think that is unlikely.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Watchmen movie ending

Apparently the gigantic telepathic squid at the end of Watchmen won't be present in the movie version. I would argue that it certainly creates a lot more work for the script writer; they have to make sure that this considerable change in the ending doesn't create huge, gaping plot holes in the rest of the film. The squid is such an integral part of the rest of Watchmen, with several scenes hinting at its presence until the dramatic reveal in the ending, that a replacement of it with something else would require dramatic rewriting of the rest of the novel, to the point where it might not even be a true adaptation, but just something inspired by the graphic novel.

On the other hand, you could certainly make the case that it's alright, as long as the ending keeps in line with the spirit of the book (i.e., a weapon of mass destruction being used on a major city to create the impression that the world is under attack by an extraterrrestrial intelligence to prevent all-out nuclear exchange). Which do you believe?

What prevents a comic from being made into a films?

I find it hard to believe that if the author of a comic has doubts about his comic being turn into a film why do it to begin with. In an article I found Alan Moore said “It spoon-feeds us, which has the effect of watering down our collective cultural imagination. It is as if we are freshly hatched birds looking up with our mouths open waiting for Hollywood to feed us more regurgitated worms. The 'Watchmen' film sounds like more regurgitated worms. I for one am sick of worms. Can't we get something else? Perhaps some takeout? Even Chinese worms would be a nice change.” Is this true? Other films like V for Vendetta, which he wrote, turned out to be a huge hit but as he said in the article that he has never seen those films. He also believes Watchmen is unfilmable. But V for Vendetta was a success, but then again others films like Spiderman 3 or the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen were viewed by the public disappointments. Will Watchmen be among them? Then again those movies have supernatural events, which Watchmen has but not much of it the story mostly focuses on the central idea that people don’t need super powers to be evil. Maybe this is why V for Vendetta was a good movie because there weren’t many unexplained, over the top supernatural things happening like on other comic book based movies. My thoughts are that the movie can be done but to a point, and though the plot of the story seems realistic because of the war, fighting , crimes, and heroes with out powers, a reenactment of Mr. Manhattan can be hard to pull. And because Mt. Manhattan is a huge part of the story I don’t think the film will portray him as the comic did and will make the movie unsuccessful.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe that a comic like this can be turned into a film even with its realistic plot about the war and crime?

Link to the article <>
By Alejandro

Understanding Comics: Did it really help us understand?

Looking back on the whole semester, I was trying to remember the many different books that we read and how each one provided a different flavor of graphic novels, which lead me to a very interesting question. Seeing as the first book we read was Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, how crucial were its insights into comics to our understanding and analysis to the other graphic novels we read in the course? Its seemes as though our ability to find modifications in time, space, closure, etc. majorly comes from McCloud's teachings. However, it is all entirely possibly that we would have found the same concepts, just through coincidence. What are your thoughts/responses to this question I ponder myself?

Online Graphic Novels?

Throughout this year, we have read various kinds graphic novels, ranging from comics (Watchmen) to biographies (Persepolis). All of these books have portrayed what Scott McCloud wrote in Understanding Comics. We were able to see how closure was used and how different panel types, use of color, use of form/style and different viewpoints were utilized to make the novels relay the messages that they did. In Watchmen, color helped show the gruesome parts that otherwise wouldn't stand out. In Safe Area Gorazde, the use of facial expression helped convey the emotion that was involved and in some panels, the use of closure let the reader infer what happened next. But there are many other types of graphic novels that we didn't look at. For example, online comics and graphic novels has become very popular and are found all over the internet. And some of them are very unorthodox in terms of style and content. Do you think that we, as a graphic novels class/course, should look into online graphic novels as well as read conventional novels? Or would you rather only look at graphic novels in books?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Who knew...I didn't

After an entire semester of reading comics, I think the one thing that has surprised me the most is how diverse the medium really is. While after reading Maus in sophomore year I thought I had some idea that graphic novels could be about more than superheroes, in retrospect I realize I didn't have a clue. Even after reading McCloud's Understanding Comics, I was really stricken by just the multitude of ways artists could manipulate art, text, panels, story, and everything else that goes into comics.

True, the same can be said for other media like books or movies. However, the fact that comics can pack so much sensory information into a single page which readers can go back and consider is something which I think can't be said for any other medium. While with books you can go and reread things, there isn't much fun at looking at the same words over and over again.

That's my two cents.


The College Essay: Yogurt Edition

What flavor are you?

Chris S. a student at MIT, class of '11, describes the college essay as a fruity snack: "I think the college essay is a lot like froyo. It comes in a variety of flavors, you get to customize it, and experimenting with new flavors either yields blissful joy, or, sometimes, yucky disappointment." 

Aside from offerieng insightful advice on the admission proess, Chris' approach is unique, artistic, and perhaps, delicious. His blog includes various pieces, most notably, the story of the hard working student in the form of, you guessed it, graphic novel. 

When words are not enough...

check this out.

- terence


Comic Book Movies

Hey everyone, so the link goes to an online article posted on I read it and wondered that maybe it's true; especially the Watchmen comment. Since you've read the book, and you know what kind of graphics it contains, do you think the R-rated film will be a success? This is what the author of the article said,

Can Comic Book Movies Turn the Page?

"Watchmen" (March 2009): "The original 'Watchmen' comic book/graphic novel arguably did for that medium what 'The Dark Knight' did for comic-based movies: elevated them from fanboy obsession to serious art form. '300' director Zack Snyder's cinematic version (after nearly two decades of development) is not only reportedly faithful to the source material, but going where no other film about superheroes has gone before -- into the realm of the R rating. Alan Moore's tale -- a sophisticated allegory about power, heroism, totalitarianism and cultural upheaval -- was not intended for children, but will adults flock to see it on the screen? Whatever happens, we'll be watching 'Watchmen' closely to see if it makes the leap from comic book Holy Grail to genuine pop culture blockbuster."

Do you have any thoughts about the other movies the article mentions?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ware is Jimmy?

After the beautiful computer-generated color palate is fully appreciated, Jimmy Corrigan becomes a dry and miserable comic that only serves the purpose to showcasing Chris Ware’s unique style. Ware’s meticulous organization of ideas feels overwhelming at first glance but quickly becomes an appealing aspect of the graphic medium. However, the attention and detail devoted towards the graphic medium cannot overcome the book’s lack of dimension.

I found the Columbian Exposition to be a better portion of the book but it did not redeem Corrigan from his plain loneliness and misery. Yet throughout the book, I was hoping Ware would slowly develop Jimmy into "the smartest kid on earth," only to be disappointed with the inkling notion that it was only Ware's attempt at humor. After deciphering Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, I have to say, for such a big work, it could be put to better use as a booster seat for a small person, that is, if it doesn’t fall apart ahead of time.

Oh, but I must say the inner flap is worth a few minutes – the history of comics is priceless.

Art in graphic novels

In this class, we've studied pieces with vastly different art styles ranging from Maus's more symbolic, sketchy drawings to Ghost World's more realistic ones.

Personally, my favorite is Epileptic's. I admire how David B. creates so much symbolism in his art. For example, for depicting epilepsy, he uses a snake/dragon-like monster that penetrates his brother's body. It really shows how strongly he feels about epilepsy and the state of his brother's disease, and the best thing is that he doesn't mention the correlation between the monster and epilepsy in his text. He leaves it up to us to deduce that metaphoric relationship. Furthermore, when someone is angry or frustrated, he doesn't elaborate on it in the text. He uses art: often, the lines on the character's face become more bold, sketchy and angular. The words and art compliment each other, each one contributing to the story.

In other graphic novels, like Fun Home, the text dominates and the art just doesn't seem to add much to the story. In Ghost World and Watchmen, I feel that it's the color scheme that contributes to the story by creating a mood, not the actual drawings themselves. Or maybe I'm being to critical and unobservant? What do you all think?

Alternative Graphic Novel Choices

Orbiter is a graphic novel I found while conducting my multi-genre project. It is a science fiction novel which tells the story of a lost space shuttle in the not so far away future NASA program. The loss of the shuttle forced NASA to discontinue manned space missions. Miraculously the shuttle reappears in a firey crash with many mysteries surrounding it; like why it has no radiation contamination after spending 10 years in space and why it appears that a skin is coating the ship.

Although the novel read had interesting plot it was a rather short book with only 100 pages and unfortunetly did not have much depth in the plot. The athour used a very realistic drawing style with full color pages; which was themed by dark colors and created a gloomy atmosphere. The boarder sepearting each panel was in black and the majority of the panels are a very personal detailed close perspective drawing.

I think that this style of drawing was similar to watchmen yet completely different due to the color scheme. I would definetly say that the style played a major role in communicating the mood and plot of the novel.

This novel was different from what we have read in class in that it was a sci-fi feature novel yet was still of a similar serious mood as the novels we read. I would have liked to have read a sci-fi style graphic novel in class. After completing my multi genre project I would have particularly have enjoyed a work from the "cyberpunk" genre.

Is there any graphic novel genre you would have found interesting to read?

Multigenre Project: V for Vendetta

Although I admit it was a bit overwhelming, I really enjoyed the Multigenre Project. The open-ended prompt really allowed me to exercise my creativity and draw from my past knowledge of comics. I was able to pursue detailed research about my topic, which I was genuinely interested in. I chose to explore the transition from comic to film for V for Vendetta. And I must say, I've had a lot of fun doing it.

Surprisingly, there are many differences between the comic and the film. For one, the overarching theme in the movie is nothing at all what Alan Moore had intended to convey to his readers through the comic. They were so different that Alan Moore chose to remove his name from the movie credits. In an interview he said, "I've read the screenplay. It's rubbish." Alan Moore definitely wasn't afraid to tell the world what he felt.

Just like V.

When I first watched the movie, it immediately became one of my favorites. I felt that the story was brilliant and inspiring. However, now that I know how much the movie deviated from the comic, I'm not sure what to think. Through the movie, most of the details and ideas in the comic that Alan Moore spent years developing have been lost.

Was creating a film adaptation of the comic really a good idea? Do you feel that the movie did justice to the comic?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Semester Favorites

Throughout the semester, we have studied many different genres of graphic novels. We have focused on line, color, content, artistry, text, and many other topics. We have covered a great deal of information in the realm of graphic novels. Personally, I enjoyed the several of the memoir graphic novels because I was able to relate easier to an author that was trying to explain their story through this artistic medium. I also preferred comics with a more simplistic art style. I felt that when there was too much detail, it often took away from the message that a simpler style could tell just as well. These are just a few of my preferences that I realize when I look back at the semester as a whole.

I was wondering what people's thoughts were on which pieces of the course they particularly enjoyed studying. Now that we're nearly finished, what was the best part?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Multigenre Project

I was wondering what others thought about presenting their research through different genres. Personally, I like the creativity needed for this project. In this graphic novel course, the graphic part is very important to each book. A final paper without a visual aspect, in my opinion, would have been insufficient for this course. Being able to control the visual and written content of my project, and finding a good balance, was crucial to having a decent project.

What do others think of this project and was it better than just a paper?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Symbolism in Jimmy Corrigan

While reading Jimmy Corrigan, I noticed that Ware used a lot of symbolism throughout the book. The symbols that I found that reoccured the most were the robot, the miniature horse, the red bird, and the peach. I understood most of Ware's use of these symbols but others were more puzzling. When using the robot, I believe Ware was trying to symbolize Jimmy's passive life. He lives as if he isn't human by rarely showing any emotions. Because of this, it is hard to figure out what Jimmy is feeling and thinking in certain situations. The red bird is often shown throughout the book as flying freely, so I believe it symbolizes Jimmy's want to live his own life and escape the suffocating hold of his mother. Though I have an idea of why Ware used these two symbols, I have no idea why he used the peach and miniature horse. They both seemed to appear randomly in several of the panels. Does anyone have any ideas?

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Smartest Kid on Earth?

Dear fellow readers,

Throughout Jimmy Corrigan, we were told that he was the smartest kid on Earth. However, we are never really introduced to an event, discussion, or even the slightest hint as to why one would consider him to be epically brilliant. I had a couple ideas as to why Ware would make this statement, but I wanted to know what you guys thought as well.

At first, since this book was written as a stream of consciousness, I assumed that Ware was planning to straight up tell us why Jimmy is the smartest, but was simply taking his sweet time to do so. Then I started thinking that Ware was referring not to the painfully awkward Jimmy that we were coming to know and love, but to his grandfather, the poor boy who just wanted that red haired girl to love him a lil'. After a couple hundred pages, I started thinking that Ware was just trying to make us think a little. You know, make us "active readers", or something. It worked, right? Because right from the beginning (at least in our class), we were all wondering what exactly made Jimmy Corrigan so smart. Now, I think that Ware himself may be a sad man who perhaps used this book as a way to come to terms with his social awkwardness. And perhaps he, too, met a slightly strange woman in his workplace who he felt could save him (that's how I interpreted the ending) and felt that the fact that he had ovecome his strange obsession/fear of woman was something that made his character eligible to be the smartest kid in the world.

One more thing, did anyone else appreciate Ware's style of illustration? It seemed like, although his characters were 20,000 leagues under the sea in depth, he had reduced them to simple icons. There was no shading or three-dimensional attempts to his characters; they all looked exactly as they needed to, with no extra details.

Let me know what you guys think.

Mature Content

I have to say, when I decided to take this course, I knew we would be reading some interesting material. However, I was shocked at the amount of mature content we as high school students were presented with and asked to analyze. My childish views of comics were certainly broadened from amusement to appreciation and respect.

Every book we read this semester either contained extreme violence or nudity--many both. Not to complain, but the multi-genre research project was a relief, for I was able to revisit the innocence and childhood bliss that comes with the Calvin and Hobbes series. I'm glad that even though many comics are extremely serious, I can always turn to that cute little blonde boy and his stuff tiger for a laugh.

View point of the Author

Craig Thompson must be well off financial after his blockbuster Blankets completely sold out in several languages. But his third book, Carnet De Voyage, points out the physical and psychological hardships of being famous. Although the "Sketch book" is not being claimed as Thompson's third book, it shows the power that his publishing company has over his creative ability. In the book he describes his trip to Europe and parts of Africa, as he toured book signings and other Blankets promotionals. Allthough the documentary commic of his trip explains many of the niceties of the trip, the most memerable pages involve complaints with his new sparked fame. In the book we learn that Craig has developed Arthritis already, probably the result of endless hours sketching. Additionaly we learn at the end of the book that the entier jurnal was writen explicetly for publication as mandated by his publication company. As Craig seems to put it, the book will pay the bills till his "third" book is released.

To sum it up, Craig's Carnet De Voyage makes an excelent read for avid fans of the author or people interested in learning what it takes once you are an established author.

Is there any meaning at all behind Jimmy Corrigan

As most of you have probably heard (and if you haven't, you will get it right here), I personally think Jimmy Corrigan was a waste of paper and, more personally, a waste of time. I could not associate with Jimmy at all (in fact, I hate is very existence), the book's style kills any form of suspense or excitement it could have possibly had, and I found absolutely nothing deep when analyzing the book.
I am, however, willing to here other people's opinions. So, my main question is, is there any form of deeper meaning or truth we're suppose to get out of Jimmy Corrigan (besides don't be like Jimmy), or was it just meant to be an entertaining story that failed miserably? I await your answers and insights (hoping that my view is pretty close to the truth).

A Look Back At the Semester

It’s the end of the semester, so I thought I’d take some time to reflect back on my experience in this course. When I first signed up for this class, I had a very narrow perception of comics. My definition of comics generally included typical bright colored superheros, like X-Men or Spider-Man, or humorous Sunday strips, such as Foxtrot or Calvin & Hobbes. Though I was always aware of other artistic styles, such as anime, it never occurred to me just how versatile graphic novels were; they had a tremendous ability to adapt and transform with subject matter and story. For example, with Maus, I was surprised to find that artistic simplicity could convey such a heavy and dense story. At the same time, Safe Area Gorazde manages to successfully tell a story of similar nature with detailed illustrations. Then, there are Epileptic and Fun Home, both of which are autobiographical memoirs. Epileptic utilizes frenzied lines and mythical creatures to express the inner states of its characters, whereas Fun Home remains more realistic and shadows the story with bits and pieces of literary works. Last, there’s Jimmy Corrigan, which is probably one of the strangest comics I have or will ever read. Its panel arrangements and contents, though it made the plot confusing, allowed the story to naturally travel through time.

Of all the reading assignments, Watchmen is probably my favorite; it combines my previous notions of a graphic novels with ideas I learned from the class. For example, it uses an artistic style that is common in all superhero comics. At the same time, its complex plot and extensive use of creative elements like closure, expressionism and synaesthetics, and color introduced the extent of the artistic versatility of graphic novels. In a sense, it bridged my initial understanding of comics with my learnings.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Another book by Spiegelman

Dr.  Hancock lent me a really interesting book by Art Spiegelman called "In the Shadow of No Towers".  It describes the events of the September 11th attacks and how it influenced his career and changed his life.  I was reading it for my genre project and found that he had used a lot of techniques that McCloud mentioned in "Understanding Comics" and it is a pretty interesting story so I encourage all of you guys to check it out.


Saturday, December 6, 2008


For anyone who is interested, this great comic book/ graphic novel is available in the IRC (or will be as soon as I return it. I'm using it for my project.) For anyone who's worried, the movie supposedly adapted from it is nothing like the work itself. The book is about a world where the supervillains have eliminated all the superheroes. Its another take on the superhero genre that blows the stereotypes to shreds (kinda like what Watchmen did, only its much more recent) and as such deserves the two hours of your life it'll take to read in my opinion. Thats two hours for a great book that you can get for free. Take a look when you get a chance. I'll be returning it on Thursday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jimmy Corrigan: A Reflection

My first time reading through Jimmy Corrigan, I was struck by how uninterested I was by the plot. What intrigued me far more than the story itself was the sheer intricacy of the layout and colouring by Ware. Ware employs a style that is nearly foreign to the genre anymore: clean, direct lines. He does not attempt to employ overtly realistic depictions; rather, he allows the symbolic overtones of any given frame convey the descriptive message.

Jimmy Corrigan has won a multitude of awards for this particular style, but two are worth commenting on. The first is the Harvey Special Award for Excellence in Presentation. Ware's meticulous layouts and format allows readers to encompass themselves within the world of Jimmy Corrigan, rather than appear as an outside observer. Each page, including the copyright statements and other production notes, is drafted in a manner that casually or seriously links back to the main plot of the story. This rich linking system is one of the premiere uses of the graphical-literary connections seen before.

The second award worth mentioning was Ware's Guardian First Book Award. This was the first major British literary award given to a graphic novel, and there are very few pieces that could rightfully claim they were more deserving of that honour. What is particularly interesting about this award was that it was given to such an unorthodox piece; Alan Moore's Watchmen was a far more rewarding literary read, in terms of depth and pace of story. That being said, the Guardian's award illustrates a fondness and respect for Ware's ability to tailor the art to the story in an inextractable manner that I have yet to find a match for. The intricacy and attention to detail is superb and worthy of such praise.

What are your thoughts?

Is Jimmy Corrigan REALLY the smartest kid on Earth?

To be honest, I am not very fond of this book. The flashbacks and dreams confused the heck out of me, and I have no idea what the author was thinking when creating this graphic novel.


We're about 3/4 done with this book, and now, it actually is starting to make sense. This book revolves around the relationships between a father and a son. When Jimmy's grandfather was left alone during the fair, I sympathized with him. Hopefully the rest of the book will continue to catch my interest. Can this graphic novel be categorized as an autobiography of Chris Ware, the author? Maybe or maybe not.

Enough of my babbling! Any opinions on this book?

Monday, November 17, 2008

art in "Safe Area Gorazde"

Overall, the drawings in 'Safe Area Gorazde" are complex, and the characters are somewhat realistic. However, the narrator Joe Sacco is the most simplistic character of the book. He almost looks like a cartoon character. He might have chosen to draw it this way to highlight that he is an outsider. Furthermore, according to McCloud, the simpler the character, the easier it is for the readers to relate with him/her. Therefore, we can connect with Sacco, but not the other characters in Gorazde.
In addition, Sacco uses both direct and indirect representation to help us understand what was happening. On page 122 and 123, he showed the child who was hit by an anti-aircraft cannon and many other people suffering. He forced us to see the situation during the attack. But on 111 and 119, he chose to show us the horror through the expressions of the eyewitnesses.

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Watchmen Trailer!

Hey everyone,

The new trailer for Watchmen just got released today on Yahoo Movies. The movie looks really good, and I'm pretty excited about going to see it when it comes out. One of the cool things in the trailer is Rorshach's mask, and how it changes patterns as he moves. I think it would be cool if we arranged for a trip to go see the movie when it comes out.

I also found an interesting article in Yahoo News about a Japanese man who petitioned to be able to marry a comic-book character. ( It's pretty crazy how manga has such a profound an deep-rooted presence in Japanese pop culture. I thought it was pretty funny how the prime minister loved reading manga, but had no time to read them anymore.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fun Little Game

I came across this online, and it reminded me of that panel arrangement activity we did at the beginning of the semester. Enjoy.

Fun Home Irony

I thought it was interesting how Alison and her family call such a morbid place as the funeral home “Fun home” for short. I think this contrast between the outward name of a place and the actual place is a major theme throughout the book. For example, the Bechdel family seems to be a typical family of five living in a beautifully renovated house. However, underneath this façade of contentedness lies a variety of tensions; Alison struggles to understand her father and her own masculine side throughout the book, while her father fights an internal battle against his sexual identity, eventually resulting in a suicide.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Watchmen trailers

I found this trailer of the Watchmen movie today. Note how many of the clips mirror frames in the graphic novel. I also found it interesting how some of the costumes are different, like Laurie's, Dan's, and Veidt's. They're much more spandex-y, perhaps to make the movie seem more modern? Laurie's costume in the graphic novel, though probably risque back in the 80s, isn't too unusual now. Perhaps her new costume is meant to reflect the sex appeal her character is supposed to have. I also noticed that Dan seems rather fit in the trailer; in the comic he looked somewhat overweight. Again, this is probably to appeal to society's traditional views of superheroes. Veidt's costume is very different in color...any reason for this?

The old trailer is here, if anyone hasn't seen it. Some of the scenes are the same as in this newer trailer.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blankets: Pastor Hypocritical?

While reading Blankets I found that on page 518 in the bottom frame the pastor is getting a number from one of the women that seemed to be listening in while Craig the pastor were talking. This at first seemed that she might be trying to "pick up" the pastor because it seemed as though they were trying to keep this exchange a secret because their backs are turned away from Craig and they also had weird smirks on their faces. However, after looking back over it and taking the background information into play I come up with the idea that she might just be giving him her number as a friend for someone to talk to for support. However if it was that they were trying to get together then it would show how the pastor was hypocritical and that the speech that he gave to Craig beforehand was just for show. I was wondering what other people thought.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Master Race

I don't think we ever discussed "Master Race" in class, and I think it's worth discussing.  I thought it was cool how it was sort of told in second person directed at Carl Reissman.  It made it seem kind of like a movie with someone talking/shouting at the screen.  For example, when the narrator said "He's coming toward you, Carl!  Run!  This is your chance! Run!" it seemed kind of like the typical "Don't open that door!" that one might yell when watching a horror movie.  I was also very surprised by the revelation that Reissman commanded the concentration camp.  I initially assumed that Reissman had been imprisoned in the camp, so this really shocked me.  Was anyone else surprised by this, or was it just me?


As one of the people reading Epileptic, my duty this week was Discussion Director. The questions that engage discussion are those that are interpretative or analytical. The reader is supposed to look at the author's work and attempt to fathom its inherent meaning. This is all very well and good. However, upon reading the author interviews, I find that the potential for engaging discussion has been greatly impeded. Every question that surfaces in my (quite inquisitive) mind can be answered directly from David B. himself.

Do the author interviews render the position of Discussion Director as futile?

On a side note, I found it interesting that Persepolis, Blankets, and Epileptic were all published by the same company, L'Association.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Simpsons

The Simpsons had an episode where a cool new comic book shop opened across the street from the Comic Book Guy's store. Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, and Dan Clowes all went to the new shop to book sign. I found it amusing that the first three authors whose works we read all appeared in the same episode.

You can see it here:

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Snowman

One of the possible essay topics is to talk about the children's book, The Snowman. It is recognized as a great work, but most people avoid calling it a comic book. I own a copy and I thought that I'd share with you what it says on the back cover.

"In this wordless tour de force, award-winning illustrator Raymond Briggs uses more than 175 subtly colored, neatly arranged picture frames to tell of a wondrous winter adventure shared by a little boy and a snowman who has magically sprung to life."

Please note the use of "illustrator" instead of "comic book artist" and "picture frames" instead of "panels".


So while reading Percepolis, do you guys have any questions about what we are reading?
If you do, post them on the blog so they can be answered!! To start off, why do you guys think that author's family didn't try to leave after the violence and protesting took a turn for the worse?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Raising more questions than answers

Blankets p.223

The main panel makes me fear for his sanity.

Watchmen analysis

helped clarify a few things for me

Friday, October 3, 2008


Rachel showed me this picture, and I figured everyone would be able to appreciate it. I'm a fan of their character pairings, especially Charlie Brown and Snoopy.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rorshach's sugar?

In Watchmen, Chapter XI on page 3, there are a few panels showing Rorshach eating a sugar cube, then a large panel at the bottom showing it drifting in the wind as they drove away. I was thinking about it, but I can't really see a significance to the sugar cube? I wouldn't think anything of it, except for it's so prominent in that bottom image. Minor plot point, I know, but any thoughts?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

So...turning away from Ghost World...

So I was just wondering, what do you guys think is the best part of Watchmen. The story really doesn't come together until the very end, but I think the most exciting/emotionally satisfying part is when Jon discovers his respect for life, despite his omnipotence. Then the whole novel kind of went downhill. For me at least.COMMENT.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ghost World as a title

We discussed this a bit in class, but what do you all think about the title of Ghost World? What meaning does it hold and what might have made Clowes choose it?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Plot of Ghost World

Once again, my kaleidoscopic brain has once again skipped over a crucial detail. What is the plot of the first five chapters? I can see the plot of chapters six to eight, but not of the chapters preceding them. Can we establish this for me?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Enid and Josh

Do Enid and Josh have sex? I thought they did, but other people disagreed. Maybe, it's purposefully unclear. Please comment and we can find out the class's opinion as a whole.

Ghost World

How many of us have finished Ghost World? Did anyone else find it odd that Enid seems to hate many things or people that have similar beliefs to herself? Is that the sort of conflicted-angstyness that was supposedly thoughout the book?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Comics for Learning?

As I was reading through some of the links on our blog, I got distracted and ended up on the following website: It discusses the work of Sones in 1944. Sixty-four years ago, his studies proved that readers, especially those of "low and middle intelligence levels" learned more with pictures and text than they had with only text. If this happened so long ago, then why (in your opinion) are we just now getting around to implementing 'graphic novels' into our curriculum?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What do you think about this?

When thinking about the definition of Graphic Novels, I found this thought twirling through the quagmire that is my psyche: "Graphic Novels are meant to tell stories caught between a book novel and a film; the use of pictures and words together work to show the reader an idea or image uncatchable by the other two mediums".
Now, I am not saying this is the goal of all Graphic Novels, but it creates a interesting way to look at them; they are the best (and possibly worst) of both the picture world and the language world, creating, evoking, and examining thoughts and ideas otherwise untouchable by art.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blogging 101

This forum gives us the chance to share ideas and information related to the subject of the class. The most effective posts will record an interesting thought and provoke comments from others. As in your other writing for class, be clear and concise; posts can range from a brief paragraph to a mini-essay. I encourage you to take advantage of the online resources available to blogs, including images and links to other relevant pages and sites. You may respond to a text we're reading, explore topics that expand our class discussions, consider a particular theoretical approach, or solicit feedback on research interests. Reviews of other texts, including articles and books of criticism, are fine, but go beyond mere summary to evaluate the work's value and/or claims. Most of all, I want this blog to be what you want it to be; we'll learn from one another by following our interests and passions here. Go ahead—post, read, and comment!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Graphic Novels?

Welcome to our blog for the IMSA English elective "Graphic Novels: Image and Text." Throughout the semester, we'll all contribute posts and comments related to our readings and the content of the course. For starters, I invite you to reflect on the contested term "graphic novel," which is as problematic as it is pervasive. Artist and writer Eddie Campbell discusses the concept in a part-joking, part-serious "Graphic Novel Manifesto," which you can find here.