Monday, December 8, 2008

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.

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