Monday, December 21, 2009

Final Reflection of the Semester

To say that having been in this course was an enriching experience would be a severe understatement. Before entering Graphic Novels, I had never truly opened a graphic novel before. Sure, I had frolicked with some comics as a child; Batman was my favorite, and Spiderman’s climbing prowess was quite impressive, as well. However, I was blown away by the different works we studied from the start. Beginning with Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, I realized that graphic novels did not necessarily include superheroes or excessive amounts of onomatopoeia (this seemingly na├»ve revelation is justified, as I had no prior experience in this area of study). I found appreciation even in Ghost World, my least favorite comic (for its constant use of profanity and overpowering sense of teenage angst), because it implemented different camera lengths and conveyed powerful messages. I learned not only to analyze works from the perspective of an author, but with the eyes of an artist; not only with the desire to create a page, but with an undying enthusiasm for a single panel. Watchmen was the crown jewel of the course; its intricate illustrations and various moral dilemmas made it very difficult not to fall immediately in love with the novel. My personal favorite was the work studied in my Literature Circle group. Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis captivated my interest because it detailed the path of an intelligent and independent girl who tastes life’s numerous hardships at a tender age and point in Iran’s history. Overall, this course has opened my eyes to the wide variety of media and has caused for me to synthesize my past knowledge with a newfound appreciation for the visual arts.

-Amishi Bajaj

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Post of the Semester

One thing that I learned from Graphic Novels that will remain with me for the remainder of my life is the wordless graphic novel. When we first received The Arrival by Shaun Tan, I was hooked. The beautiful illustrations and poignant storyline made a deep first impression on me. In many ways reading wordless graphic novels is not only more challenging but also more enjoyable than traditional comics. Without words, only the right-brain, your artistic and emotional side is engaged, and as a result the grinding burden of rational thought is lifted from your shoulders and the reading experience is one of floating gently through the sublime stream of characters intertwining and interacting, weaving the tapestry of canon in a very different way from traditional prose. That's not to imply that wordless graphic novels are easier to read than normal graphic novels or books though. The fact that they have no words doubles the importance of paying attention to the small details in not only the illustration of the panel itself, but also the arrangement of the panels, the panel in context of its surroundings, transitions and closure between panels, and all the elements which validate the colloquialism "a picture is worth a thousand words."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Review of the Semester

Before this semester, I had never even opened up a graphic novel. Apparently, I had been missing out. This semester has opened my mind to how great comic books can be. I absolutely loved reading Understanding Comics, Arrival, Maus I and II, Blankets, Watchmen, and Ghost World. They were all very different from each other, but of course that allowed each of them to bring something different to my thoughts. I think my favorite graphic novel from the semester has been Watchmen. Blankets is close behind because of how easy it is to relate to the comic as a whole. Craig Thompson has a way with making readers feel for him, and understand what he has gone through, even if the reader has not gone through the same situations. I am so glad that I was able to do my multigenre research project on Craig Thompson's works. There was a different tone to each graphic novel. Carnet De Voyage had many humorous parts. I am definitely going to read Thompson's next work once it is completed. Hopefully libraries near me will have a more extensive graphic novels section than now. It's been a great semester.
- Jackie Tusack