ENGL 300: The Graphic Novel George Mason University (Spring 2011)

3May/11Off

Some online comix

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Saturday Morning

http://fistfulofdeathrays.blogspot.com/?zx=64fe4819dbe461d3

This Is Web Comic that Is published by an old roomate of mine. I knew him when i was drawing comic Books in Atlanta, he Is currently lives in Los Angelos. This comic actually comes with a warning you have to select through.

I Box Publishing(Star Drop)

http://www.iboxpublishing.com/

Mark Oakely was technically discovered by Dave Sim(creator of Cerebus) And The readers of Cerebus. He debuted His First comic--Theives And Kings(Fantasy epic) in an issue of Cerebus. He has been publishing his own work for about 14 years. He is a bit of a comic book purist and is known for making 'wholesome,' child friendly comics that intellectually stimulating enough for adults. He experiments with printed text in many of his comics.

Get your war on

http://www.mnftiu.cc/category/gywo/

Similar in style to 'Hipster Hitler,' 'Get your war on' is satire created right after the US went to war with Afghanistan the first time

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28Apr/11Off

Searching for the Bayou

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For Jeremy Love's Bayou, I found a few different interesting and worthwhile links.

An interview with Love conducted by Publisher's Weekly really caught my attention. In it, Love talks about the benefits of writing specifically online -- he says it's easier to work with surprising the reader. Not only that, Love likes the fact that he can interact with his readers online as well.

And from Graphic Novel Reporter, I found a pretty good review of the novel!

More so than any other, I think this review captures more critical places where the novel shines. The reviewer points out Love's great "ear for dialogue" and "sense of historical perspective." Sure, I appreciated both while reading the novel, but I hadn't really seen it pointed out in any review I read on Amazon or elsewhere.

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21Apr/11Off

Emma Watson, or Hermione Granger?

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I found this article on Twitter today and thought it would be relevant to share with our class. Apparently Emma Watson has dropped out of Brown because she was getting too much heckling for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series.  Sounds a lot like our Tommy Taylor, no? Just shows the relevance of the messages about fame and blurring fact with fiction that The Unwritten discusses.

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21Apr/11Off

Tommy Taylor isn’t Harry Potter, He’s Christopher Milne

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I found this interesting  interview with Mike Carey on Blogtown where he talks about the Unwritten. The interview touches on many things we discussed in class and which is why I chose to share this interview instead of some of the other ones out there. Carey talks about the different forms of media that was used in the book. In class we talked about how Thomas Taylor is the name of the illustrator of the Harry Potter books, well in this interview Carey says who the character Pullman is named after(you're going to have to read the interview to find out who). In the interview Carey also discloses that Harry Potter wasn't the starting point of the book and that Tommy Taylor's character is actually based on Christopher Milne (the son of the author of Winnie the Pooh books). This interview gives a lot of insight into the different parts of the book that we discussed in class.

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20Apr/11Off

The Unwritten Art

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So I went rummaging through Vertigo's blog, Graphic Content, and I found this post about the creative process that goes into making the comic. Looking at these pages, it makes it more incredible to see how the team has to negotiate the lay of each page and make executive decisions about what stays, what gets changes, and what gets cut altogether. It's interesting to find out how they start from  script and work their way up, but I particularly enjoyed the parts that mention the specific details of each panels that you might have missed (or wanted to ignore, i.e. Tommy's Magic Horn hovering above a kid's head). I also thought it was interesting to read about their choice to go with water color for the Tommy Taylor pages, which really makes them stand out from the other pages.  The last paragraph, though rushed, draws attention to Tommy Taylor's look differs from Tom's. I wish there was more detail on that aspect of the book, but it's enough to make one think about how the two character compare and contrast.

12Apr/11Off

Kyle Baker on Copying and Tracing

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Given our own tracing assignment and what we learned about Alison Bechdel's meticulous drawing process, I thought you'd find this recent post by Kyle Baker (remember Nat Turner?) about learning and copying from photographs.

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7Apr/11Off

Well rounded Nate Powell interview

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I also found an interview with Nate Powell featured on tfaw.com for this week. While a lot of the interview is focused on the relationship between the two step-siblings featured in the book and  how people/families handle mental illness, the interview briefly touches on Powell's inspirations (for the novel and in life), his hobbies, and his future plans within the industry.  Powell mentions that his older brother has a developmental disability, and how he had volunteered with the developmentally disabled for many years before writing this book, but he is very clear when he says that he didn't take these things as an inspiration for Swallow Me Whole.

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7Apr/11Off

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Like some of my classmates, I was really captivated by this story's subject matter of schizophrenia, delusions, hallucinations, and the like. I was a little shocked at first to hear that Powell himself doesn't suffer from mental illness, but it made more sense to find out that he had been working with mentally disabled adults for some time. I thought he did a great job at capturing something that so many find impossible to communicate. Since I don't suffer from these conditions myself, I can't attest to whether or not he did them justice. But I can say that I did learn how terrifying, disorienting, and disruptive it can be to suffer from a mental illness.

For my web search, I wanted to find some other pieces of fiction that attempt to do the same thing as Powell did here--fictional accounts of a mental illness or condition that try to give the reader/audience a glimpse at what it's like to live with it. One I kept running in to over and over again in my searches was I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb.  Lamb's novel is supposed to be quite long (most publishings seem to be between 800 and 900 pages) but like Swallow Me Whole, it tells a story of two siblings, one of whom is schizophrenic and the other has his own emotional problems to boot. I imagine if, like me, you were really compelled by Nate Powell's gripping representations of mental illness in Swallow Me Whole, this book by Lamb is worth checking out.

However, the one I've read and can personally vouch for is The Whalestoe Letters by Mark Z. Danielewski. The Whalestoe Letters are actually a part of Danielewski's larger work House of Leaves, which is a trip in and of itself. But the Whalestoe Letters stand alone as a deeply moving account of living with mental illness, and the way illness can affect families. Like Swallow Me Whole, it's also fictional, but somehow Danielewski seems to draw us right into the mind of a seriously disturbed person. It's a short piece (much shorter than Lamb's novel) so look into it if you get a chance. (You can explore it some through the "Look Inside!" feature for free on Amazon, but I don't think this does it total justice).

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6Apr/11Off

Creatively Crazy?

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When I was reading Swallow Me Whole it just reminded me of the connotation or stereotype of those suffering from mental illnesses as having some sort of transient power to converse with this bigger than life artistic inspiration or talent.  Personally I think great art comes from the overcoming of great struggles, but who knows?  Here are two different articles with two viewpoints on the matter:

 

http://www.findingoptimism.com/blog/reviews/art-by-the-famous-mentally-ill/

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-healing-arts/200901/art-and-mental-illness-stop-the-insanity

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31Mar/11Off

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Exit Wounds is the North American graphic novel debut from one of Israel’s best-known cartoonists, Rutu Modan. She has received several awards in Israel and abroad, including the Best Illustrated Children's Book Award from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem four times, Young Artist of the Year by the Israel Ministry of Culture and is a chosen artist of the Israel Cultural Excellence Foundation.

Exit Wounds received praise from comic book artist Joe Sacco, who called it "a profound, richly textured, humane, and unsentimental look at societal malaise and human relationships and that uneasy place where they sometimes intersect." Writing in The New York Times, Douglas Wolk compared her style to that of Herge's Tintin books, "her characters’ body language and facial expressions, rendered in the gestural 'clear line' style of Hergé’s Tintin books, are so precisely observed, they practically tell the story by themselves".

Time magazine's Lev Grossman named it one of the Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2007, ranking it at #8. It also won the 2008 Eisner Award for Best New Graphic Novel.

Wolk, Douglas. Holiday Books - Comics, The New York Times, 2 December 2007.
Grossman, Lev (December 9, 2007). "Top 10 Graphic Novels - 50 Top 10 Lists of 2007". Time. ISSN 0040-718X. http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/top10/article/0,30583,1686204_1686244_1692196,00.html.

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31Mar/11Off

Exit Wounds BEST OF 2007!

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I, myself, wasn't a very big fan of this comic out of all that we have read this semester. I didn't care for the drawing style and the story didn't intreage me much like the others did. When I looked up the comic book online an article popped up saying that this book was rated 5 out of 10 as the best of 2007. I was shocked about that so I opened it up and read a little on it. The short statement that gave the reasoning to why the comic was best of 07 wasn't that insightful I thought. This is what it said, "A quiet exploration of family in the face of Tel Aviv terrorism told through deceptively simple styling. The most “novelistic” of the books on this list. " I realized later that there was a page before that gave more insight to the book and better reasoning and got me to see why this was such a great comic. I guess in the end I'm just not one for modernism.

 


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31Mar/11Off

A blog by Rutu Modan

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I was curious to see what else Rutu Modan had done and my searching led me to a blog she wrote for a while for The New York Times. The blog consists of comic strips that aren't much like Exit Wounds. Most are snapshots of different situations and life and for the most part funny. One that I particularly enjoyed is titled Queen of the Scottish Fairies which tells a story about a young boy who enjoys wearing a skirt. There is something of Fun Home in this, and I found it very funny.

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30Mar/11Off

Rutu Modan Interview

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Here, in an interview conducted by the BBC, Rutu Modan talks about her novel "Exit Wounds." She talks about why she set the book in Tel Aviv and speaks about the inspiration for her  book.  She speaks about how when she was living in Israel, she was dating a boy for a while and then she didn't hear from him in a while and so she thought he was dead. This interview gives a lot of insight to the Israel that Modan was writing about.

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29Mar/11Off

Christopher Robin and Tom Taylor

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As I was researching what inspired Mike Carey to write this comic book and stumbled upon something quite funny. Mike had claimed in his interview with Nicholas Yanes, from Scifipulse.net, that his most important reference point was the autobiography of Christopher Milne. The man who is famous for Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh. On Wiki, it says that Milne had grown up believing that his father took away his childhood from him. So to get revenge he made profit off it by making stories and then giving it back to his father in a way that he was not able to use it. After I read that and looked back at the book I could see how he used that information in his writing. When I tried to find that interview on Scifipulse.net I could not find anything on it, but I did find some information on the newest release of The Unwritten Vol 23. On the page it talks about how great the story is and what it goes into this time for the newest volume. Another review that starred the newest book 4 out of 5 was on CBR (comic book resources). It is a website that writes reviews on all new release comics and then at the bottom tells you when the next ones come out.

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23Mar/11Off

The voices that speak out and the Test

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            I’m not sure why I initially decided to choose her Facebook fan page. I googled her name, and when I came across it, I felt impelled to check it out. Perhaps, it is because Facebook connects so many people. And when I read Fun Home, I think about the lesbian community, specifically their voice, and their beliefs. Since Facebook can bring everybody together, I wanted to hear what people, gay or straight, had to say about Alison Bechdel and her work. On the fanpage, there are some really cool photos of the author at her home. It gives me that same kind of feeling I had when I looked at her house in the novel. I think it’s fascinating to see how strong of an impact this writer has on people. Just check out the posts on her wall.

            I know I’m not supposed to post two online resources, but I think Gender Across the Borders: A global Feminist Blog is a very interesting blog that focuses on the lack of prescence that female characters have in most Hollywood movies. Alison Bechdel created this test that raises a very strong point about the topic. The test asks, “Are there two or more women in the movie who have names, do they talk to each other, and do they talk about things other than men?” These questions make me ask myself how movies don’t provide a real female presence.

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