The Graphic Novel George Mason University

13Dec/09Off

http://fistfightatthearthouse.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/random-comic-review-the-last-christmas/
I could not stop laughing at the enthusiasm and accuracy in the delivery of this review. I'm so happy I have this comic / have outstanding Godparents who know me so well. Don't know whether it's the best comic to teach, but... as far as graphic novel combos go, santa and the undead go together like strawberries and cream.

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10Dec/09Off

Respondents-Favorites

So, like others before me, I will elect to do the favorites things. Here it goes, ranked from favorite to least:

1) Watchmen- Had to put this as number one, just a life long favorite of mine. I Just love how it flips our perception of the 'super hero' around in a very intelligent and deliberate way.

2) Batman: The Dark Knight Returns- Anything Frank Miller deserves to be near the top of any list. I just loved the brutality this was drawn in and what it brought to the Batman franchise. The story of the aging vigilante battling his inner demons, a sensational use of color, and a splash of Joker = awesome.

3)Jimmy Corrigan: The smartest Kid on Earth- What brought a lot of people to dislike this novel is what made me love it. Sure, it was a tad difficult to read, but for me, being that way made me read this a lot closer and get more out of it. There was such awkwardness and despair in this story and I found it fascinating. Believe it or not, I actually felt a small connection with Jimmy (odd, I know).

4) Uzumaki- I'm not a huge fan of manga, but this story was just chilling. There was tons of symbolism here that made it so much more than just your typical horror novel. Loved the grotesque obsession with spirals, which in turn kind of made me rethink my perception of spirals.

5)Maus- I thought the retelling of this horrific time with mice, cats, pigs and dogs was brilliant and I can understand why this won so much critical acclaim. The theme of family history and trials one much make to keep that together was moving. The simple artwork said a lot without a lot of detail.

6) In My Darkest Hour- Maybe something is wrong with me, but I didn't find this as disturbing as everyone else thought. I just found the main character and his struggles annoying. I do though, find the artwork stunning.

7)Persepolis- Much like Maus, I though the simplistic artwork/drawing said a lot without extreme mastership/detail. It was really interesting to see a young girl's journey to adulthood in lieu of a country exploding from within. Not really what I go for in a graphic novel though.

8)Fun Home- I feel like this story got lost in its own narrative. There was just so many references to books I've never read that I was thoroughly confused at some parts. After analyzing this front to back for my presentation I quickly got sick of it. Still, the drawing is extremely detailed with little use of color (One of its few attractive qualities)

9) American Born Chinese- Being at the bottom doesn't make it a terrible graphic novel, it just really wasn't my thing. I found it boring, too short and sort of childish. There were a few bright spots though, I Liked the bright coloring and thought the main character's struggle with his own race was interesting. Still, I intend on selling my copy of this somehow.

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10Dec/09Off

A Respons-ish Favorites List

So, I totally wasn’t going to write a favorite’s list… but I feel that I must defend the honor of IMDH.  Plus, I'm unoriginal.

1 – In My Darkest Hour – Where do I begin?  Omar is the perfect main character, because we love to hate him so much, and in the end, at least for me, we’re glad to see that some progress might be being made toward his redemption.  I guess the sheer morbidity of the book speaks to me, the futile struggles against attackers that are both readily apparent and not, but there’s also an aspect of karma inherent to Omar.  I have to stop before this entire post is consumed by my gushing for this novel.

2 – Jimmy Corrigan – Chandra you’re not alone.  The poetry that exists in Jimmy Corrigan isn’t always elegant, sometimes it’s not even beautiful, but it’s still powerful.  The impotency of the wordless panels coupled with the scripted beauty of those poetic moments forms an extremely evocative duality.  Besides, that page delineating the relation between Jimmy and his sis is the definition of Graphic Novel.

3 – Fun Home – I’m not quite sure why I feel so connected to Fun Home… maybe for its honesty and its quirky humor.  It obviously offers incredible insights on family life and relationships, but I find it extremely more interesting what Prof. Sample noted in class:  even after reading the novel we get little to no sense of Bechdel’s real personality.  Instead we get the iconographic persona… her struggles seem more real to me because of that, I suppose.

 4 – DKR – I never really appreciated Batman, this book remedied that.  I guess I felt that in other instances, Batman was more superhuman than human, and here I feel that that balance is shifted, and it makes him more relatable to me, as a non-superhero.  Hmm… there’s some sort of uncanny valley-esque relationship here, but I can’t quite grasp it.

 5 – American Born Chinese – The Monkey King.  If this novel were more devoted to a Journey West, and then related to a modern context, it would probably be at the top of this list … well, maybe second.  The Monkey King as a character is extremely intriguing, and how his rebellion shaped his destiny is extremely inspiring.  Also the art is nostalgic for me… and the deception inherent within this simply packaged comic that packs such a complex message is wonderful.

 6 – Maus – The juxtaposition of Art’s relationship to his father and his father’s own struggle makes this immediately more relatable than any other Holocaust story.  It’s a huge gap to bridge for me to imagine what it may have been like to survive the Holocaust, but reading about Art surviving the survivor makes it much more plausible and real.

 7 – Watchmen – The only character I identify with is Rorschach, which I imagine to be typical but I could be wrong.  To be honest, I’m surprised I didn’t like this more – to me, Nite Owl’s impotent paralysis is not as real as Omar’s, or as endearing as Jimmy’s.  Dr. Manhattan and the Silk Spectre are cowards, not to mention her naiveté, and Ozy is a megalomaniacal ass who takes the easy way out.  Rorschach may be paranoid and fighting a losing battle, but at least he fights.  And the alien ending… really?!

 8 – Persepolis – I liked Satrapi better when she was a child who just naturally assumed she was God’s Chosen.  The rebellion of Bechdel and the Monkey King are here and the strength and humanity of Batman… but I never felt as connected.

 9 – Uzumaki – Just not a fan of horror in general… more terrifying to me is the dystopia of Watchmen and Ozy’s ultimatum, or Omar’s paralysis and his inability to master himself.  IMDH is truly terrifying because we see the grotesque depths of a human soul, whereas Uzumaki seems more about the spectacle of those depths.  How to describe it… where Uzumaki is a haunted house, a façade of fear, IMDH is walking alone in the dark as a child – the real terror that resides constantly in the human heart and mind.

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10Dec/09Off

Respondents: Favorites

Not sure where the original posting of the favorites was, but I like reading other people's rankings and now I feel like jumping on the bandwagon, so here's my list: (9 the least favorite, #1 is, well #1)

9

In my Darkest Hour

Literally, the entire graphic novel eluded me. I missed the past of sexual abuse, his moments of reflection and his moments of reality. The only thing I grasped on first reading was the intriguing style of art. I felt pretty sheepish in class when the true subject matter was being discussed. I had to read the novel again. Still, I think I have a mental block on Santiago's method.

8.

Uzumaki

Hm, manga is something new to me. I read a few Sailor Moons when I was younger, but honestly thought it was some extreme coloring book when I was 7 years old. So, I colored my Sailor Moons, put them in a box when I was done, and haven't really looked at manga since. Uzumaki either made me gag with grotesque imagery (especially snippets from the 2nd and 3rd books that people brought in) or it made me laugh. The "scary" spirals? Mmhmm.

7.

Jimmy Corrigan

I feel bad for having this so close to the least favorite. I really understand Ware's graphic novel to be a work of art. And I should give it more credit, because I rarely sympathize with characters when reading, yet when Jimmy's sister pushes him in the Dr's after the news of their father, with a vicious "Get away from me!" I actually got teary-eyed. I don't like crying from a book, so maybe that's why it's up at #8, although I do like the fact that there is a book that could make me cry.

6.

Fun Home

You know what it is, I have too many favorites, these aren't really my least favorite, they just lose a little on the competitive favorited. I liked Fun Home for its dry humor. As an English major with Modern British Literature as my concentration, I loved understanding most to all of the literary references. I saw so many parallels, contradictions and symbolism in Bechdel's neurotic depiction.

5.

Batman

Never was one for D.C. comics. The most excitement I got from a D.C. hero was the xbox360 game, Mortal Kombat v. D.C. Universe.

4.

American Born Chinese

I haven't had to read a young adult book in a long time. I think the bright colors, shiny pages, cute characters (MONKEY and Chin-kee) attracted my inner child more than my brain.

3.

Maus

Absolutely loved Maus. Couldn't understand why he changed the art though. The non-published version looked cartoony to many, maybe that's why Spiegelman didn't pick it, but to me it was much more real. I understand the stark look of the style he did choose. I also loved this was a true story. After hearing the tape of his father, actually on the bike, made me appreciate the genuine dedication Spiegelman put into his ever-resourceful father.

2.

Persepolis

My first reuniting with Graphic Novels since color-book-Sailor Moon. haha. I read this for Islam Studies a couple semesters ago and was so obsessed with the story (and my infatuation for the Middle East regardless), I got the movie. I love Satrapi's style.

1.

Watchmen

Alan Moore is AMAZING. Bob Dylan, Deism worked so seamlessly into a fantastic comic?  I was obsessed with nearly every page. What to say....every panel became my new favorite. Favorites rarely can be justified; that's how you know you love them.

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10Dec/09Off

Respondent: Favorites List

1. Uzumaki
I like manga so Uzumaki was bound to rank high for my list but it was more than that. Uzumaki has a dark mood that slowly smoothers you. The images are striking in all of their gory detail and the book throws things at me that I have seen before (Shuichi's dad rolled up in the tub). What can I say, the spiral drew me in.

2. Watchmen

The colors are bold and the characters are doubly. I loved the way Watchmen brought the superhero down to our level and rolled it in the mud. Also it was really fun picking out all of those little details that seemed to pop up everywhere. The only thing keeping this from number 1 was the ending, it just sort of deflates there.

3. Fun Home

When I first started my list Fun Home was further down but it crept up. Out of all of biography types of graphic novels we read, I really liked Fun Home the best. I think the way it was not entirely in chronological order made it stand out. Bechdel created this more like a flow of consciousness that while terrible in Jimmy Corrigan was pulled off well here. Interesting characters and attention to detail round out the reasons I liked this.

4. Dark Knight

Female Robin. End Post.

Seriously though the Dark Knight visually was stunning with all of the water colors creating a very muddy and dirty Gotham. The storyline was much more mature than your average Batman, and seeing Superman shriveled up like a raisin made my day.

5. American Born Chinese

The artwork for ABC was very clean and simple. I felt like I was reading something the vein of the TV shows like Dexter's Lab during the monkey king parts. This was a good thing. Chinky made my day when he was first introduced and I loved how honestly stereotypical he was (which turned out to be a major part of the plot). An interesting story with moral to it rounded this book out.

6. Maus

The story was the major driving point in Maus. I found Vladek's story captivating in its honesty and detail. The art for Maus would have to be its week point. I liked the few visual easter eggs (like the swastika road), but there just were not enough of them. The characters looked blain and that may have been intentional but it often made it difficult to tell who was who.

7. Persepolis

As with Maus the story was the major driving point for this well, but unlike Maus it was not as compelling. Marjane's story really starts to drag its heels when she goes to Europe and though it picks up when she comes home I don't think it ever recaptures the interest I had at the beginning. There are even less visual easter eggs than Maus and the art did not even have the novelty of critter people to make it standout.

8. Jimmy Corrigan

Ugh

Ok I know this was suppose to simulate the confusion of the main character but you know what? Confusion is not pleasant and I really don't feel like going through a confusing book. I would not have finished this if it were not for class. The main character is also about as unlikeable as you can get, and in a confusing bunch of whatever for a story, a compelling main character could have kept me anchored but no. Jimmy alienated himself from me like few characters have. By the end of the story I was praying for him to spontaneously explode.

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10Dec/09Off

Respondant to “A Tragedy Off Your Chest”

I take slight issue with Bechdel's determination that "Fun Home" is a tragedy. While reading it, there was something about the story that I couldn't quite peg, but kept me from really considering it a tragedy. After we watched the interviews with her in class, however, it became clear to me what that issue was. In the story, Bechdel (as the main character, moreso than as the writer, and even less so as the artist) never truly expresses saddness; rather she spends the story circling the drain of melancholia. In order to be a tragedy, something truly tragic must happen, and she just never truly convinces me that her father's death affected her. Upon seeing the interviews with her, I realize that that is because of her general disposition, which has her displaying a very limited range of emotion. Without access to this point of reference while reading "Fun Home," the standalone story is hard to catagorize as a true 'tragedy.' As the main character, Bechdel is very passive, unlike Marjane Satrapi of Persepolis, who tends to overreact in an animated fashion. As the writer of the story, however, Bechdel offer's an almost mechanical analysis that is peppered with references; the powerful feelings associated with the characters from those references allows her to express a wider range of emotion than her character is typically capable of. Also, as an artist, her painstaking attention to detail fits perfectly with the melancholic; the clean lines and complex detail sanitizes the appearance of her world. However, it is the art where Bechdel expresses a fuller ranger of emotion, as the attention to detail shows her loving passion for the history that she captures in the graphic novel. Ultimately, as a standalone story, "Fun Home," simply can not stand up as its own tragedy; the beauty of the graphic novel medium, however, is that through the artwork we have access to other means of interpreting the story. I daresay that even with all things considered, Bechdel's story is simply not dynamic enough to be truly called 'a tragedy.'

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8Dec/09Off

Interview with Junji Ito

I found this interview very interesting because it gave some insight not only into Uzumaki itself, but also Horror Manga as a genre as well as a bit more information on Junji Ito's views/idea of horror manga

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8Dec/09Off

First Reader-Alison and Bruce’s Awkward Connection

Towards the end of the novel, when Alison is in college, she and her dad strike up this quasi-relationship built on their mutual interest (or, his interest and her assignment) of a number of popular novels. This"relationship" struck me as very odd. In fact, I put "relationship" in quotation marks because I'm not sure if that's what you'd call it.

As Alison grew up, she and her dad had nothing in common. He wanted her to dress a certain way she didn't like, she hated his hyper-controlling nature that loomed over the house. They would later find out that they had a connection of sorts in both being homosexuals, but that didn't prove to be something they really grasped at to strengthen their relationship. So, they bonded (sorta) over books. Even during this bonding, Bruce continues to be the over-bearing father ("You damn well better identify with every page"). Alison continues to feel oppressed by his controlling ways ("His excitement left little room for my own...by the end of the year I was suffocating"). 

Even during this newfound connection that bridged (you know, one of those shaky, rope bridges over top of a lava pit) the huge gap that was Ali and Bruce's relationship, their foundation as father and daughter never really changed.

Respondents: Do you think there was ever a chance for Alison and Dad? Does anyone believe that there was more of an emotional connection during this period...something I missed?

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8Dec/09Off

Respondent to: Fun Home (2nd Week)

I have to say that I disagree with your perception of Fun Home.  As an avaricious reader, not only do I welcome lofty literary references, but I don't mind, no, enjoy finding out about new writers and books through references made in whatever material I'm digesting.  I'm also an English major, so I fit into your imagined demographic of who would like this book. I don't think that Bechdel used these references superficially, every reference had a purpose within the story. The Importance of Being Earnest is glaringly symbolic in regards to her father's secret life. The Albert Camus references are integral to dissecting the anatomy of suicide. I don't think the author went in circles in her repeated anaylsis. I don't think that she could concretely say who her father was and what he intended the day that he stepped in front of that Sunbeam truck. I think that her perception probably changes everytime she runs the memories through her head, it's never the same story twice. She's examining the fluid quality of her memories, what she recalls versus what she wrote in her diary, her memories of her father and her mother's revelations. Bechdel won me over with her courageous honesty and sense of humor. She is more "real" to me than the other authors and auto-biographies that we explored in this course. The list as requested:

Favorite: Jimmy Corrigan- This has become one of my favorite books I have ever read. The language is absolute poetry, go back and check out  the segment of his grandfather (as young Jimmy) snuffing out his oil lamp at bedtime, or the part where he askes his mother if she'll recognize him in Heaven. I LOVE how all the components wrap up together, and the ending is perfect. Yes, I said it. Perfect. (I'm pretty sure I am totally alone on this one.)

2. Maus- the story just doesn't let you go, and the author's conflict with his father is relatable to anyone with parents.

3. Fun Home- see above

4. Watchmen- Loved the art, the story, the twist at the end, the alternate history/reality, loved Rorschach. I think this needs to be judged on it's own merits, completely aside from the movie.

5. Uzumaki- remarkably original, genuinely creepy and I loved the artwork. I had never read manga before reading this and I'm actually checking out horror manga now.

6. The Dark Knight Returns- This got me into superhero comics/graphic novels. I loved the grit and I'm a sucker for anti-heroes, so I loved Frank Miller's portrayal of Batman ("the goddamn Batman".) I agree, the artwork is  beautiful.

7. In My Darkest Hour- I liked this because it actually drew me in despite the fact that I loathed the main character. I was fascinated by what a cockroach Omar is and I thought the story was told in an interesting way- hints being dropped through emails, notes, photographs. I like bizarre, original, artwork so I appreciated the grotesque collages. I didn't find the story non-sensical at all, I think it follows a  linear path.

8. American Born Chinese- this book is totally entertaining and a fun read, but I don't feel that Yang is making any unique or interesting statements about race and identity. Actually, the book is completely one-dimensional; rejecting your cultural identity is bad, it's better to just be yourself. Nothing groundbreaking there. As I've mentioned before on Twitter, does race= cultural identity? The author seems to think so, which is pretty insulting. And there are only Asian and white kids at this school?? I would like to know how African Americans and Jewish people fit into the statements and assumptions being made in this book. I'm also not huge on Christian imagery, and the author seems to jam it into the readers face at the expense of the storyline.

9. The Complete Persepolis- this book is just a tedious read. Young Marjane is a bratty, entitled, know-it-all who transitions into a self-satisfied adult. I'm not saying the story is without value, I knew virtually nothing about this period in Iran's history before reading the book. I have since added Waltzing with Bashir to my Netflix list.

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8Dec/09Off

A Tragedy Off Your Chest

“A Family Tragicomic” is definitely the proper title for Bechdel’s memoir. It is a fascinating journey of speculation from beginning to end. It is best described as a tragedy because Bechdel describes not only her own journey, but the presumed journey of her father as he comes to terms with his own sexuality, growing up in a time when such a thing was not talked about in a public forum. Bechdel uses the text and visuals in a very effective manner, allowing the two elements to speak to one another. On page 191 specifically, Bechdel describes the time where her and her father attend A Chorus Line. In the visuals, her and her father are depicted sitting next to each other, wide eyed and attentive to the play as one of the characters says, “One day I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “You’re fourteen years old and you’re a faggot. What are you going to do with your life?” In this next panel, Bechdel’s own narrative dialogue reads, “I did not draw a conscious parallel to my own sexuality, much less to my father’s.” Again, the visuals depict Bechdel and her father with the same wide eyed look, their gazes paralleling each other as if they are sharing a moment together of coming to terms with their sexualities. These visuals and the narrative shows how Bechdel seems to have a better relationship with her father than might have been presumed in the previous chapters. It shows how on some higher level, almost a spiritual one is where Bechdel has a more stable relationship with her father. The tragedy is that his lifestyle seems to lead to his death, leaving Bechdel to only ponder and speculate on what could have been. The novel no doubt seems to read as one possessing a therapeutic nature, as writing about a traumatic family experience helps put the past to rest by exposing a deep secret. Thus, it not only becomes Bechdel’s burden but the whole worlds to share in.

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8Dec/09Off

First reader/ Respondent Fun Home (week15) -Alexa

Responding to Nathalie’s question if Fun Home could function as a straight up novel? I think it could. I thought the text she wrote, as well as the dictionary definitions, letters, and maps could have been displayed in a novel and it wouldn’t have changed their effect. I found most of the images being secondary to the text- which hasn’t been the case with other texts we’ve come across this semester in Eng493. The inclusion of so many literary, textual references could have worked in a novel as well.  Most of the images throughout Fun Home could have been easily depicted with vivid imagery. If it was a novel, I probably would have imagined her dad as being way more handsome than Robert Redford, even thought he looked pretty attractive in the picture we saw in the clip online and he looked dorky and creepy in the graphic novel. Whatever.

As to why it’s #1 in Time…maybe it’s seen as being original because she’s telling such a unique and crazy story. How many families do you know work with a funeral home (although it’s such a small part of the plot…at least to me) and have a mostly closeted gay dad and a lesbian daughter? I guess that makes it unique. I don’t know if it was the first…only….last graphic novel written by a lesbian about her own life, but I’m pretty sure there aren’t a lot of graphic novels like these. I guess it tests the norms of graphic novels. Maybe that’s the reason Fun Home was so widely recognized. It also tests the norms of graphic novels by having so many literary references. At times, I felt like Alison Bechdel was trying to brag about how well read she is. I was overwhelmed by literary references…except when they were about mythology and The Great Gatsby.  Overall, I’m not trying to be so hard on Fun Home. I really enjoyed reading it. Once again, it was a very different type of graphic novel. It was more intellectually stimulating to me than some of the others- probably because I’m not much of the graphic novel type…but I have enjoyed sampling a little bit of everything in this class this semester.

6Dec/09Off

First Readers – Fun Home (2nd week)

It is the end of the semester and we as a class have ended it with “Fun Home.”  I wish I could say that I had enjoyed it. Unfortunately the book was too full of literary references that went over my head and a plot that went around in circles analyzing the author’s life and relationships continuously. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change anything about the book. I’m not saying that it should dumb itself down to accommodate me, what it amounts to is that it was just not my “thing.” It isn’t a book I would normally read, nor is it the kind of book I ever see myself reading again. But sometimes that can be a good thing, to broaden one’s mind and view; even if you hate it every step of the way. I would recommend this book to an English major or a psychology major, or maybe even a conflict analysis major.

It may have suffered in my eyes due to the poor timing of when it was being read. Reading a book that has relatively no impact on studies while juggling a multitude of papers, tests, a job, and other assignments (I myself have locked myself away for the past three days to work on an extensive paper which still has to be proofread and submitted within a couple days).

For those that decide to click that special “reply” button attached to this post, not only do I ask you to reply with your thoughts on “Fun Home,” but with your thoughts on everything else that we have read this semester. A list of what you liked most and what you liked least, and your reasoning behind your order.

1. Frank Miller,  Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986)
-This was my favorite out of all the books that we read. It was a good start for my transition as a film minded person to a graphic novel minded person. Using a subject matter I was very familiar with and adding an excellent story and beautiful (in its own way) artwork made this a very pleasurable read.

2. Art Spiegelman,  Maus Boxset (1986)
-While not my favorite to read, I have to say that Maus was probably the best written. The story was heart-wrenching and not only dealt with the events of the holocaust, but of those between the author and his father. Maybe I just enjoy it when stories break the forth wall from time to time, but I felt that everything was realistic (if you ignore the fact that every person was an animal) and well put together. Some people complained about the artwork in Maus, but I think that the monochromatic and shaky style adds an extra layer to this piece.

3. Gene Luen Yang,  American Born Chinese (2006)
-Sometimes, you need a break from all the gloom and doom of everything in the world, and this was the only comic that we read that provided that comic relief to an otherwise bleak list of readings. Or maybe it’s because I find racism funny.

4. Junji Ito,  Uzumaki (1998)
-Since for the class we were only required to read the first book, I am only judging the first book. It was refreshing to have a look into another culture’s drawing style and the story was rather creepy at some parts. The only reason that this book is low-ish on the list is because the first book didn’t really have an overarching story; it felt more like an anthology of short stories that all had a related theme. If you include the second and third books, this would go up at least one spot on my list as the third book really ties all of what has happened together (and having an ending is fun!)  If you did not read the second or third books, I strongly urge that you do.

5. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons,  Watchmen (1986)
-Unfortunately, this is probably low on my list because of the movie. I just hate hearing stories that I already know. I enjoyed the differences that were in the book, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of “I already know all of this.” I still enjoyed it, but probably not as much as I could have.
On a side note, this book was actually recommended to me back in high school, but when I flipped through it, I just did not like the art style at all. I’m probably the only one that thinks that this book was just ugly, but that can make all the difference in how much something can be enjoyed.

6. Chris Ware,  Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000)
-I will probably get a lot of flak for not having this closer to the very bottom of the list, but once you get past the first half and find out how it all ties together, it isn’t a half bad story. I just wish the publisher knew how to paste a book together.

7. Marjane Satrapi,  The Complete Persepolis (2000-2003)
-Here is another unfortunate victim of “already know what’s going to happen.” Having seen the movie before reading it, Persepolis was a slow read of comparing scenes to the movie (and frankly, the artwork in the movie was much better in my opinion). The other nail in this coffin is the second book of the two part series. I just plain didn’t like it and didn’t care about what was going on, but to be fair, I felt the same way for the second half of the movie version.

8. Alison Bechdel,  Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006)
-As I have already stated, this book just wasn’t my kind of thing.

9. Wilfred Santiago,  In My Darkest Hour (2004)
-This was by far the worst book of the semester. It had terrible artwork, a non-sensical plot, and it suffered from D.G.A.S.S. (Don’t Give A Shit Syndrome). Maybe I didn’t give the book enough time or attention, but I just didn’t care enough to give it more time than I had to.

(For the purposes of this list, I have not included “Understanding Comics” as that book was more of a guide to comics rather than a story. Feel free to include it in your list if you feel it necessary.)

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6Dec/09Off

First Reader: Graphic novel vs. Novel

As I've been reading this, I've been wondering about what makes this a remarkable graphic novel or piece of literary text. I mean, Time made it its #1 book of the year in 2006. This is not to say that I don't like the book! There is just a lot of text and the memoir itself seems steeped in literature. I was just wondering if this book would be the same (or better?) if it were just a straight up novel.

We had a class discussion about whether or not Jimmy Corrigan could be translated into film or novel form. The general consensus was that Jimmy was just too damn avant-garde and comic-specific to be anything other than a graphic novel. I don't know if this is necessarily the case with Fun Home. To me, a lot of the things that Bechdel draws could also be effectively conveyed through vivid imagery (Everyone can picture that slightly creepy Dad who wears cut-off jean shorts.).  This thought then makes me wonder if the book would be as heralded as it is if it were mere novel. Is what makes it original the fact that it's a comic book?

Bechdel's art style is very detailed at moments, but it is still very iconic and therefore I don't know if the drawings really help evoke the extravagant nature of her house (except maybe the last panel of p. 17). The only real function I see in the art is that it helps make the literary illusions more subtle (so she doesn't actually have to say, "Yeah, I masturbated to Anais Nin.") Perhaps my opinion will change once I finish the book. What do other people think? Could Fun Home function pretty well as a straight up novel?

-Nathalie L.

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5Dec/09Off

Clips definitely help shape who Alison Bechdel is and what she's like. Bechdel seems very playful but also grounded and directed as far as clearly stating what her messages are in her work and why she thinks they're important. She often relates back to her own childhood and her coming-out experience when she addresses the subject of homosexuality.

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5Dec/09Off

Searchers Leon Langford

http://dykestowatchoutfor.com/blog

This is a link to Alison Bechdel's Blog. As you'd expect it's full of big vocab words and a sassy tone. I find it interesting because you get to see all the other projects she's interested in, as well as what an artist does in there free time. It's a fun place to check out if you ever want to learn more about her, her projects, and some of the vocab words you've missed.

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