Pan’s Labyrinth Meets Nat Turner

¬†Once I got over the fact that I was reading a web comic and focused on the art/story line, I couldn’t help but find parallels to the two mentioned titles.

The art reminded me of a more youthful version of Nat Turner. Perhaps I’m making the connection because Bayou also deals with themes of racism and discrimination, but I think it also has something to do with the point of view. For example, in the opening chapter we see a man hanging from a tree, not unlike the final scene in Nat Turner, and the panels that follow share an equally eery feeling as Lee dives into the pond. I would also like to note that the color schemes here, browns and greenish grays, resembles the art in Nat Turner. The difference between the two, however, lies in that Nat Turner ends with a tragedy, while Bayou starts with one.

This leads to a bizarre coming-of-age story reminiscence of the film Pan’s Labyrinth, where, through our protagonist, we enter a world similar to our own though full of magic and strange creatures. In Bayou’s alternative view of history we dance a fine balance between what could be real and what is not. Furthermore, because our main character is so young, there is a level of skepticism about how to accept what we are presented with- at least, I am a skeptic (Call it a biased against children in literature/art, but a combination of children & magic is almost too predictable). I am not a big fan of magical realism, yet I think this is kind of the graphic novel is its equivalent… and strangely enough, I did not dislike it.

I’m still questioning how viewing this in book format as opposed to web format would be different. I understand the difference in mediums and tend to prefer book to online, but for some reason I found the art incredibly accessible in the format in which I viewed it.

2 thoughts on “Pan’s Labyrinth Meets Nat Turner”

  1. I can defenitely see the similarities between both Pan’s Labyrinth and Nat Turner and Bayou. I think that the problems of race and identity are seen through Nat turner and Bayou clearly though Bayou is set further in the future than Bayou. I thought it was interesting to see the culture of the South in a sort of magic realism based story, where Cotton-Eye Joe is a real person/monster and Jim Crows are literally crows. I think that it adds a lot to the story when it deals with the magic realism of the story. The creatures in the story are analygous to any hero story that has magic characters in them. However through the setting and time of 1933 in the South we can defenitly see a more sinister view of how the creatures are represetntaie of the racism and tensions of the people living there.

    Like Pan’s Labyrinth also, she has to deal with a quest of some sorts with magical creatures though a quest but it differs since it is a book instead of a movie. In the book form there is more emphasis on each of the pictures to set the tone and mood of the story. The images really drive the juxtaposition of the horrible with the serene, such as in the beginning when Lee stumbles upon a forest where many lynching victims are hanging. Without the hanging people it would be a beautiful location.

    I also agree that the mix of imagination and realism in the story is somewhat confusing, and we are led to believe that it is simultaneously happening at once. The creatures and Lee interact in a way that blurs the line between imagination and reality that makes the story more compelling and shows the way that we view the story.

  2. Aside from the mix of the fantastic and the everyday, there’s one other (and possibly the most important) way that Bayou and Pan’s Labyrinth share some thematic DNA. At the root of both texts are traumatic historic events (brutal racism, obviously, in the former, and the specter of a totalitarian Fascist regime in the latter).

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