The Boundaries Broken: Past & Present, Magical & Real

            I think the idea that the past never really dies and that it still has an impact on us today, as discussed on Thursday, is a very important theme in Bayou. Looking back at the comic book, a number of symbols of the past ran throughout the comic such as the tomahawk and the statue of the Confederate general, both in issue four. I think it’s also significant that the creators of Bayou introduce these items through a different style of comic book format than the rest of the story. For example, the tomahawk axe is introduced through a past story told by the main character’s uncle, and the panels are colored in brown tones and have a more classical penciling style, kind of like some of the panels in Nat Turner. The statue of Confederate General Bogg is not introduced in a different style graphically, but it is shown through a completely different type of narrative. The comic book, as a medium, seems more like a newspaper. And, the writer of the newspaper is a local southerner, who holds General Bogg, one of the villains in story, in high regard. In the magical realm of the story, the General is an opposing character to the heroes, but he gets killed by another person from the past. Stagolee is introduced in issue eight slitting General Bog. In issue nine the readers are give a back story to Stagolee as he is walking down a field from left to right. I feel like the panels during that scene convey the idea that the past is literally moving forward to the present as Stagolee’s story is being explained. Through all these effects, the creators of Bayou are emphasizing the theme that the past is breaking into the present, or perhaps the past never died, just like the idea that the magical realm is breaking into the real world.

Fire and Ice in Asterios Polyp

            I quickly noticed all the geometrical shapes and objects illustrated in the graphic novel and related them back to the main character being an architect. His personality is very calculating. He must always be right, and his answers always seem like they are planned or scripted. I also noticed the amount of changes in color schemes in the Graphic novel. One example that really caught my eye was the blending of blue and hot pink when Asterios and Hana meet. Asterios is usually colored blue when he is around her (he is blue for the most part, anyway). I think the color shows how cold and mechanical he is. In contrast, she is more like fire. She is often drawn with very dynamic lines, especially when she is mad at Asterios. And, when Hana is mad at him, he is usually drawn in simple geometrical blue shapes. Once again, this adds to his lack of warmth and his motorized and often emotionless attitude.

            The scene when Hana is trying to explain how Mother Nature is the perfect creator by using a pine cone also points out the contrast between Hana and Asterios. He is sitting down smoking his cigarette in the park. He looks like he doesn’t belong. He is kind of at odds with nature. His apartment building is struck by lightning and goes up in flames. Apparently, it sounds like it has happened more than once. His life kind revolves around numbers and precise measurements. Hana, on the other hand, is an artist, who enjoys nature for its seemingly effortless ability to create perfectly symmetrical and beautiful objects.

What Happened to Ruth?

            To add to what ekimo said about the ending, I was very confused about the ending as well. Frankly, I was a little annoyed about it. But, I have to admit, the ending kind of drove me much more into the story and quite suddenly too. As soon, as Ruth kicks her parents out of the house, she goes into this hallucinated state and then she drifts out of reality. In a way, she takes the reader with her. I thought that was a nice technique on Nate Powell’s part.

            Yet, the actual plot becomes absent, and I’m left wondering about the purpose of a lot of the back-story. Still, there is one little clue I noticed regarding the build up to the ending. While I was reading the ending I asked myself, when was the last time Ruth had taken her meds? There are a couple moments through the middle section of the story where she is taken her meds and then the pills are just kind of thrown out of the story. Perhaps, the author wants us to look for little clues like that, which are causing Ruth to lose control.

            I also feel like the Grandmother’s hallucinations, her random comments, were kind of playing a part in Ruth’s hallucinations. I also think Perry, Ruth, and the Grandmother were almost feeding off each other’s psychosis. It seems like Perry’s hallucinations come to a screeching halt. He takes a stand and decides to step back into reality. I always felt like his illness is much more minimal than Ruth’s. But, I think the ending suggests that the author wants his readers to reread the story and find more clues in order to discover what happened to Ruth.

The voices that speak out and the Test

            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.

Fantastical Fact Vs. Fiction

            THIS PAST WEEK, we talked a lot about the methods of storytelling, particularly, in Spiegelman’s method for the telling Maus I &II. We mentioned his certain techniques such as using moments that collapse the boundaries between the past and the present, the real and the imaginary. As a result of the author’s techniques, critiques were categorizing Maus into different genres of literature. Some people thought the story was fiction. It seems that Maus could definitely be classified as a postmodern literary work that clashes many types of genres. But, I would have to say it most resembles a creative nonfiction literary work, presented by an author with a fantastical imagination and perception. Spiegelman preserved the historical legitimacy of the characters and their actions as well as the settings or landmarks. But, he uses fictitious visuals to represent his characters. And, he alters the perception of the Art character in fantastical ways to show us how, in some ways, he actually perceives these real events. For instance, there is that panel of when the doctor tells Art that his mom committed suicide. In real life, the doctor probably did not appear so sinister. But at the given moment, that may well have been how Spiegelman perceived the doctor and everyone else for that matter, at that point in his real life. This is why I feel like Maus is a creative nonfiction graphic novel. The author used representational meaning that was fantastical and fictional to evoke very real meaning in very nonfictional events. All the different animals to represent the Jews, Germans, Polish, Americans, they evoked several different meanings. One was to emphasize the idea that Nazis really did see the Jews as a sub-human race and to evoke the feeling of how the Jewish people really had to live like rats in those concentration camps and while they were in hiding.

            The author literally put himself inside the panels to give the readers a level of credibility. He could not depend on his father’s credibility alone, so Spiegelman gets in the story and tells us, I AM STRUGGLING with this. We, the readers, come to accept the idea that there are going to be holes in this story and Vladek cannot completely explain all the events exactly as they were, but our author confesses this, and by doing so, he exposes himself to us, and kind of throws himself on the table. He leaves himself very vulnerable to our judgement, but he also gains our understanding and trust.

Direction, Time, and Motion in WE3

            I noticed that the three main characters 1, 2, and 3 are almost always moving from left to right, often on rectangular panels. I think the panels were designed to signify how fast the animals are always moving. Also, it is important to note the panels show that 1, 2, and 3 are almost always moving forward. There is a two-page spread where the cat is tearing apart a group of soldiers. The panels are broken up into eight rectangular panels that are vertical. Together they form a large horizontal rectangle, and the cat is literally jumping into and out of each panel, killing each soldier, from left to right.

            In addition to the panels, there are two sections (full-page bleeds, each one is actually compromised of two pages), where the three main characters are illustrated as moving from left to right. In one two page spread, the dog, the cat, and the rabbit are shown at a sideways angle. The section shows the animals seemingly fly through the starry night. I think the page captures their freedom to move past their initial imprisonment and enter the open road. In another section, the main characters are also moving from left to right, but the angle is more shifted to give readers a more 3D feeling. Also in the upper left hand corner, you can see the helicopters firing at the animals. So, this page really gives you the sense that 1, 2, and 3 are being chased.

            I also want to point out how the artist often makes the background setting kind of blurry. This effect definitely made me feel like the animals were going really fast. For example on the two-page full-page bleed where the animals are running away from the helicopters, the bunnies that are being mauled to death become blurry as 1, 2, and 3 race through them. Also, the trees are blurry on the second half of that section as the animals pass. The blurry background gives you a sense as to how fast they are going.

Response to Why Isn’t This a Movie Already? by Chris Petrus

            I totally agree that a Nat Turner Movie would be pretty badass. I think the themes of justice, vengeance, and the power of education would have to be really emphasized. Otherwise, the audience of the film might just view Nat Turner as a cold blooded killer and nothing more. I noticed, in Kyle Baker’s preface, the author mentions that zero films on Nat Turner have been released. The edition I purchased was published in 2008, only three years ago. I think it’s important to note that since Baker’s preface was probably introduced with a much older copy of the graphic novel, perhaps even the first release, and still no movies. I also noted that the inside flap of the cover points out some perceive Turner as “a monster, a murderer whose name is never uttered.” The Slave Rebellion in 1831 could very well be the touchiest subject in African-American history because Nat Turner and his party can be argued as monsters. Turner’s story doesn’t necessarily help the movement to abolish slavery like say, Uncle Tom’s Cabin which was published in 1851 or Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas, published in 1845.

            I would definitely be willing to shell out ten or eleven bucks (going to the movies is so ridiculously expensive now) to see Nat Turner on the big screen. But, I think the makers of the film would have to be very considerate when creating this film. Kyle Baker was so smart to incorporate the scene when the slaves are being captured, placed on the boat, and sold off. He establishes the greatest amount of sympathy in his readers for the slaves, so that when the super gore-fest massacre begins, we can’t help but feel a sense of justification for the slaves. I think it would be cool if the director of the film could insert very quick flashbacks in the rebellion scene. For instance, right before a slave hacks off a little white boy’s head, there could be a little flashback where a little slave child is being beaten to death.

The “Woodcut Novel”: A Forerunner to the Graphic Novel by Chris Lanier

            In this article, the author compares novels such as Gods’ Man to silent movies. He discusses other artists besides Lynd Ward and their impact. An insightful idea I learned about in this article, something I didn’t really think of until now, is that silent novels like Gods’ Man are not affected by a language barrier. No matter what language they speak, any person can pick up Ward’s visual narrative and generate some kind of meaning or theme. Lanier also points out that Gods’ Man was initially being released during the stock market crash of 1929, yet sales were doing well. Perhaps, this universal understanding of the novel helped create a larger audience. It seems silent novels have that advantage over books that are originally released in only one language.