A Week Reading Bayou

This week in class we focused on a multitude of different topics. The two that stood out the most to me were the religious overtones and references made within Bayou and the electronic format of the graphic novel.

The religion topic started with Thursday’s powerpoint presentation, which discussed how Bayou was influenced  by many different religions and then went on to give examples. Among these examples were the dark and evil presence of the devil that exists in the character of Stagolee and the reference to the great flood and Noah’s ark that was made at the juke joint with Reverend Bear.

The topic I found most interesting was the electronic format and how it differed from the print version of the graphic novel. On the comiXology website, each page is displayed one at a time, taking up the entire computer screen. Therefore, you cannot view two pages side by side like in the printed version. This causes the reader to miss a few things the writers included. One feature comiXology does offer that I found interesting is that you can view each individual panel separately. While this doesn’t allow you to see the bigger picture that is the whole page, it does allow you to direct your focus toward each panel and the contents within it. By view the novel panel by panel, you may be able to realize something you may have skipped over if the entire page was visible. The electronic format has many features and is a completely different reading experience from the printed form.

Defying Ideologies

David Mazucchelli’s Asterios Polyp defies limitations of the mind by telling a story that alters between intellectual thoughts, sentimental notions, present events, past memories. Everything from color to texture to narrative forms are used to expand the universe in which the story is told.

The first way Mazucchelli breaks from the mold of conventional storytelling is through the use of the narrator. In most cases, the narrator of a story is either the protagonist of the tale or an omniscient being who is not an actual character in the scenes. However, in Asterios Polyp the story is told through Asterios’s dead brother, Ignazio. Ignazio appears in a number of scenes throughout the graphic novel, all of which are dream sequences that occur within Asterios’s mind. Through using Ignazio as the narrator and including him in multiple dream sequences, Mazucchelli causes the line between figments of the mind and reality to become blurred. While there are certain scenes that feel real and others that seem too surreal to be reality, it is never clarified as to which sections are the truth and which sections of Asterios’s memory are stretching the truth.

The other way Mazzucchelli breaks the mold is through the use of colors and texture. While it’s not necessarily a color graphic novel, it is not a black and white novel either. The colors blue, purple, white, yellow, and pink are the only colors used throughout the course of the entire novel. This, like the use of Ignazio as narrator, helps blur lines between reality and dream. Yellow, blue, and purple seem to be used just to convey every day actions (much like black and white do in a black and white film). The pink comes into motion when there is a great deal of feeling behind the actions taking place. In the scene where Asterios is seeing his mother feed his dying father, Asterios’s shirt is pink. Whenever he talks about Hana, pink is in the scene. The scenes with Willy Ilium use pink (showing his anger and irritation toward the man).

The final thing I realized about the colors, whether it was intentional or coincidental, is that the colors used in Asterios Polyp are associated with 3D. When you think of 80s 3D glasses and 3D film reels, they are composed of the same colors this graphic novel is. Maybe Mazucchelli did this on purpose to convey to the reader that the stories within the realms of the pages have more to the eye than what appears on the 2D surface.

Literature in Fun Home

The characters in the graphic novel Fun Home are greatly influenced by various works of literature. The mother in the household is enthralled by the art of acting. In Chapter 6 of the graphic novel, the mother figure spends her time rehearsing for the play The Importance of Being Earnest. After helping her mother rehearse lines, the protagonist becomes interested in the play as well. The same thing happens later in the graphic novel with the literary works The Odyssey and Ulysses. Both she reads for school, but help her to create a connection with her father, much like Earnest did with her mother. Below I have linked the sparknotes for all three pieces of literature. By reading the overviews and summaries on the sparknotes page, it can help make some of the references in Fun Home easier to understand. Rather than the references going over your head while reading, you can read the sparknotes of the three literary works and understand things you wouldn’t have without reading Earnest, The Odyssey, or Ulysses.

Sparknotes for The Importance of Being Earnest

Sparknotes for The Odyssey

Sparknotes for Ulysses

The Art of Storytelling

On Tuesday’s class, we focused on Maus’s emphasis on and dedication to storytelling. The class discussed what elements make a story captivating and worth listening to. This discussion was sparked by the examples Professor Sample gave while testing out his storytelling abilities. First, Sample decided to tell the class a story about when his brother chased him and attacked him with a vacuum cleaner. However, he left out all descriptive details and only listed the basic skeleton of the story. The class was not interested by the story due to the fact that the way in which it was told was uninformative and somewhat boring. So Professor Sample decided to give the story a second try. On his second attempt, he filled his story with a great deal of descriptions. He even went as far as discussing the color and thickness of the carpet in his house. The second attempt at his story was not effective either because the amount of details given caused the story to drag out and the class to lose interest. The amount of detail took away from the actions that were taking place. Professor Sample decided to give his story one last try, proving that the saying “the third time is a charm” is true. On his third try, Professor Sample provided the perfect mix of detail, action, and humor to engage the interests of the class. After deciding that a story is interesting when action takes place, character descriptions are given, and the actions presented are done so in an exciting manner, the class broke into groups and took turns telling their own personal stories to each other.

The storytelling example and exercise was important to the class because storytelling plays such a large role in the graphic novel Maus. The entire graphic novel is one big story told over multiple chapters. Due to the fact that Maus is a true story created from conversations that Spiegelman had with his father, a Holocaust survivor, it is important that we, as readers, are able to identify with Spiegelman and realize that this is a personal story he is choosing to share with the world. By sharing our own personal stories and listening to others stories, we are able to experience (to a point) what Spiegelman experience with his father while gaining the information for Maus.

If Homeward Bound were rated R

WE3 was an extremely entertaining graphic novel that was packed full of action and held my interest from beginning to end. The one thing that caught my attention the most while reading WE3 was the amount of violence that takes place. The violence was a bit excessive, seeming at points to only be drawn for shock value. I found the amount of gore with the graphic novel to be somewhat disturbing. The fact that the violence came from a cat, dog, and rabbit made it even more shocking because those are three animals associated with being cute and cuddly, not angry and deadly. WE3 reminded me of what Homeward Bound would have been if it was directed by Quentin Tarantino.

I found it interesting how the violence and killings were represented in many different ways throughout the course of the graphic novel. There were frames that showed the violence head on, showing the victims guts being ripped from inside them. However, there were also frames were the violence wasn’t directly shown, but the aftermath was presented to the reader. One frame would have the animals running toward the victim and the next frame would have the victim laying dead on the ground in a pool of blood. One of the frames that I found most interesting was where the violence was not shown at all…only implied. In the frame the cat and the dog are charging toward a man who had just shot the rabbit. The next frame is simply a block of red, to symbolize blood. In this frame, no violence is shown but the reader is left with no doubt that the man was killed. The violence in WE3 is everywhere and tends to be the most rememberable aspect of the graphic novel.

Forming Empathy Through The First Chapter

While I respect the opinions shared in the well-written analysis by rpaul2, I find myself disagreeing with almost everything that rpaul2 said.

I agree that Nat Turner is a complex book; however, I do not think that it is confusing to the point that it warrants going back multiple times to figure out certain scenes. Kyle Baker does a decent job of keeping a quick pace throughout the course of the entire graphic novel. I feel that slowing down and going back to reread scenes only takes away from the fast paced mentality of the book. The first few scenes may be open to interpretation, but Baker still makes sure enough is drawn that you are not confused by what is going on. It is clear that the character at the beginning is a woman and not Nat Turner. It is also clear that the first few scenes take place in Africa before slavery and on a boat, not on an American plantation.

The thing rpaul2 said that I disagree with the most is that the first chapter is “relatively unnecessary.” The first chapter of Nat Turner could possibly be the most important chapter of the graphic novel. The first chapter displays the history of the slaves to the reader, demonstrating the harsh and cruel circumstances they were put through on the ships and on the plantations. It was argued that Chapter 3 was where the book began to pick up pace and become truly good. The 3rd chapter is riveting because it is full of action and violence. It has the same effect as watching a Michael Bay film: it doesn’t matter what is taking place… the action, explosions, and violence will hold your attention and cause you to not be able to look away. Even though Chapter 1 does not have the same effect on the reader as Chapter 3, it is extremely important because it allows the reader to empathize with the character of Nat Turner. By showing the reader all of the horrible things the slaves were put through, it allows the reader to understand why Turner is committing the horrible murders. Without the first chapter, readers of Nat Turner would view the protagonist as a monster obsessed with the genocide of white plantation farmers instead of as a leader of a revolution; which is a pretty important role for a chapter that is considered “relatively unnecessary.”

Original Edition of Gods’ Man

After reading Gods’ Man, I was curious as to how Lynd Ward presented his work to the general public. In the edition we read for class, there was one image per page However, there were images on the back’s of pages, allowing two images to sit side by side. In other versions of Gods’ Man, Ward put only one picture per page and had nothing on the back’s of pages, forcing the viewer to look at each image one at a time. This is the method that was used in the original edition, which was published in 1929. By clicking on each individual picture, you can see a large image of how each page looked.