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A Brief History and Understanding of Graphic Novels

A Brief History and Understanding of Graphic Novels. Alena Firlie.

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A Brief History and Understanding of Graphic Novels

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  1. A Brief History and Understanding of Graphic Novels Alena Firlie

  2. I was intrigued when I found out there was a course on Graphic Novels: I grew up reading Graphic Novels, all kinds of them, and was elated to find a way to learn more about them. This semester has been an eye-opener on what exactly makes a Graphic Novel a Graphic Novel and I feel like I have a much better understanding than I did at the start of this course.

  3. We first learned about panel design and what exactly a graphic novel is. We also touched on a change of palates: superheroes became silly and they weren’t real enough for us to take them seriously. We wanted something with depth.

  4. So to elaborate on the change of palate, we started this class with three darker, edgier artists: Eisner, Miller, and Moore. These classics are full of political and social societal statements and arguments brought to light through dialogue and character design.

  5. Reading Will Eisner’s Dropsie Avenue was sort of like a really apathetic kick in the teeth over and over and over again. It was brilliantly written and Eisner created a character in the neighborhood itself, but the endless cycle of crazy and misery was just too much for me. It made everything seem hopeless and I wasn’t prepare for that kind of outlook. But to call him either an Optimist or Pessimist wouldn’t do justice to this crazy little town, so once again, I’m going to have to insist that he’s both personified through the town and its people.

  6. Moving on to Moore, Watchmen was a little more up in the air with its display of humanities and inhumanities. It displayed the mental disorder behind the mask and the horrors of being a superhero in a world that doesn’t exactly want to tolerate or move forward in any progressive kind of way on its own.

  7. Frank Miller was the third man on the pyramid of grit we studied this semester. Everything was just sort of dark and Batman was pretty much hardened and done.

  8. After Batman, Watchmen, and Dropsie, we move into something a little more realistic and centered in real life. Alison Bechdel essentially created a compare and contrast novel for her and her deceased father about what it’s like to be homosexual today and what it was like in the fifties. In contrast to her father, she turned out relatively alright and among the living.

  9. Anya’s Ghost was high school mixed with horror. The black and white only served to further the textual experience. In my opinion, it was about character development. All of us fall down hypothetical wells and discover bundles of bones at the bottom that follow us around for a little while in high school. We find out things we didn’t want to know; we lie to ourselves and we have to come to terms with who we are. This was about Anya figuring herself out and finding out which parts she didn’t want around anymore in the disguise of a classic ghost story.

  10. Reading Fables was sort of like reading a work of art. There was just as much story that went into the art as there was that went into the story. It wasn’t an epic novel like Watchmen or Rise of the Dark Night, but it definitely had it’s five minutes of fame. We like it because we like the characters and the issues they deal with are real issues. Feeling unwelcome and like the world has something innately against you simply because of who you are is a common fear we deal with.

  11. There’s an interesting debate going on right now on whether or not comics will make their way to the digital world permanently… I’d rather hope not. It’s a lot less stressful on multiple levels to read a book in your hands rather than on the internet. If we’re speaking realistically, I don’t think it’ll happen. A lot of people like books; a lot of people like the smell and the feel and physical evidence they’ve read something.

  12. However, this doesn’t mean that that there isn’t good stuff out there already. Hyperbole and a Half written by the wonderful Allie Brosh is something I’ve connected with better than a lot of reading material in the last five years or so. It wanders into the ridiculousness that is life while maintaining a strange sense of dignity through the style of writing. You can really tell she’s got a lot to say and even though a lot of it’s stuff people would rather die than admit, she displays it as kindly and honestly as it needs to be displayed.

  13. However, you’ve got to be a little careful on the internet because there’re a LOT of stuff out there that’s NOT great. Take the Light Stream Chronicles for instance. This was well and truly on the bottom of the grape vine. I don’t even know how they thought this was a good idea to put out there. The clothing looks painted on and the words are so tiny they’ll give you a headache to read.

  14. A good part of the way through this course, we were given an assignment to illustrate Hills Like White Elephants to make it into a short graphic novel. I and my partners created this: http://alenafirlie.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/437/

  15. Graphic Novels are a completely valid and interesting way to tell stories and in my opinion, they’re just as literary as textual novels. This semester was an eye opener to many novels I hadn’t read and will probably read again, such as Fun Home and Hyperbole and a Half. I think the most important thing I’ve learned about Graphic Novels is that they tell more than just the words on the page; they tell the facial expressions, how the setting actually looks, they give the freedom of a fuller expression of the writer’s words. They’re a wonderful collaboration of the senses when done right and wholly unharmonious when done wrong.

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