Monday, December 26, 2011

Gabaldon's The Exile (by Karmen Sellers)

1.       How is the work illustrated?  Be specific: would you characterize it as sketchy, realistic, cartoony, artistic, ornate, spare, expressionistic, tight, loose, etc.?  What is the overall feel of the artwork, and what kind of tone does it create for the reader?  Do you feel it is the uniquely suited to the story being told?  Consider the differences between Crumb and Cavey’s illustrations for Pekar’s American Splendor

I would say The Exile is illustrated in a realistic way. The characters are realistic and the colors are vibrant and shows the colors the clans wore in the 1700s were a beautiful and magnificent red. This gives the illustrations a movie-like feel. There is a frame where a man comes through the stones and the light that radiates from the stones is so bright, it feels as if it will jump right off the page. The people are drawn in such detail that you see the intricate lines on their faces and the scars and marks of Jaime. This is a great compliment to the Outlander series; it allows fans to see Jaime as the author sees him. When he marries Claire to keep her safe, you see him dressed in the clans’ colors and it’s almost breathtaking, he is strong and masculine in a kilt. I think the artwork created a realism that made one think of it being almost like a part soap opera and part movie. I think this was uniquely suited to the story being told because it allowed the reader to see the characters in a realistic fashion and not just fantasy. This is about time-travel but it’s also historical fiction and romance so the author wanted to look as real as possible in order for time-travel to plausible.

2.         Why was this story written as a graphic novel?  What might this story lose if translated to a novel, short story, or even a film?  What elements of the story almost require the juxtaposition of words and images? In other words, what does the comic format allow us to see and experience that a traditional novel wouldn’t?  Again, be as specific as possible. 
            This story was turned into a graphic novel because the author as a fan of Walt Disney comics as a child and she grew up later writing a few Walt Disney comics. After that, she pursued other venues and when the opportunity to write a graphic novel became available, she jumped at the chance. This story began as a novel and when translated into a graphic novel, she realized she could spin it in a whole new way. That is how this book was born; she told the story from a different point of view and allowed the readers to see a glimpse of Jaime from someone other than Claire’s point of view. This book being made into a graphic novel also allows the reader to see the sarcastic looks and the eavesdropping that goes on in the novel but we can’t really see. Therefore, the author has to take time to write in where everyone is eavesdropping, which takes up a lot space and here, the author is allowed to get on with the story. I think I liked this better as a graphic novel because there were some confusing parts in the novel that were cleared up for me in the graphic novel. For example, we see what the other men in the room are thinking when we see Claire tending to Jaime in a house. In the novel, it just said, to paraphrase, “the men thought of her as childbearing.” In the graphic novel, you can see in their thought bubbles, Claire breastfeeding a baby. Another example is after the men had saved Claire from Captain Randall and they were back at the pub, having dinner, you can see on their faces they are upset and waiting for Jaime to do his husbandly duty and whip her. After the whipping, when Jaime comes back down with a bite mark, some scratches and soon-to-be bruises, the men look sympathetic and almost sheepish. I think this was a great set of frames because there is not much to say here, you can tell the men were upset, whereas in the novel, she described each man being upset and there was grumbling towards Jaime. Afterwards, they offered to buy him dinner, which he politely refused and they went back to being normal. It’s more uncomfortable to see it in a graphic novel where men know something had to happen but don’t like it anyhow and they have to live with the knowledge of what went on upstairs. In a way, it’s almost comical.

3.          Who narrates the story?  How do they do this?  Traditionally, narration is told from either a third-person or first-person perspective; how does a graphic novel challenge this approach?  Consider how the form of comics ‘tells’ a story and allows us to see multiple points of view within a single narrative frame. 

            Murtagh, Jaime’s godfather, narrates the story from his perspective. Sometimes the reader sees things he doesn’t but for the most part, the story is told through his eyes or what he has heard. In the novel, Claire is the main character and the reader gets her perspective, landing in a different time period; allowing Murtagh to narrate the story brings a different life to it and a different tone. There is much more sarcastic conversations going on and a lot of action mixed in with a lot of romance and seduction. Murtagh saw someone come through the stones before Claire (which we don’t find out until later in the series) and decides to follow him. Later on in the graphic novel, Murtagh sees Dougal in cahoots with Geille from the beginning (which if you read the series, you will not learn that until later either). During some parts of the graphic novel, you get a voyeuristic point of view with Claire and Jaime in their honeymoon suite and later in Geille’s house.

4.         Describe one scene in the novel, either a single frame or a series of frames, that you feel is particularly significant.  Why is this sequence so important?  Do you admire this passage more for its narrative (the words) or its art (the images)—or both?  Make sure we can not only see what’s going on here, but we see how it relates to the story at large. 

            The most significant series of frames to me is toward the end where Jaime has been told by Claire that she is not of that time and he takes her back to the stones so she can decide whether to stay with him or go back to Frank, her husband in her present time of 1947. She thinks about the husband she left behind with the thought bubble of her husband, Frank but she longs for Jaime by thinking “I can’t go….I can’t” and she starts running down the hill toward the place where Jaime said he would wait until dark. In a sequence of frames you see her running closer to the frame, then a full bottom frame of Murtagh, (who killed the first guy to come out of the stones) and he says “Wha!...” The next frame shows a close-up of Claire’s face chanting “don’t be gone” and she is on top of Jaime in the next frame as she startles him awake. The last frame that is significant to me is ¾ of the page and it’s Claire and Jaime hugging and you see them from the chest up in a close shot with the sun setting in the mountains behind them. Her head is tucked under his chin and she has her eyes closed. She made her decision to stay and be with Jaime. I knew this would happen from reading the novel and I still shouted “yes!” This frame is so breathtaking and romantic that it almost makes you want to cry. The art is sensational and makes it so much more inspiring than the book. I hope you will read both The Exile and the Outlander series.

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