Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Response to Bechdel's Fun Home (by Erin Roberson)


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
            Fun Home is a mix between cartoony and realistic. Nothing in the comic would be considered unrealistic, but, for example, the characters don’t look exactly like real people either. The part of a character that looks completely realistic is their genitalia, when it is exposed.  The illustrator hardly ever allows the characters to show expression; almost all of the characters have a straight or no mouth and small, plain black eyes. Honestly, everything and everyone just looks miserable and burdened the entire time. This artwork perfectly suites the story it is trying to convey because the story is also heavy and miserable.

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 definitely was utilized most effectively in a graphic novel. The narrator switches between times, places, and ideas so quickly that a graphic novel just suites the style best. Films would be too confusing and a traditional novel format would just get mundane with all of the descriptions. Also, being able to flip between pages to reread or back up is almost necessary with this story. It is very complicated and the reader might miss something along the way, so the ability to reread it important. With this complicated of a story, having artwork to show the readers part of the story is a lot easier than trying to spell it out for them, especially with the father. This story as a book or a film would probably be pretty explicate, but a graphic novel can take a sensitive subject and make it less graphic through the use of art (that sounds contradictory but it works).

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. 
            The story is told from a first person point-of-view by Allison. She tells the story of her family, specifically her father and herself and their journeys. The narration sometimes things in the art that Allison couldn’t possibly have known without being told it by someone else, so that might be considered omniscient, but the graphic novel is mostly told through Allison’s point-of-view. The use of artwork to tell the stories of her father and mother actually add depth to the story that wouldn’t otherwise be possible through Allison’s perspective.

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. 

            A pivotal scene in the story is page 80-81 where Allison gets together with her first partner. Up until this point, any homosexuality (which is a major theme in the novel) has only been theoretical, but this is the first time that there has actually been an action. I actually think this passage is important for both the words and the artwork. The artwork shows the women honestly and does show them in the act of sex, but it is done without being more graphic than necessary. The words also make the scene artistic instead of trashy because it tells about Allison’s partner and their love affair without spelling out their actions.

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