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.
Chimichanga is drawn in a more cartoon fashion then comics like Batman: Year One. This style helps the reader swallow some of the few darker scenes in the book, like when Lola is taken away by Dinderly Pharmaceuticals (50-51). Yet, this artwork goes perfectly with Chimichanga. The story deals with a traveling circus which has performers like Lola the bearded girl, Randy the man with the strength of a slightly larger man, and Heratio the boy faced fish. The artwork adds that humorous tone to these characters which would have been lost if drawn in a more realistic fashion.
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.
It’s important to note that Chimichanga was originally made for a children’s TV show (89). So this story seems easily adaptable to film. Yet, the humorous spice that Chimichanga has would be lost if transferred to a novel format. For example, Sweetbread is a peg-legged Dog who has a goofy eye. He tells stories of his travels around the country, and plays the harmonica. You couldn’t get the same ridiculous, but humorous, look to Sweetbread and still give appropriate credit to his old man, traveler dialog.
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.
Unlike many Comics, or Graphic Novels, Chimichanga doesn’t show any characters thoughts except for one time. This one time was a scene in which the creature Chimichanga is thinking of Lola crying (72). Because of this lack of inner thoughts, or obvious narrations, the narration seems to be in third person narrator but not omniscient because he doesn’t know what every character is thinking. Chimichanga goes against the normal narration forms, and because of this gives the comic a more cartoon-sitcom feel.
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 scene that stood out to me the most was the very first frame on page 13. You see Lola the bearded girl shaking her finger a t Dagmar the witch, and she says “Whoa Nelly! I’m not going in that house! It looks like Vietnam!” This one particular scene really sums up who Lola is. It can be seen that she holds herself to a higher standard for she won’t go into just anyone’s house. She’s smart because she won’t go, into just anyone’s house. At the same time it shows how independent, and mature, she really is. She is not the average little girl who listens to every order given by an adult, and she takes in the whole situation before she makes her judgment. She’s not the normal girl who walks up to the stranger out of curiosity. SO in this scene you really see her full personality, and it could be argued that is really sums up the feel for the entire book.