Tuesday, December 18, 2012

For Wednesday: Collins' Road to Perdition

For Wednesday, read Collins' Road to Perdition and answer the template questions (which are posted two posts down, in case you've lost them).  Like many graphic novels, the book was successfully adapted into a feature film starring Tom Hanks and Jude Law, though certain aspects of the story are downplayed while others are grafted on.  In an interview with Comic Book Resources website, Collins discusses the difficulty of writing the book:

"The trickiest aspect was my decision to use a first-person narration, with an adult Michael Jr. writing a memoir about his childhood experiences with his father on the road. That meant I had to use the somewhat outrageous device of having Michael tell us that he's about to report something he didn't witness, and is basing the upcoming scenes on true-crime accounts he's read filtered through his own knowledge of his father. Only the comic book medium would accommodate a narrative ploy of that sort. And I love the way it plays."

To read the entire interview, click here: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=1193


  1. 1. The artwork in this novel is very realistic and thoroughly detailed. It was also heavily shaded, giving it a darker feel even though it was in black and white throughout. However, even though the drawing style was very realistic and detailed, I felt that the shading technique often led to characters looking a bit exaggerated or strange in some cases, with the shading often coming off to look reminiscent of stitches or facial hair. Even though I know that these markings are supposed to represent shadows, it still bothered my a little every now and then when some characters looked like they randomly grew a mustache in between panels.

    2. I don't think this story could have worked very well as anything other than a graphic novel due to the way it is narrated. Since the entire story is told from the son's point of view, there were many occasions where he would be explaining the events occurring as they happened, which while doable in film or purely written form, would likely come off as a bit tiresome after the first few times it happened. Who wants to hear some guy talk over everything that is happening in the movie?

    3. Michael, the son, is the narrator of the story. It is told from a mixture of first and third person view points, with the story being told in first person for the events that Michael actually witnessed, and switching to third person for the segments that he had only speculation and the writings of others to go by. I think this was very effective, because even though the narrator admits that a lot of what his story is is speculation, it is still told in such a way as to be believable.

    4. Pages 80 and 81 are the most significant to me, in terms of the characterization of the father. The first confused then pained expressions that he has when his son is blaming himself for what happened to their family shows that, even though he is a hired killer, he still has a good side to him. Though this manifests itself multiple times throughout the story, as he almost always gives people the chance to walk away unharmed, I feel this scene in particular shows his humanity.

  2. 1) I would characterize this work as both realistic, and artistic. Many of the frames contain intense details involving characters faces, and settings. There are also several frames with ornate details, some taking up whole pages of the novel. This detail, and smooth transition between scenes, allows the novel to read much like watching a movie. It becomes obvious from the beginning of the tale that the dramatic scenes created in the first few pages will continue throughout the story.
    2) This story was written as a graphic novel because it allows the reader to experience the story from several angles, while still keeping the reader engaged in the present, and engaged in the struggle between good and evil. The graphic novel approach allows the author to blur the lines between good and evil, creating a struggle that is more or less between the bad and the ugly. Reading this tale frame by frame also allows the author to change the mood rather quickly. One scene may be a father showing love to his son, another may leave the reader engaged in a bloody battle, while another may leave the reader compassionate toward O’Sullivan’s cause.
    3) One person narrates this tale. This revengeful narrated from the first person perspective of O’Sullivan’s son. These narrations are set apart from the rest of the story by placing them in distinct boxes that does not confuse the reader. This allows the reader to know that this story is a firsthand account from a character who was there.
    4) I believe the frames at the end of the book that show that the narrator, O’Sullivans son, is a priest are very significant to the story. These frames make it apparent that his son has grown up to be a good person, just as O’Sullivan had hoped. It also shows that this story is one that has shaped his sons life, and is one he will never forget.

  3. 1. The artwork in “Road To Perdition” is completely black and white. The characters are very detailed and the backgrounds are spectacular. The way the illustrations are presented are like that of a movie. It gives you the feeling that you are watching a film with lots of action scenes. This novel contains several graphic killing scenes, and the way the artwork is presented is perfect for a serious toned story like this one.

    2. This story is very well suited to be a graphic novel for the fact that, if there were no pictures, the story would not have as much of a wow factor. Without actually seeing the bullet storms and deaths, the story would not be a profound or captivating. Reading it is one thing, but seeing is another. This story was also made into a movie, and this is no surprise. “Road To Perdition” is basically a movie in paperback form.

    3. The narrator is Michael O'Sullivan Jr., the “Angel Of Death's” son. It is the story of his father, the gangster, through his accounts and personal memories. Even though Michael Jr. is the narrator, the story is not about him. In reality, it is mostly about his father's life and occupation as a gangster. Jr. then becomes involved in this charade and has his own influences on the story. There are also lots of times where there is no narration, but instead action sequences, which need not any narration.

    4. Page 57... is the beginning of end. You see the letter telling Big Tony to kill O'Sullivan and you know that it's about to get nasty. This scene, along with the proceeding scenes of the “Angel” killing literally everyone to the tune of “The Saints”, is the most powerful and visually compelling part of the entire novel. You can picture the event perfectly in your mind, with the music playing and people dying... it's phenomenal. You can see this happening so vividly, and making a movie scene for this would have been amazing.

  4. 1. Art Style
    Black and white, with abundance of hatching and crosshatching. Rather than the solid, heavy inking of Year One, Rayner seems fond of shading with what seems like loose and sketchy lines. That's not to say I think he just scribbled out the scenes. But it gets hard to tell where scenes take place, what background elements are, and so on. Sometimes this isn't important, (it doesn't much matter what the room looks like when the shooting starts) but it still comes away really messy, disheveled, chaotic. The only character with a consistent, distinctive look is his father, always in a black suit and tie with slicked back hair.

    2. Why Graphic Novel?
    I think this level of violence might not be as easily portrayed in another medium, especially film. In a novel, it would either come out to bland "and then he shot the two guards" or too disturbingly graphic. This, coupled with the author's own admission that the juxtaposition of the son telling the story and the father's actions he never witnessed worked out pretty well in this medium. One other thing I think was interesting was the father's moral and emotional ambiguity. Does he train his son as a getaway driver in his son's best interests or in his own best interests? Is he cold and calculating as he kills by the droves? Is he weary? Is he angry? I think in this case the sketchy style makes it ambiguous, allowing one to substitute in their own ideas on what he is feeling.

    3. The now grown son tells the story, based on reconstruction of events he claims to have assembled and meshed with his father's personality. Or rather his father's personality as best he understands it, he could be wrong. It's interesting that he prefaces with a disclaimer every time and then the 'camera' follows his father. It's almost like the son introduces each scene but his father remains the focus, first person account, but without the internal monologue. It's interesting.

    4. Pages 268 and 269 where he throws a woman off a boat! Why did he do that? Him tossing her overboard is probably the brightest page in the book. It could he he doesn't want her to alert others that he has a gun, or maybe that he doesn't want her, an 'innocent' to be caught on the burning boat, but this sequence baffled me. Here, there is only her dialog. He doesn't really seem interested, almost robotic. "On, she found me out, guess I've got to throw her overboard now..."


  5. 1. Road to Perdition has illustrations that are extremely detailed. Each character looks very distinct—even the little boys. It’s done in black and white—no color at all, not even grey. Shades are done by using lines. The illustrations really make me think of a newspaper. The lack of color and attention to detail gives the work a really cold, factual feel to me. This works because the narrator is trying to give us an honest account of what happened to him and his family.
    2. I think this was written as a graphic novel, again, because of the action. It makes it far scarier to see just how emotionless Michael’s father is. It also works well to keep a first person narrator, since he isn’t always with his father. This way we can see the action, but Michael is still the only narrator.
    3. Michael, Jr. narrates the story. He does this in the first person, which is technically traditional. He, however, changes it up by still letting us see events that he could not possibly narrate and stay true to character. When a scene comes up that he is not in, he typically starts be saying “I can only reconstruct, from the writings of others,” or something along those lines. As a reader, I appreciated the realism of that.
    4. The scene where Michael’s father is teaching him to drive in the countryside was interesting to me. It’s pretty much the first time in the whole book that you see Michael smiling. It’s kind of a turning point in the book, I think. Before, Michael had a gun for protection, but was just supposed to wait in the car. After this, he becomes the Angel’s “getaway man”. On one hand, it’s sweet that a father is teaching his son to drive. On the other, a hit man is making his young son follow in his path. I like the art in this scene—the smile is so genuine, and the Angel’s stress is almost palpable. It’s just a nice scene in a sea of less than nice scenes.

  6. 1) The graphics are very artistic in this novel with detail given to each character’s facial features and body type. Even details such as wallpaper and curtain patterns such as on page 141 and statues in the churches as on page 161 are carefully detailed. This gives the novel and almost cinematic flow to it. There is no need to rely on background changes or color changes to let the reader know what is taking place. In places the graphics are almost too graphic such as on page 146 where a member of the Capone gang gets their head blown off.
    2) “The Road to Perdition” has a “Dick Tracy” tone to it. Dick Tracy was a popular comic strip for many years, and this novel works just as well as it did. It would and did work equally well as a movie, however, due to the flow of the graphics and dialogue together. This flow made transition from graphic novel to movie painless.
    3) Michael O’Sullivan, Jr. narrates this story in such a way that it has a film noir aura to it. First, narration, then, dialogue or action such as on page 30 where Michael, Jr. narrates, “Then papa and Connor Looney led the men inside the warehouse… my heart was pounding… this was terrible, and exciting. I had to see more…so once they were inside…” Next follows dialogue and a major action scene. This occurs all through the book.
    4) Page 109 in the first frame O’Sullivan responds to young Michael’s question about what has just happened. “I declared war,” with his head almost resting on the steering wheel f the car and looking sad. Although there has been violence before this point, it escalates dramatically afterward.

  7. 1) It is very realist despite being just ink. Almost the opposite of what Marc said I feel the panels are very tight, every line in its place. I thought her used the hatching to It has a lot of shading and hatching in most panels where they could have gotten away without it and the picture would still been recognizable. In any other art style the graphic killings would come off wrong or be off putting for some people to read.

    2) Like I said for the style,I feel the deaths would not work well in other medias. It would be hard to describe the gun fights. You would also lose the beauty of the art. It would become to real in film and some of the artistic overlays, for example the city from the window with the faces sketched over it. This is such a cool effect and every attempt in a movie to do this just doesn't work as well. Also, The comic is the best way to show the jumps in time.

    3) The narrator is the son once her is older. He is writing his take on what had happened in his childhood. His view of his father. It gave an interesting mix of both first hand accounts as well as third person guesses as to what really happened. I'm not sure I trust him. He is to close to his father. Like with Jane Austen this fall, we couldn't' trust what the cousins and her brothers say of her. If I tell a story of mom for example I'm going to make her look good, she will have only done what she needed to.

    4) My most important scene starts at 39, when the father said "what you did was wrong" and the son spits off "what I did was wrong?" I was shocked to read those words coming from the son. It really mad me stop and think. It was amazing to see the sons reaction, and even more know knowing where the son went later on the the novel. It made his change,his bend if morals, more dramatic to me. For a child, a son, who normally would idolize their parents he quickly realized how wrong his father was.