Graphic Novels – The Eleventh Hour Saviour of Literacy Around The World
…“There’s nothing more off-putting than just a block of text. We live in a 140-character world. Easy to digest is what we’re going for.”… ~ Tom
Graphic Novels was one of my favourite units at uni. Traditional concepts and preconceived notions of what this media was, were shattered and I developed a deep respect for the pioneers of this genre.
The subversive nature of many of the comic books which predated the format graphic novels have become, tarnished social acceptance of one of the most powerful forms of communication developed in the last three hundred years that does not require electricity to function.
Art Speigelman created Maus, and this two novel story shattered predefined boundaries of what graphic novels might have been. Maus exposed the reality of the Holocaust in ways that photorealism couldn’t. Created when the Holocaust was still firmly within the boundaries of living memory, it could easily have been lost in this collective story and memory. The stark black and white, hand drawn images which relied on texture, line and form rather than shade, was densely symbolic. There were no shades of grey, nothing that could be disputed, nothing could be concealed or alluded to by shadows.
Alan Moore’s V is for Vendetta has had radical influence from the moment it was originally published. Back in the early days of publication, it was firmly aimed at Margaret Thatcher’s hardline conservative government. George Orwell’s 1984 was oozing unstoppably toward the proletariat; and Moore, like so many others, was deeply concerned by the far reaching implications of zero tolerance, hardline conformity, constant surveillance and increasingly violent sectarian conflict flaring up at both a faster rate and increasing intensity. Incredibly enough, the pop duo Tears for Fears echoed the sentiments and these became the foundation for their album Sowing the Seeds of Love.
To think, without The Harlot’s Progress or The Drunkards Progress which – despite being delightfully risqué etchings and lithographs of the late nineteenth century which pandered so generously to the Temperance Movements of the time – were the foundation from which the medium arose. It’s really quite perverse and amusing, that a medium so carefully employed to communicate proper moral graces, would evolve into one of the best vehicles within which subversion and discontent could be voiced.
* “Tom” in Logan Hill; http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/02/okcupid-most-desired-people-in-new-york.html