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Towards Day 18: Graphic History

Anne Dalke's picture


Course Notes by EVD

I. coursekeeping

today's notetaker: EVD

for Tuesday, read 1/2 (first 100 pp. of) Anat Berko's The Path to Paradise: The Inner World of Suicide Bombers and Their Dispatchers

II. for today, continuing to read the graphic adaptation

from your postings:
ckosarek, Emotional Reaction to the Commission Report?  The first chapter of the graphic representation of the 9/11 report struck me the hardest .... Maybe the power of these first few pages is found in the fact that they are factual rather than anecdotal or personal or emotional. By presenting "just the facts", it seems that the authors invite readers to fill in their own emotions. The pages don't tell you how to feel. They don't tell you to be angry at the mismanagement of authority that day. They don't tell you to be angry with the terrorists. They don't tell you to be sad about the lives lost. They present what happened in timeline format and let you make of it what you will. Their power is in the choice of readers to feel and relive - or not.

kgould, Subjective, Objective, Slapdash:
we mentioned  how one form may be more or less objective than another...I think we need to be careful when we talk about this ... I don't know that anything is really objective. Everything is edited. Everything is constructed. And we construct everything ourselves, with our interpretations-- and all of it is done with a purpose, realized or not. To place prose on a pedestal, on outside sources shedding light on the situation and making them more objective, not only does it seem to give us a false sense of security and of "realness," but it does a disservice to the experience of film and graphic narrative. Those forms are no less "true" or "real" than prose .... That said, I had trouble reading the Graphic Adaptation as a graphic novel ... It seemed to me a rushed or slapdash attempt at graphic narrative, that they chose this form because it seemed to be easier to read or understand but didn't fully understand how to utilize the medium.

veritatemdilexi, The Ends do not Justify the Means: I was stunned at some of the visual and graphic representations that were used in the 9/11 graphic edition-this very same method of over simplification and racial stereotyping is one of the direct causes of terroristic activities.  Irony is humorous in a fictional story ... but when irony describes a body of work that is supposed to educate the public, especially on something as grave as terrorism, it is tragic ... who are the targeted audience of the graphic representation of the 9/11 report? If they are children or a younger audience ... than extra caution should be exercised ...Crucial political and executive opinions are boiled down into short five or six word statements ... the grading of the improvements in national security at the close ... does not give specific examples of failings or successes ... it merely assigns them a letter grade ... the authors of more streamlined texts use racial, national, and ethnic stereotypes to present the story of 9/11

smacholdt: a large part of the writers’ purposes were to simplify the report enough that the average person could read and digest it ... it was done well. I was able to better understand the events leading up to 9/11 .... Reading this graphic adaptation showed me how much of the event was due to human error and negligence .... I was interested  to better understand what actually happened on September 11th. At the same time, I felt slightly sick with myself that I was so interested in re-learning about the event, and in a way, re-experiencing it.
Page 30 struck me for many reasons. The back and forth question and answer structure of the page really conveyed the power of the interview ... In addition, the last picture on the page of just Bin Ladin’s eye was very dramatic. It reminded me of a close-up shot in a movie ... The backdrop of the page is a clock- maybe to convey how time before an attack is running out? 
jaranda: this adaptation could have made better use of the graphic form, since there are places where there is more text than there are images (page 44) .... the way it is presented is not very easy to understand. I think page 78 is a good example of how difficult this adaptation can be to read ... a lot of different images on the page, ranging from black and white counterterrorism officials to a red truck speeding towards the White House ... also a lot of text boxes ... laid out... pretty much all over the place ... I just had kind of hard time figuring out to navigate through it.
maht91: the graphic part of the report removed the sense of formality and seriousness of the issue ... was simplified  .... I was confused trying to follow the narrative of the book ... the colors in the 9/11 Report added a layer of complexity and made it harder to follow. In a written text ... there would only be one focus, the words. But in the graphic adaptation, there is more than one element that the reader needs to place emphasis on .... there is more room for bias ... the selectivity of the images and text ... I believe that the text form of the report would add more accuracy

III. further prods/questions, from Scott McCloud's
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, towards some other close readings?

  • defined as "sequential visual art," spatially juxtaposed (in cf. w/ movies, where successive frames are projected on exactly the same space, in comics, each frame must occupy a different space)
  • the art of comics is subtractive
  • cartooning is amplification through simplification: abstracting an image by focusing on specific details, stripping it down to its essential "meaning": a way of seeing, of focusing our attention
  • the cartoon is a vacuum into which our identity and awareness are pulled: an empty shell which enables us to travel
  • by de-emphasizing the appearance of the physical world in favor of the idea of form, the cartoon places itself in the world of concepts--and portrays the world within
  • icons demand our participation to make them work: observing the parts and perceiving the whole is called closure
  • comics fracture time and space into unconnected moments; we connect them and mentally construct a continuous, unified reality: human imagination takes two separate images and transforms them into a single idea
  • the reader's deliberate, voluntary closure is comic's primary means of simulating time and motion
  • no matter how dissimilar one image may be to another (in action, subject, scene, aspect), we find resonance between them
  • panels act as a general indicator that time or space is being divided
  • when bleeds are used--when a panel runs off the edge of the page--time is no longer contained, but hemorrhages into timeless space
  • in comics, both past and future are real and visible and all around us

  • some more examples/particular readings of particular pages??

    Course Notes by EVD