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He was what?

SuperMarioGirl's picture

It's on this website:




Anne Dalke's picture

exploring a graphic novel in the form of a graphic paper...

Here's what I like about what you've done here: constructing, first, a paper around the notion of exploring something you don't understand. Designing it, second, along the model of Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics: exploring a graphic novel in the form of a graphic paper. Using, third, the resources of the internet to embed that series of active links to various frames of the narrative, so that there's a momentum and dynamism to your form. (How did you do this, technically? Did you photograph the images from the book, and then upload them?) That list of links to "what you know" is particularly effective; the evidence, assembled that way, is pretty overwhelming! Effective, too, is your use of yellow, then green highlighting, to call into focus her father's controlling role in Bechdel's life.

One thing in particular you bring into focus is an inquiry into the father's internal life. I'm not @ all sure that he's proud of who he is, as you say, or that he doesn’t ask Bechdel about her being gay because he doesn’t care. I'm also not sure that I agree that she "plays along" as his student; I would say that there's real intellectual curiosity there, which her father feeds, as her teacher. But your exploring those dimensions invites me to think more than I have in the past about how he sees the world, why he may have treated his daughter the way he did. I do appreciate your observation that he is as dependent on his daughter's attention as she is on his. In your handling, he becomes for me not only Bechdel's father, but a man struggling with his own identity, in a struggle which is incidentally, but not intentionally, damaging to his daughter.

Most interesting to me is the way you move from a clear denunciation of Bechdel's father to an awareness that you can't trust her account of him. Where I get very confused, though, is when you say, toward the end of your project, that Bechdel "does not portray her father in absolute truth." WHAT WOULD ABSOLUTE TRUTH LOOK LIKE? Is that a portrait w/out a perspective? A God's eye view? You say that Bechdel is "overly critical" of her father; but that criticism is a rendition of her emotional experience, her internal truth. How can you judge it as "too" critical? What's the standard for judgment? (See, for a nudge, Owl's posting about  the etymology of contradictions ....)

And then you say, in your finale, that "she could trust him too." Come again? What could she trust him to do, or to be? Perhaps her final gesture--portraying him as always "there to catch me when I leapt"--is (given the narrative you've traced so thoroughly) pure wish fulfillment?

So: my wish is that you activate the link to the website where this project resides--