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Who watches the Watchmen? I watch the Watchmen. Or rather, I watched Watchmen. And after watching, I've decided to abandon my first, admittedly weak essay proposal for one that would suit my interests. Basically, I'd like to explore the process of transforming graphic novels into film adaptations. Possible examinations include:

  • Selection criterion for choosing graphic novels to make into movie
  • Faithfulness of movies to graphic novels, both in terms of story and in style (why directors/producers choose to leave what scenes in and if their decisions are based primarily on production value)
  • Focus on Watchmen and Persepolis
  • Linear relationship of "literariness" from prose to graphic novel to film (this part is reminiscent of my original topic, in which I'd define what it means to be literary and attempt to discern whether or not comics can be such, and if so then why can't films...)
  • Linear adaptive relationships from prose to film (analyzing adapting techniques from prose to graphic ((possibly including my own/classmates adaptations)) and from graphic to film)

Admittedly, this topic is just as vague as my original, only now I'll be more than willing to put in the research efforts. Any advice towards a focal point within said topic would be greatly appreciated. (Original abstract included below)

The biggest challenge that this class has presented me with so far is the task of identifying (and staying behind) the line between legitimate literary criticism and overzealous extrapolation of themes that may or may not exist within the texts. (Yes, I'm that guy who questions the literary quality of certain "graphic novels") I mean, do Spiderman and Concrete really have as much to say about the fascinations of human existence and experience than, say, Black Hole and Persepolis? I don't believe so, and because I can't at this point say why exactly, I've decided to make it the topic of my term paper.

Essentially, I'll be trying to distinguish "Graphic Novels" from "Comix" (note the X). Now, the first step in this will of course be to identify what "literary" really means. More than simply slapping down a dictionary definition, I'm going to put this in historical context--tracking what's been considered literary throughout the history of prose narratives. Once (if) I settle down on a working definition of what it means to be "literary" in contemporary culture (the lines are blurred these days), I'll then start applying certain features of my definition to certain graphic novels and see what comes about. This of course will include both the characteristics of the narratives, drawings, and structure of the novel.

Seems a bit too simple? Unworthy of a full ten pages? Okay, there's a second part. It seems to me that the more autobiographical in nature these graphic novels get, the more "literary" they are. For examples, consider Jimmy Corrigan and Persepolis (I'm leaving Fun House out because I think it's an exception to the rule), which instinctively feel more dense than Scrooge. I don't think that the ratio of memoir-ic works included on our syllabus is a coincidence. So, an in-depth comparison of these works' characteristics and those that classify as "literary" may be in order. If it seems like I took the directions in the essay prompt that said something about letting the thesis develop out of research to the fullest, that's because I did.

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2 Comments

  1. To be perfectly blunt, and based upon the high quality of your response papers, I vote for "none of the above" in these abstracts.  Maybe it's just because there already are other projects exploring this boundary between graphic novel/comix, graphic novel/film, etc.  But really, take a look at these various suggestions and you'd probably never approach a literary text in the same way -- why was this novel chosen to be adapted into a film? etc etc.  I say begin with the premise of framing the project in terms something you're really wanting to spend some time with, and also give that work (which happens to be a graphic novel/comix) the credit it's due: as having something important to say.  Maybe take a look at some of the other projects to give you an expanded sense of possibility?  Or drop by during office hours to try out some half-baked ideas.  I'm perfectly fine with Watchmen in book and/or film form, but need to see a more idea-driven topic....

  2. Unknown User (ajk10)

    Ok,

    I have an idea where you are going with this, I think.  I think it would be worth reading into some basic film theory to be able to talk about axes and framing and diegetic and non-diegetic space, and how comics and films deal with that.  Additionally, avclub.com recently had an article called "21 graphic novels that should be turned into films" many of the texts we have read in class, including "Black Hole" and "Concrete" appeared on this list.  Might be worth looking into that.  I think that having a driving idea such as how the body is dealt with in films and graphic novels, for example The Comedian's varying bicep size in the the film and graphic novel, as well as how ideas and tones are portrayed.  An analogy would be looking at how stage actors act too big, and film actors can act too small.  I believe looking at some basic film theory, and ideas like "the gaze" would help define a more pointed topic.  Wikipedia is great for such exploits.