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.