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Kathryn LeFevre

Paper Abstract

                Recently I acquired the autobiography of Charles Schultz, the well know comic strip creator. As a child, Charlie Brown and Snoopy were constants in my house and I find it very interesting to see how much of Schultz life is put into his comics. Though I know that Schultz is not considered a "graphic novelist", he still creates an ongoing story with a group of central characters detailing their adventures of growing up and learning about the world. So how does this relate to my intended topic? For my final paper I want to explore the use of autobiography in graphic novels as well as comics.

                Hopefully, I intend on using Jimmy Corrigan and Fun Home  as my graphic novel examples in order to make my argument more concrete. In the case of Jimmy Corrigan, the author himself has a tumultuous relationship with his absentee father. Like Jimmy, he goes and meets his father and never really gets to know the man and regrets it when he passes away. Because it is a graphic novel, the author is able to explore his  difficult relationship a little bit more extensively, and with the graphics included it adds a different vibe than if it were just a biography.  In the case of Fun Home, the author makes it evident that this is a story about herself and how she grows up in a home full of lies and secrets.  She is very honest about her past and I hope  to compare the two graphic novels and possibly explore the difference between the authors.

                As for comics, right now I am going to look at and finish the biography of Charles Schultz, and the choices that he makes in including his life in his comics. I also plan on looking at other comics like Zits and maybe one other (any suggestions?) and figure out what and why a comic would choose to include themselves in their short narrative, and how they do so.

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  1. Unknown User (fdl1)

    This may be a cool idea and it might be fun to compare Peanuts with Shultz's life, and you might want to look at the illustrations and what the pictures show about the author. It might be good to consider how a cartoonist draws him or herself and maybe you can draw parallels to famous artists and their personal portraits (Van Gogh).

    Are you comparing and contrasting two authors and their autobiography or are you comparing texts to their authors? Are you studying the genre of autobiography and graphic novels or are you comparing different books? You have listed four different comics and I kind of feel like that incorporating more than two or three will veer towards plot synopsis rather than analyzation. Since this is a "research paper" maybe it would be good to look at sources that analyze autobiography as a genre to give you an argument. Maybe it would be better to really study one text- Peanuts would be great- and really go into detail as to what it means for Schultz (or whoever) to incorporate themselves in a ficticious world.Maybe you want to consider the author as drawing or writing himself in as a real person in a cartoon world- Roger Rabbit or even Howie Mandel in Bobby's World (one of my favorite cartoon's as a kid): autobiography as launching oneself into a world where anything can happen. But I don't want to impose my ideas on you.

    Maybe it would be really great to go into detail about how autobiography lends itself to graphic novels and presents itself as a good medium to bring up more personal issues. Maybe it would be neat to look at how writing and drawing autobiography is somehow therepeutic and can conquer bigger personal battles. I think you're on to something good, it just needs to be focused and examined more deeply.

  2. Unknown User (srm9)

    Perspective can play a fairly large part in this paper for you. I wonder if Schultz gained a new perspective on his life by revisiting his childhood memories so often. It would be interesting to see if there are any interviews with him or Ware or any of the other autobiographical authors we have encountered so far this semester.I don't think its possible for something to author a work and not leave behind something of themselves in it.
    I couldn't think of any other works that could serve as a basis for your paper, but if I do I will put it up here.

  3. So far, there are perhaps 3-4 other projects ( 1, 2 , 3) that have a starting point somewhat similar to yours -- comics and memoir/autobiography -- and I've been trying to identify what's most unique or idiosyncratic in each so that a) you have a little more room for your own distinctive topic and b) to keep the paper from getting too general ("Comics and Autobiography").  That being said, the part about Charles M. Schulz and Peanuts tends to stand out most to me.  I've read some reviews of the biography you reference, and it sounds as though much of CSM's emotional turmoil was buried quite deeply beneath his impassive characters.  I don't think it's a stretch to argue that Jimmy Corrigan at least obliquely references Peanuts in its small frames & at-times static faces/scenes/emotions -- or is it more a matter of careful muting and modulation, as with Schulz?  There are a couple of interviews out there where Chris Ware explains how his strip has at least some relation to his own familial background: CNN interview, Guardian interview.  Seems like there's enough there for a paper, not so much about the biographies of the respective artists as a certain tone & strategy of reticence.  For these and other reasons you might want to leave Bechdel out, although in other contexts she might be the best pairing.  Which of the various titles you mention would be the last to get cut?  If it's Fun Home or Zits, then you probably need to reframe the topic.....Stay in touch!