Authorial Influence in Graphic Novels - Justin Mirsky
Excluding the rather obvious author-story relation in Bechdel's Fun Home I feel we have greatly neglected the context of the author in the creation of a Graphic Novel. I believe there is a great amount that can be taken away from the graphic novel if it is known the context in which it is written. For example - what kind of person is Alan Moore, the mind behind Watchmen? Does Chris Ware of Jimmy Corrigan fame have actual paternity issues in his life, or did he just decide to write a story about them? I would like to look into the biographies of selected authors (I haven't quite decided who yet - we really haven't read enough to decide) and see how their lives might have influenced their graphic novels. I expect to find some interesting links in Persepolis and Maus, although I haven't read them yet and wonder if they may, like Bechdel's work, be too much of a memoir.
I think that by learning more about the creator of the graphic novel it might shed light on the actual intentions of the graphic novel - what inspired them, what were some important decisions they had to make during the course of writing/illustrating the comic, what was their original intention (did it change?) These are questions that are significant to the process of reading just about anything and for the most part it's been entirely avoided in all class discussion.
If it turns out that the memoirs dominate the readings, I might simply focus on them and question why use the comic book medium to tell the story? What are the benefits of using it? What about the disadvantages. I could compare the graphic novel memoirs to memoirs in the forms of books, movies, self portraits and any other medium that I can think of. With something like Persepolis I could even compare the movie to the comic - to talk about the different adaptations and choices. The same goes for a book like Angela's Ashes, which I believe has been adapted into a fairly awful movie.
Unfortunately, in regards to the first idea I'm foreseeing a few problems-- what kind of sources are there to use? How much is actually written about Chris Ware or some of the other relatively unknown authors/artists? I hope to be able to find a significant amount of information online, but aside from maybe Alan Moore I'm not sure how much information I'm going to find in significant journals or sources.