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 I would like to explore the way in which Watchmen, Jimmy Corrigan, Fun Home, and possibly other graphic novels we will be reading  are  influenced by post-modernist literature; irony, the "simulacra," varying states of reality and time, non-linear narrative, humor, meta-fiction, fragmentation (the list goes on) are themes and techniques that theauthors/illustrators utilize in their respective graphic novels. Through comparison and contrast, I will describe how these components of postmodernism are used through out each, while also considering the author's intent and the effect it has on the reader.

 

            I want to include some Watchmen-esque mania in the paper as well. Specifically, there are two videos on youtube set in the 1970's. One is a 'news report' about Dr. Manhatten, another is entitled "The Keane act and YOU"- both create a fake reality within our actual reality, and although we are aware of this, the videos consciously direct (and manipulate?) the viewer into believing it is part of our reality. Another example of this beyond the graphic novel (although perhaps irrelevant) is how the Lost series uses this type of technique as well. There are websites that revolve around parts of the show to make it appear as though these fictional places/events/businesses actually exist.

 

         Since graphic novels are the combination of both words and pictures, I would also like to discuss the similarities and differences between post-modernist literature and the graphic novel, and the possible advantages or limitations that each genre presents. A few questions I've thought of: are graphic novels able to represent these post-modern ideas in a unique way because of the addition of visuals (keeping in mind novels like Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions). Can fragmentation be represented in panels without words? Even though a graphic novel is non-linear in certain ways, are they ultimately bound to chronology/sequence of events? Novels such as Naked Lunch by Burroughs and Alan Moore's Voice of the Fire, invite/ encourage readers to read non-linearly, to open up the book at any spot and move from there. Is this only possible with the written word? I obviously need to do research on whether or not this has been attempted/achieved in the graphic novel genre...which could be difficult considering  the immense amount of  graphic novels out there in the world.

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4 Comments

  1. Unknown User (sms28)

    It looks like you've got a good knowledge base of comics to draw from, and a solid understanding of post-modernist techniques to complement it.  I'm especially intrigued by the notion of commercially produced meta-realities.  Are there comics (aside from Watchmen) which have incorporated meta-realities like the Keane Act video or LOST experience?*  I also notice that a lot of these meta-realities have been created as part of multimedia advertising platforms.  LOST, for example, grew up out of a desire to promote the TV show, and the early online games featured explicit brand integration (clues to the LOST Experience would be hidden in Sprite and Jeep commercials and so on).  TheWatchmen videos were made to promote the movie.  This implies an interesting battle between art and commerce---how much of the post-modernist meta-reality was created for commercial purposes?

    Your abstract makes it look like you have an interest in non-linear comics.  I'm trying to think of examples of non-linearity aside from, you know, Jimmy Corrigan----one that I remember from when I was young involves the old Incredible Crash Dummies brand.  TYCO had three Crash Dummies comic books, and each one had at least one two-page spread that was sort of a cross between a Where's Waldo and a usual comic.  The entire setting of the comic book would be drawn on the spread in an almost map-like way, with different characters continuing their plot lines in different sections of the page.  I should still have those comics in my parent's home; I can look for them.

    I guess all this is a way of saying: I know nothing about post-modernism.  But it sounds like YOU do, so you should do well!  Also, a general warning good for any essay topic: be sure to keep your focus narrow.  Right now it seems like each paragraph of your original abstract could be a good paper. Be careful when you write to zero in a specific enough topic that you can devote an in-depth discussion to it. Also, you could try asking Joe of Joe's Comics for advice.  When I talked to him he seemed to have a good breadth of knowledge and he might be able to help you find titles for your thesis you might not think of yourself.

    Good luck!

    ---

    *Actually, I can kind of think of one.  Apparently back in the 80's "Captain Crunch" ran an advertising campaign where they did a Spider-Man/Captain Crunch crossover story. At least part of the advertising blitz was in comic form.  Scans of part of the story are here:

    <http://web.archive.org/web/20040806183831/http://www.trenchman.com/articles/article71204.html>

    The Eighties were a very strange time.**

    ---

    **And I thought of another one!  Although this one is Japanese, so I don't know if you're interested.  ".hack" was an experiment in brand synergy; a company created a bunch of different media----TV shows, video games, comics, and novels --all with interlocking storylines so that they would complement each other.  Wiki's here: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.hack>

  2. Unknown User (jfw3)

         This is all very interesting and you seem to have a good background to start from. But I wonder if your ideas aren't a little too big? Looking at how post-modernism influences graphic novels and how graphic novels portray postmodernism as opposed to standard literature are easily topics that could span two papers, particularly with the quantity of books you'll be looking at. I think you may find the latter more maneageble.The novels you have listed so far seem to really lend themselves to non-linear time (particularly Watchmen and anything having to do with Dr. Manhatten) but also Jimmy Corrigan involves a lot of fantasy and how does this effect the reader's perception of time? In the memoirs we've read there is a lot of jumping around  because we're sifting through the narrator's meories which are scattered and interrelated. How does the organization of time effect our perceptions of the characters and story? Do the images on the page help the process or complicate it?

         You may also wish to consider that we're moving beyond post-modernism today, and how does this effect our views?

  3. I agree with Jayme that your project, as described in this abstract, is headed for the fate of Oceanic Flight 815 if you don't narrow the scope of your topic a little.  Having got that out of the way, I'm very excited about the possibilities that you begin to enumerate.  One of the big questions you'll want to ponder first is whether comics have been influenced by postmodernism, or whether there's a more symbiotic relationship between the two modes of art -- I mean, Krazy Kat, Little Nemo, and other comix were doing some pretty self-referential things a long time ago.  Isn't it possible that comics facilitated more experimental postmodern fiction?  Pynchon references Plasticman in Gravity's Rainbow; Warhol & Lichtenstein obviously were indebted...Anyway, I'd say that EACH of your postmodern properties described in paragraph 1 might be a distinct project....I guess I find the idea of metafiction to be particularly fruitful; more specifically, Linda Hutcheon's ideas about "historiographic metafiction" seem to be a good fit for Watchmen and Jimmy Corrigan in particular.  But to tell you the truth, the thing that gets me the most geeked is a concept that you might call the "metaverse."  In comics, there are the various "universes" of Marvel, DC, etc., frequently specific to a given character.  But sometimes a "guest star" will drop in, and the physics/realities of differing worlds need to be reconciled.  That's why I don't think your mentions of the YouTube videos or Lost are unrelated; maybe back in the 1960s-80s this was unusual stuff, but by now the metaverse is triumphant and integral to the "viral marketing" strategies nicely characterized by Steve in his response.  The mythology & analysis of Burroughs probably is the best fit for this. I say go with that project, but you're the one who has to write it -- follow your gut feeling.  And regardless of what you decide to do, be wary of formulations like reality/fake reality, or similarities/differences; that's precisely the sort of dichotomy  postmodernism works to subvert.  I like this so far!

  4. Unknown User (alt11)

    Colleen, sorry this is late. I hope it is helpful, regardless.

    The most interesting part of your abstract, for me, is your interest in non-linear narrative. Jimmy Corrigan and Naked Lunch are a great comparison and it would be fun to explore the similarities/differences/techniques that the two novels have. Naked Lunch, for me, was an impossible read, however I really enjoyed Jimmy Corrigan and found it entertaining to decode the meaning behind the pictures/maps. Just like picture books for children build up to higher levels of reading, perhaps it could be said that non-linear graphic narratives such as Jimmy Corrigan are a stepping stone/guide for readers trying to conquer the thicker/more complex (in my opinion) Naked Lunch.

    I also like your comparison between the Watchmen movie and the LOST series. However, I am wondering how you plan on connecting the first paragraph of your abstract with the second. Perhaps this idea of creating "unrealities" could serve as the connecting factor. Just as the Watchmen and LOST take viewers into another world closely connected with our own, perhaps the authors of non-linear narratives do the same. In their fragmented rendering of stories and characters, they create new and original ways of deciphering and comprehending the world, and readers must enter that other plane of thinking in order to understand the intent and content of the narrative.