First Impressions of a Graphic Novel From A Virgin

Get your head out of the gutter- I’m a graphic novel virgin. Until this class, my only experience with comics and graphic novels was the scene in Juno (my favorite movie), where she talks about how bad ass it is that there’s a comic of a pregnant superhero called The Most Fruitful Yuki. It’s not that I hadn’t been interested, it’s just that they were less widely talked about in my social circles and communities, so I usually grabbed a plain novel instead.

This being said,I LOVED interactive fiction games in high school. If you’ve basically used any app ever that has ads, you’ve probably seen ads for apps like Episode: Choose Your Story, and Choices. I was obsessed with them in high school, and I guess in a way, they’re more of an interactive comic than a plain novel. The stories have pictures, speech bubbles, etc. The content of the stories makes me cringe now- but then, I thought it was incredibly fun and fascinating.

So here I was, reading the first part of the graphic novel, A Contract With God by Will Eisner, and I was actually shocked at how much I loved it. One thing specific to this particular novel that I loved was that the words narrating the novel weren’t just typed up and put beneath. They were a part of the picture, drawn and made to become a part of the world.

Another thing I found so cool was that everyone in the story has their own unique characteristics. You can hear their accents and pronunciations of words in the speech bubbles based on how Eisner spelled things. Now, this isn’t revolutionary (Or maybe it was at the time), and I say this because I’ve seen it in novels before, but I don’t see it often. I love when authors really work to be as descriptive as possible in what they want you to think about and see and hear from their characters, as I’m not a huge fan of ambiguity.

I think this page is a really good example of hearing the character’s voices and accent. She says things like “y’know” and “inside o’ you”. It makes the reader able to really hear her voice.

Along those same lines, it was so cool to see the characters drawn for you and not just to be up to the reader’s interpretation. I got to see the agony he felt when he daughter died by the pictures, and that made it resonate even deeper with me.

I act, so I know how powerful faces are to an audience. To create catharsis, to make audience members really feel something, it’s often vital to attach a living breathing being to a character. It’s almost impossible to read a novel and not create what the characters look like in your mind, but Eisner has done the work for you in this graphic novel which is something I think is very cool.

I am excited to read more graphic novels over the course of this class and broaden my horizons with different forms of literature and writing because I am very passionate about those two things. ALSO, as a shameless self-plug, I have a blog if you feel so inclined to check it out. Also, here is a link where you can by Eisner’s book if interested.


1 thought on “First Impressions of a Graphic Novel From A Virgin

  1. I’m curious about one thing you bring up here:

    If you’ve basically used any app ever that has ads, you’ve probably seen ads for apps like Episode: Choose Your Story, and Choices.

    I don’t see ads for these, so the fact that you do may have something to do with the fact that you used to play these games? I don’t know much about these. Are they “visual novel” style things where you have an image of a situation and have to make choices within a conversation?

    I teach a whole class on things like interactive fiction, by the way, though I’m not sure if we’re talking about the same thing, exactly.

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