Thursday, December 4, 2008

December 4th - Computer Lab

Hey, everyone!  I figured I'd let you know that although I won't be in class today, I will be watching the computer lab (A109) from noon until about five of two.  Feel free to come in and ask me questions, or to get another pair of eyes on your writing.

If you need outside help - just email me @

I am totally happy to help!  I can also answer questions about an RPW major or minor.  Good luck in the workshop today!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Paper #3

Hey, all!  We are getting pretty close to the end of the semester, here, and I just want you all to know that I am still here to help.  Feel free to send me partial drafts, full drafts, rewrites or thesis ideas to me for advice or proofreading.  This paper should be easier for you than the second one, because you now have practice writing analysis.  It's not super-easy, though, and if you need any help at all, please let me know.

Things to consider:

What stood out to you about Maus and/or Persepolis?

What did you like/hate about these memoirs?

Re-read the list of topics that we generated in class about the consistencies and inconsistencies between the two books.  There is some excellent stuff there! 

Monday, October 27, 2008

"There Are No Cats In America"

Maus reminds me of An American Tail so hardcore.  Is anyone with me on this?  

We are used to seeing cats as comically aggressive to mice in cartoons.  Tom & Jerry just couldn't get enough of each other.  I think they still kick each other around the screen on cable.  An American Tail has cats as slightly more sinister, but ultimately you knew the mice were gonna be ok.  Maus has this cast of characters, and is drawn as a cartoon, but has a completely different tone from either of these other examples.

The illustrations in Maus are so dark, and so serious.  Bechdel was serious, but her book feels nothing like this.  I think Spiegleman's lines look like he was pressing down very hard on his pen.  It was not as planned as Bechdel - his illustrations looked almost rushed.  I think this lends such a feeling of urgency to the story.  Adding to this are his manic, addictive personality and his father's ill health.

Why do you think he wrote this book?  What does his illustration tell you about his point of view?  Do you think there is any truth to the McCloud idea that if you can make a character less specific they are easier to relate to?  These are mice and cats and pigs - yet humans.  This is not an accident.  Why use them?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oh, Yeah!

and...don't forget about McCloud!

pg 70 for transitions

pg 156 for relationship between words and pictures

pg 170 for the six steps of creating art

Thesis Ideas

Sorry these are later than expected!  

I used all of your ideas and a few of my own.  Some are full theses, others are just random thoughts - to try and stimulate your imagination!

Good luck!

  • Throughout Fun Home and Blankets, the authors use illustration very differently to convey emotion.
  • The parent-child relationships in both books are represented in very different ways.
  • Thompson's whimsical, dream-like (or, Bechdel's realistic, textual) illustrations are far more effective as tools to tell a story.
  • Thompson's memoir is almost timeless, while Bechdel's is fixed.
  • Bechdel portrays herself realistically, while Thompson's self-portrayal was abstract.  (You may want to expand on this one.)
  • Being less/more abstract, Bechdel's/Thompson's illustrations do a better job of portraying emotion/movement/a sense of time.
  • The abstract nature of Thompson's illustrations and poetic language create a dream-like atmosphere, while Bechdel's detailed, realistic panels suggest a more solid reality.
  • Think about the differences/similarities in how the two authors portray:
  1. Authority Figures
  2. Weather
  3. Faces
  4. Books
  5. The Written Word (Representations of Text)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thoughts on The First Paper

Don't forget about McCloud!  The structure of the memoirs themselves is a GREAT start to an analytical paper.

Find things about the books that you LOVE - and start there.  If you're just writing about something because you think you're supposed to, you'll hate it.  This is your chance to be creative!

I am here to help - and so is Dr. Nels.  Don't hesitate to ask any kinds of questions!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Death in Comics

I am surprised at how powerful a graphic novel can be.  Previous to reading the materials for this class, I had passing affairs with graphic novels.  Maus was introduced to us while studying the holocaust in junior high, and in high school I fell in love with a comic book character called "Jonny the Homicidal Maniac."  Both of these dealt with death - in the case of the first - so seriously, and about a topic I was very familiar with.  In the case of the "Jonny" books - the death (and maiming, disemboweling, etc.) was used as more of a metaphor - and was there for entertainment value.

In "Fun Home" - Alison Bechdel shows us a death that is very real, and it hits home for me.  This memoir makes me think about "big picture" things - like meaning in life.  Her use of color intrigues me, as does her casual, almost child-like drawing style.  I am absorbed immediately in her world.  I think one of her strongest points is her transitions - which do you think are the most effective?