Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Golden age of the Graphic Novel

I think one of the greatest pieces of learning that I will take away from this unit, will be my exploration into Graphic literature.

I have been blown away by this medium. I started with reading Tetzner's novel 'The Black Brothers', with it's striking scratchwork black and white drawings. This story based on the boy chimneysweeps of Italy, is a graphic adaption of Tetzner's 1940 novel. I then moved to a graphic adaption of 'The City of Embers' (DuPrau, 2012) which I loved and am looking forward to reading the original version, and seeing the movie. Deutsch's Hereville: How Mirka got her sword (2010), was an enjoyable read, based around a Jewish heroine, set in a Jewish village. Remarkably, (to me at least) was the Author's note at the end of the book, explaining that he drew Hereville on his computer using Photoshop and a Cintiq tablet. How fabulous to know how the author created the work and how possible it is for any of us to do the same (my ICT knowledge is growing - and who knows - maybe I'll be photoshopping soon too!).

I have an amazing book in my hands right now. 'The Graphic Canon: Volume 1'  edited by Russ Kick.

It is a graphic anthology of the world's greatest literature as comics and visuals. Kick begins his introduction stating 'We're living in a golden age of the graphic novel' where talented artists, using every tool at their disposal are 'creating amazing, gorgeous, entertaining and groundbreaking material'. This volume, contains 55 graphic literature works from early literature works through to the 1700'. Graphic adaptions of The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Book of Revalation, Beowulf, The Divine Comedy, The Canterbury Tales, King Lear, Gulliver's Travels, Dangerous Liaisons. Kick asked the artists to stay true to the source material - no setting in the future, no creating new adventures. Excerpts or abridgements for longer materials were allowed. And within that framework, Kick describes the results as a

 'vast, rich, kaleidoscope of art and literature. A rainbow of visual approaches applied to the world's trasure trove of great writings, and something wondrously new has taken shape.'

While I found a number of the renditions a bit too graphic for my liking (especially the sexually graphic aspect of some them), I absolutely love the idea that is behind this, and can think of a number of students that I have taught over the years, with a phenomenal amount of artistic talent, who could have benefited from using their talent in such a way.

 Kick hopes that the Canon is an educational tool, that it leads people to read the original works. It could be an amazing resource to use with students in both upper, middle and high school although, with the very graphic elements in some of the stories, it is definitely NOT an appropriate book for shelving in the collection. It is a book though that I would I would say it is definitely worth a look at, even if just to broaden your knowledge of the variety of graphic artistry being produced and challenge you as to how you could use this concept in the classroom/ library. There are some really lovely, and suitable renditions, one such for primary students would be the absolutely gorgeous version of 'Coyote and the Pebbles' (story be Dayton Edmonds, Art by Micah Farritor).

Looking forward to reading Volumes 2 and 3.
Kick, R (ed.). (2012). The Graphic Canon. New York: Seven Stories Press.

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