luni, 29 septembrie 2014

Alexandru Oprescu : "The Graphic Novel" (7)

Alexandru Oprescu
The great contribution that the comic book, and later its ‘cousin,’ the graphic novel, has had on pop-culture makes it a subject that needs to be analyzed with much more rigorousness, especially the way in which it has drawn from the literary and visual arts and created a new medium of expression. Through this endeavor, not only the result of this metamorphose of arts is to be discovered, but it also highlights the almost infinite metamorphic value that literature, drawing, painting have, alone or, in this case, combined—ultimately the human imagination channeled through more and more different forms of expression.
It is in the capacity of no other art currently known to put to use, with an exquisitely natural result, the other arts of human culture, and this is why the graphic novel can be considered the ultimate metamorphosis of the visual-textual dimension.

In the four chapters of the paper, it is this natural need of the evolved human intellect to condense its widespread preferences into new mediums of expression that is emphasized, destructuring this “ninth art from” into its basic elements that appeal tothe human cognition. It is only through this destructuring that the influence of the other arts and dimensions can be observed in their most shaping form.
Before diving into the more analytical areas, it is of a great importance to clearly define the subject matter and place it in its proper context. Starting from this, the first chapter, titled Defining the Comic, shows the complex variables that must be taken into account if one wishes to produce an encyclopedic definition that can clearly identify this medium. Being almost a dead end, the proposition of setting some common characteristics across the medium is forwarded. These very few characteristics must be identified (one of them being iconic solidarity), in a space that can be called the field of comics, in order to avoid particularities and thus postulate an axiom, rather than a theory that must be (dis)proven.
The second chapter, The History of Comics, puts the comic book in its historical context. It is also through these external events that the origins and development of these internal mechanisms can be understood, and also it can give valuable insight in the future growth. From its almost literary values of preserving historical events through the narrations, to the impacts and influences it had on its readers, analyzing the comic in its time and place of existence can only bring benefits and further understanding of the next chapters.
Forms of Comics and the Cognitive Process of Reading Them is the third chapter and deals with the intellectual, conscious or subconscious, understanding of the comic, starting from its prejudice generating names and delving into the aspect of reading it. It is of growing consensus that the comic book and graphic novel are actually the same, this differentiation being created by the marketing attempt to avoid those prejudices that the term comic is literature for children or sub-literature. With the recession of this preconception in the last years, the term graphic novel, and many others that have the same function, is losing its initial purpose and the comic title is regaining its strength, free of the negative aspects. This note had to be done in order to not have this artificial segregation confuse the reader of the paper, which favors the term comic.
The chapter continues by showing that the comic is actually a language, being based on the fundamental principles that writing is based on—iconic symbolism. So even though the statement “reading a comic” might seem odd when thinking it is a book of imagery predominance, it is actually a much more complex and subconscious level of reading than the common, literary one.
The fourth and last chapter, The Spatio-Topical Realm, highlights the process of creating a comic book. It is the important role of panels, frames, hyperframes, pages and their co‑dependency that doesn’t leave anything to hazard, but the careful planning of the artist, no more different than a writer that prepares his novel or a painter that sketches out the first lines of his painting. But unlike the writer and the painter, the comic book artist uses both mediums, creating a new composition, natural and pleasing to the reader, which taps in the same subconscious language of the human brain like all the other arts. Through these elements presented in this chapter, the comic book shows that it is not a superficial process, but a well thought one that implements the finest elements of the other arts to construct a new medium of communication.
It is with this paradigm of a complex art form that one must research further into the subject matter, and it is inevitable that even in the foreseeable future new breakthroughs will be made in the study of the comic book, as long as more and more scholars will thrust their intelligence and writing pens at the modern art. It is a process that can also be sped up by the readers themselves, if more of them realize the artistic and intellectual traits of the medium and increase the demand for high quality comic books.

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