Title: Beyond Color and Linework: The Visual Literature of Graphic Novels
Presenter: Callie Norton
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Robert Clark
Abstract: In this research, the process of creating both chromatic and achromatic graphic novels is explored in order to refute arguments against the artistic and literary relevance of each of these classifications. It is performed by analyzing two graphic novels, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá’s Daytripper and Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. To articulate the methods used to illustrate these comics and the ways in which they work cohesively with their compelling storylines, their color usage and linework are examined according to the effects they have on their narratives. The impacts of these illustrative techniques are understood to be intended by the artists, as the artists implement their psychological understanding of color, mechanical skills, funds, and overall consideration of each page’s panel; in each step of their separate processes, the artists of both chromatic and achromatic graphic novels keep the reader in mind. The techniques utilized for both classifications are then studied on a broader scale. Color, when used carefully, allows for a more immersive experience that supports the narrative, as indicated in Daytripper. If used without careful precision, such as in the early 1930s comics that used bold, primary colors, the hues on each page can mute themselves out and fail to convey meaning. Because of this period of the Golden Age of Comic Books, associations with chromatic comics in mass culture has caused them to be rendered as low-brow and irrelevant. Further, there are arguments that only graphic novels are high-brow, relevant, and strictly achromatic because of Maus: A Survivor’s Tale’s success. The author and artist himself, Art Spiegelman, questions the validity of this division between graphic novels and comics, further aiming to denote the superiority of one classification over the other. It is concluded that both graphic novels and comics—one in the same and either chromatic or achromatic—demonstrate that they are artistically and literarily impactful; through the mindful and costly efforts exhibited by the artists to enhance the reader’s experience, both classifications are well-accomplished and relevant.