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Published: 08-11-2019

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Illustration and Text Interaction Modes in Fun Home

It is usually believed that graphic novels and comics are in some way much less sophisticated or all round lesser than conventional novels, as if the use of illustrations rather than extended text descriptions makes it a a lot more simplistic medium. Even so, the blending of illustrations and text in graphic novels creates just as complicated of an knowledge, I think, and offers an interesting opportunity to analyze the modes of interaction among text and illustrations. In this paper, I will be seeking closely at Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Entertaining Property to establish some of the ways that the use of illustrations enriches the experience of reading this book. I will show, by means of evaluation of different passages from the book, that the illustrations assistance the text by revealing the nature of the partnership in between Alison and Bruce, making use of precise imagery that reflects the text, and supplying further insight into the way the artist and writer of the book views her world and the individuals in it. The connection amongst Alison and Bruce becomes easier for the reader to understand when seeking at the subtleties in their interactions, for example a conversation among them in Bruce’s library from page 84-86 which highlights how their connection is typically cold and strained by Bruce’s disconnect with reality, and the scene amongst them on page 220 and 221 in the car on their way to a movie which depicts the intense struggle it is for them to communicate regardless of their overwhelming similarities. Precise imagery that supports the text can be found when comparing the first and last scenes in the book, which both function Alison as a young youngster represented as if she is flying whilst she and Bruce’s partnership is compared to the myth of Icarus, and page 134 which represents Alison’s emotionally distant “artists’ colony,”(134) household in their personal isolated inventive bubbles in the house. Additional insight into Alison’s view of the planet can be gained by searching at examples of how she visually represents masculinity and femininity, for example the way she portrays the effeminate gay guys in New York on page 190 and really masculine way she draws herself throughout the book. The numerous scenes from pages 12-21 exactly where Alison draws Bruce as an ominous shadow like figure are also notable, as they show what an intimidating force her father was to she and her family.

When the illustrations are analyzed as nicely as the text in Enjoyable Residence, further insight into the relationship among Alison and Bruce can be gained. A single instance of this is the scene among them in Bruce’s library on pages 84-86. In text, Alison muses about her father’s mysterious methods, describing his “preference of a fiction to reality,” (85) and the eerie similarities between his death and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, as if Bruce had planned it that way. Bruce is a mystery to her – he has a complex inner globe that his daughter will by no means recognize or infiltrate, so she is left speculating after his death. Simultaneously, the pictures play out a seemingly mundane scene among Alison and Bruce in which she asks him for cash to buy books. They are noticeably cold to each other for a father and daughter. They say only the minimum quantity to each and every other and by no means make eye make contact with all through the scene. Bruce in no way looks up from his book (a biography of Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda) and appears entirely indifferent to Alison’s presence and queries. He sits surrounded by his books, reading in an armchair, looking focused and critical. Bruce is not able to break his concentration on literature for his daughter and remains in his personal planet regardless of her. Alison on the other hand has a slightly agitated facial expression, as if she dreads having to speak to her father. She is experiencing the very same frustration about being locked out of her father’s globe as she does when questioning his death as she writes the text portion of the book. The text is not describing literally what happens in the illustrations, however, the two elements of the scene function collectively to construct a single which means: Alison’s distance from the mysterious figure that is her father. Another scene which explores their connection is the scene in Bruce’s vehicle on pages 220 and 221, in which they guardedly try to talk about their sexuality for the very first time. The only text in the scene is their dialogue and some of Alison’s thoughts in the moment. The full spread of identical small square panels creates a feeling of suspense as if they are frozen in time. “I kept nonetheless, like he was a splendid deer i didn’t want to startle.” (120). The layout of the scene creates the intensity and stillness that she is feeling completely in that decisive moment where she almost makes a connection with her enigmatic father. Their speedily shifting facial expressions from one particular box to the next makes them each appear nervous. The sameness of the boxes, except only for the text and facial expressions of the characters, reflects the sameness of Alison and Bruce that is so apparent in this scene. They each have difficulty communicating but want to open up, they have struggled with numerous of the identical troubles connected to their queer identities, they are each challenged by their complicated partnership. They are even drawn with comparable facial characteristics, such as their noses and jawlines, which is straightforward for the reader to notice when they are drawn side by side in repeating square panels for two whole pages.

Exciting Residence is clearly a meticulously crafted book, so it is not surprising that subtle imagery in the illustrations is often operating to reinforce the text. The initial instance of this is the comparison among the scene on the couple of first pages of the book which shows Alison as a young kid playing “airplane” with her father, and the scene on the last couple of pages, which shows her once again as a young youngster jumping into a pool as Bruce prepares to catch her. In both scenes, Alison is represented with her arms outstretched, in the air above her father as if she is flying. This is a subtle way of reflecting the text as it explores the Greek myth of Icarus, the son of the inventor Daedalus who flew so close to the sun that it melted his fake wings made of wax and feathers, and it’s reflection on Alison and Bruce. “In our particular re enactment of this mythic relationship, it was not me but my father who was to plummet from the sky.”(4). In getting the ending of the book reflect the beginning, Alison brings the reader back to the central theme of the book: her relationship with her father. By illustrating these uncommon childhood moments when she felt close to her father, she brings the story away from the mysteries and complex analyses of him, and back to a place of really like and innocence. In spite of by no means comprehend Bruce, she nevertheless considers him her father and avoids depicting him as a villain in her story. A second instance of imagery that reinforces the text of the book is on page 134, which characteristics an illustration of what life in Alison’s childhood property was like. “Our house was like an artists’ colony. We ate with each other, but otherwise had been absorbed in our own separate pursuits,” (134). Each of Alison’s parents have been quiet and unaffectionate folks who instilled the same values in their young children. She describes how she felt neglected as a child due to her parents’ “creative solitude” (133), but quickly learned to find joy the identical way. On page 134, the Bechdel household members are depicted as silhouettes in isolated bubbles across different parts of the property, all engaged in some creative activity. A home is somewhere that is anticipated to be lively and warm, but the feeling in this illustration is one of loneliness. The literal depiction of them in bubbles and the fact that they are only silhouettes with out faces or expressions tends to make the property seem extremely impersonal and distant. The emotional coldness of Alison’s loved ones is constantly apparent in Entertaining Property, but this is definitely the ideal representation of it.

The visual aspect of Exciting Home also enables us to much better grasp how its writer and illustrator views the globe. The book deals heavily with the concept of gender and defying gender roles, so it is exciting to look at how stereotypes of masculinity and femininity are represented visually. 1 instance is on web page 190, when Alison and her loved ones are on a trip to New York and she is exposed to the gay community for the initial time. She is fascinated by “cosmeticized masculinity,” (190) that she sees in gay males, and depicts 1 man walking down the street with ideal hair, thick eyelashes, pierced ears, and wearing tight pants. A male ballet dancer in a show she goes to see is also drawn in an sophisticated pose while dancing. These factors are clearly striking as feminine to Alison, and seem unnatural or strange in males to her. An additional instance of gender part depiction is that throughout the book, Alison is drawn in a quite masculine way. She rebels against wearing anything girly as a child, and even in instances where she feels forced to wear a dress or skirt, such as her father’s funeral, they are plain and modest. The rest of the time, Alison is drawn with brief hair and either androgynous or typically male clothing. When I 1st began reading Exciting Property with no any prior information of the book, I assumed that Alison was a boy for the 1st couple of pages until her gender was stated. Gender and gender roles are discussed at length in the text of the book, but having visual representations reinforce this gives us as readers an even far better thought of how Alison is affected by the gender roles she sees about her, and helps us question our own views of what kind qualities we see as either masculine or feminine. Yet another instance of how Alison’s perception of the globe is subtly reinforced by the illustrations is the recurring situations in which her father is depicted as an ominous silhouette from pages 12-21. On page 12, following Alison accidentally breaks a glass vase, she is depicted holding the broken peice, searching terrified, as Bruce’s shadow looms over her. On web page 16, he lurks behind her as she cleans a lamp. On page 21, he stands in at threshold of her bedroom right after reading her a bedtime story and turning out the lights. The text explains how living with Bruce is always unpredictable and a constant source of anxiety for his family who are trapped, ever avoiding his wrath. “The continuous tension was heightened by the truth that some encounters could be quite pleasant. His bursts of kindness were as incandescent as his tantrums were dark.” (21). The metaphor of the labyrinth from Greek mythology is employed as well, to equate their extravagant residence with the labyrinth and Bruce’s dark side with the minotaur hiding inside. The portrayal of him as absolutely nothing a lot more than a dark shadow makes him appear strange and inhuman, even monstrous, in moments when Alison sees him as threatening. Even as a kid, she knows that her father has an ominous dark side which might be waiting about any corner, and she reinforces this extremely successfully by utilizing creepy imagery of him as silhouette.

In the graphic memoir Exciting Residence by Alison Bechdel, the text interacts with the illustrations in numerous exciting techniques. Details located in the illustrations enable us to study much more into the relationship among Alison and Bruce and add to our understanding gained from the text. Precise imagery is utilized to reflect and reinforce what is written in the text. Lastly, close evaluation of Alison’s drawings assists us to much better grasp how she views her globe and the men and women in it. Entertaining Property and the graphic novel medium all round are fascinating, despite the fact that vastly various from the standard novel. Illustrations combined with text, when they perform together properly, are just as successful as text alone at creating a complicated and multi layered narrative of which deep understanding can be gained.
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