An Exploration of Cartoons

To be honest, I have never really “studied” the tones or styles of comics, but today I’m going to give it a shot.

In Yang’s “American Born Chinese” the artwork has a fifties feel to it. It’s set up rather like a graphic novel, but the subject is not super heroes.  Despite the lighthearted feel of the art, the piece featured in the book has a much darker aspect. The third to last panel helps the reader to see things from the perspective of the little boy: the dramatic pause, the darkened background. It all helps to create a scary ominous feel as the old lady explains that: “It’s easy to become anything you wish…so long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul” (Yang 50).

Gorey’s “The Hapless Child” has a dark feel right off. The excessively dark 1800’s style art give the reader a gloomy, unhappy feel. The story itself does nothing to improve that feeling, being about a child that loses both of her parents and gets sent to a boarding school that she hates. I don’t understand the point of the except, but if the intended effect was to depress the reader then the author succeeded

Next was Barry’s “Spelling” which features a loose crude drawing feel where all of the characters appear grotesque and hairy. The story is written from the author’s prospective as a young child, dealing with her annoying cousin. The story feels rather like it was meant more as a journal for the author to vent her frustration than for entertainment of the reader.

Of all the cartoons, I found Satrapi’s “The Trip” to be the most interesting. The story is a recreation of the author’s childhood growing up in Iran. The excerpt presented is focused on the author’s memory of the 1979 Iranian revolution, and the descent into tyranny. The story is a mix of tragedy in and humor. It is appalling for this little girl to see her country being ripped apart. But on the humorous side, Satrapi’s childhood dream of becoming like Madame Curie – in that she “[…] wanted to be an educated liberated woman. And if it meant getting cancer, so be it”(Satrapi 260) – adds a comical touch to the story.

Last but not least is Groening’s “Life in Hell.”  I feel like this except was meant to be more philisophical than funny. The strip is focused on a son who’s afraid of when he’ll die, and his father attempting to comfort him. Even though the second-to-last panel show that the dad didn’t buy anything he told his son, the strip still featured some profound thoughts. I liked most the idea that death is fair. really fair. It takes everyone: The rich, the poor, the kind, and the cruel. Death is equal in it’s selection, because everyone dies.

I wouldn’t have believed that a simple cartoon could contain so many ideas or so much information, but now that I’ve finished analyzing these I have changed my opinion. As a whole, this has been very intriguing .


1 Comment

  1. danielsbrown said,

    July 11, 2012 at 4:14 am


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