Comic Books As History Essay

September 26, 2017

Golden Papers

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Comic books have long been regarded as a genre of literature for the immature and the trivial. The in writing representation of a narrative at first glimpse provides a lightweight medium to transport a serious message. The use of two types of media. the written word and the in writing portraiture. serves as a struggle of messages. a breach in the integrity of signifier. However. in Joseph Witek’s book entitled Comic Books as History. he provides instance points and works where amusing books have both the authorization every bit good as the genuineness to appropriately function as a medium for portraying history.

Who has the right to talk?

When does the spread between art and life become so broad that fiction becomes a profane prevarication?

Witken p. 38

These are the inquiries put forth by Author Joseph Witek in chapters 4 & A ; 5 of his Comic Books as History. The first. “who has the right to talk? ” denotes an active hunt for a medium with authorization to portray dark parts of history. And few events could be much darker than the Holocaust. The epoch of the rise of Hitler and the Nazis and their atrociousnesss to the Judaic people beg the inquiry of how to portray it. The repugnance of supplying aesthetic description to an evil event stems from authors’ reserve in taking another people’s enduring as their ain.

And yet. if the option is silence. so future coevalss will be unable to see a representation of those dark yearss. If the silence were to digest. so no disapprobation. understanding. no sorrow. no emotion whatsoever would be imparted to those incognizant. Therefore. as Witek asserts. the alternate to hush is to talk out with a medium that resonates with both the authorization to talk. and the genuineness to make so. which he implies in the 2nd inquiry “When does the spread between art and life become so broad that fiction becomes a profane prevarication? ” .

In Art Spiegelman’s autobiographical amusing Maus. the topic of the Holocaust and its subsisters was taken up. To Witken. Spiegelman’s work is a believable medium to undertake the holocaust because he has the necessary authorization and genuineness to make so. The authorization. Witken claims. comes from a “personal psychological necessity” . Maus for Spiegelman is a sort of therapy. a manner to grok his ain history. both as a individual and as a Jew.

The amusing becomes a manner to transgress a spread produced by the Holocaust. a distance between the Jews who experienced. and those who did non. This is apparent in the portraiture of the interactions between Art and his Father Vladek. most perceptibly in the scene demoing devising of Maus. The interactions show transference of the hurting. the hurting of the Holocaust to the male parent. and as a consequence. determining the male parent to a being that brings emotional hurting to the boy.

In a scene in the Prisoner on the Hell Planet. the narrative of Spiegelman’s mental torment as a consequence of his female parent is portrayed. Spiegelman feels that the emotion he feels from his parents is caused by their experiences in the holocaust and yet. he is unable to understand how those experiences shaped their individual. Thus. in a manner. the Maus was written to supply an apprehension of cognition merely present at the dorsum of the heads of the coevals of Jews after the Holocaust. A coevals. who like Spiegelman. won’t be content with merely silence.

To successfully portray history. the truth of the inside informations is non plenty to achieve genuineness. The inclusion of every emotion felt. and every though. every bit good as their representation. And it is in this representation that Spiegelman defends his usage of animate beings alternatively of people. In order to go through through the reliable message. the usage of people would necessarily demo a false image. but in utilizing animate beings. Spiegelman portrayed the emotions as they are. non as people show them to be. This is apparent in the duologue of Art seeking to pull his married woman. The usage of animate beings is limited to merely portraying the subjects. bestiality. extinction. but the humanity of each character is still at that place.

Another instance point in Witek’s book is the American Splendour series of cartoon strips made by Harvey Pekar in coaction with assorted creative persons. This series is hailed by Witek as a amusing genre separate from others. as it tries to do the reader experience the life and times of the writer. This “autobiographical’ amusing book portrays assorted events in Harvey Pekar’s life. from the exceeding to the more occurring dull minutes. The reader sees what Harvey Pekar experiences in assorted state of affairss. through assorted manners and point of views.

The authorization of the amusing to state an bing person’s narrative is exemplified by American Splendor. Pekar states his ground for the subject of American Splendor by stating

I want to compose literature that pushes people into their lives instead than assisting them escape from them. Most amusing books are vehicles for escape. which I think is unfortunate. I think the alleged mean individual frequently exhibits a great trade of gallantry in acquiring through a normal twenty-four hours. and yet the reading public takes this gallantry for granted. They’d instead read about Superman than themselves

American Splendor does precisely that. It let’s the readers face the world of Harvey Pekar’s busyness membranophone being. and in making so. makes the readers see the correspondence of it with their ain.

So what right does Harvey Pekar have to exhibit such indifferent pragmatism in amusing book signifier? His authorization. as Witek implies is in his character. Pekar is a full-time employee. and merely a portion clip amusing book Godhead ; in kernel. he lives the life that his amusing books portray. All the coarsenesss. emotions. ideas and experiences found in the cartoon strips are basically his to portion.

Witek focuses on Pekar’s usage of assorted signifiers and manners within the amusing to demo the genuineness of the work. American Splendor has no underlying consistent narrative or position point. The character may switch from the Harvey speaking. and so to his married woman reminiscing. and so coming back to a past event shared by both.

This. alternatively of confounding world with assorted point of views. lets the reader to the full grasp the Harvey Pekar experience. Every item from every function is portrayed accurately merely as the writer experienced it. therefore we may see strips of narratives merely heard by Pekar. every bit good experiences seen from Pekar’s position point. or the point of view of others towards Pekar. This adds a dimension of pragmatism that successfully conveys the feeling of sing a twenty-four hours in the life of Harvey Pekar.

The success of the American Splendor series comes from its pragmatism. We see Harvey Pekar as a individual. full of idiosyncrasies. emotion. mistakes and victory. We see and yet we do non judge. for in seeing those things in him. we besides recognize that we as individuals are guilty of the exact same reactions. Harvey Pekar does non portray himself. but the experience he has in the tally of a normal twenty-four hours. Thus. no overtones of glory or damnation can be obviously found within the text. for Pekar describes it as it is. without idea for shame. pride and self-importance. He focuses on the state of affairs. doing it. non Harvey Pekar. the existent supporter of his cartoon strips.

Harmonizing to Robert Harvey. the amusing book is merely the amount of its parts. The integrity of signifier that is achieved when the written word and the ocular word picture merges makes the amusing an ideal medium for showing temper and tone. To to the full use the amusing as this medium. all of the in writing elements. the page layout. manner. the narrative and composing must meld with the written caption. This in consequence high spots the genuineness of the comedian in conveying across the message of the writer.

Using these elements. we can happen cardinal scenes in both Maus and American Splendor which serve to back up Witek’s statement of the amusing as history.

On page 83 of chapter 4 of Maus. we see an illustration of the consequence when the caption fits in absolutely with the ocular word picture. Due to the nature of the word picture. the ocular component depends on the caption to place which animate being is which. The first words of the page set the whole tone. a drab realisation.

The undermentioned scene further reinforces the message. the interplay demoing the noticeable hurt of Vladek when he comes place and recounts the intelligence. The boxed captions demoing Vladek’s ideas serves to foreground the underlying tone that it could be him hanging on the streets alternatively of the people he deals with. The concluding accent comes from the usage of shaded lines to colourise the multitudes witnessing the hanging. giving them an aura of humbleness due to their powerlessness.

In American Splendor- A Marriage Album. we can see illustrations that illustrates how the factors mentioned by Harvey colluded to rise the experience of the reader. The narrative starts with Pekar seeing his married woman Joyce away. so it shifts to a revery of Herschel/Harvey about the matrimony. The scene so shifts to Joyce’s relation of their so budding relationship. with high spots on the troubles. Both histories fuse together in the terminal. and the concluding scene shows perfect clocking in sum uping the entirety of the narrative. the interplay of how other people see their actions. Joyce’s joy in stating Harvey. and Harvey’s uncomfortableness. which he tries to conceal by throwing the box he was lading into the truck.

The two narratives justify Witek’s premiss of amusing as history. The Maus focuses on the interplay of Judaic coevalss and the spread between the Holocaust and post-holocaust Jews. American Splendor on the other manus emphasizes the scenes found in existent. normal life. demoing a world as experienced by the writer. Harvey Pekar. Both the writers of Maus and American Splendor exhibit the authorization to state their narrative in the amusing medium. And in analysing the different factors they use in stating the narrative. we see that they have the genuineness to make so every bit good.


Witek. J. ( 1990 ) . Amusing Books As History ( The Narrative Art of Jack Jackson. Art Spiegelman. and Harvey Pekar ) .