Research Task: Autobiographical Comics

For this exercise, I need to look at the below autobiographical comic storytellers and their comic books or graphic novels. I will search for them online:

● ‘American Splendor’ (1976-2008) by Harvey Pekar, a ground-breaking comic documenting his life as a Cleveland filing clerk which was also adapted into a feature film in 2003.

● ‘Blankets’ by Craig Thompson (2003), the coming-of-age account of a young boy falling in love and the ensuing conflict with his Christian beliefs.

● ‘Epileptic’ by David B (2006) tells the story of the author’s brother’s battle with epilepsy told in a stark and expressionistic black-and-white style.


All three graphic novels/ comic books above have no colour on the inside pages/panels but colour on the front page (cover). All have a lot of patterns and textures within but all have a unique style. American Splendor seems to be the most ‘old fashioned’ out of all three. American Splendor is also the only one that is a series of comic books. The two others ‘Blankets’ and ‘Epileptic’ are graphic novels. They are all autobiographical stories and each one is wonderful and tells such different stories. I enjoy the way these artists are able to show their feelings and thoughts through art and storytelling.

The following three pages are a story by Daniel Clowes called ‘Nature Boy’. I will read it and answer the following questions:

● Does the nine-panel grid create a rhythm and structure to the story?

Yes, you can see this actually being made into an animation. Each of the panels shows a step-by-step perspective of what is happening and what the boy is seeing.

● Could any of the sequences be described as from a ‘point of view’ perspective?

Yes, you can see when the boy stumbles upon the ‘cotton swab’ he looks down and you can see it’s from his POV. Also when he looks at the squirrel and tree face the panels consist of his POV again.

● How does the silent nature of most of the story affect its reading?

Rather than reading you are focusing on what the boy is looking at in the story. It also signifies how quiet it is in nature apart from the SKITTER SKITTER of the squirrel or the weird groan of the tree face until you hear the BBZZZ of the television.

● Would captions or thought balloons change the feel of the narrative?

Yes, I think it wouldn’t work as well as you can see by the amount of detail in each panel what is happening step by step, there is no need for thought balloons or captions.

● What is the visual style of the story – modern or old-fashioned? Simple or detailed?

I would say the visual style is old-fashioned, only because of the way the boy is dressed and how the television looks like one from the 50’s.

● What, if anything, do you think is the point or moral of the story?

That it’s as weird indoors as it is outdoors. The parents are obviously obese and lazy, and the son is starting to follow in their footsteps. The boy was about to catch a flight but instead, he decided to stay as he has run out of time. Also, there is some messed up stuff outdoors!


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