Research Task: Visual language

For this research task, I need to choose one of the contemporary adult graphic novel creators from the list below:

● Jessica Abel (‘Artbabe’ and ‘La Perdida’)
● Alison Bechdel (‘Are You My Mother?)
● Emily Carroll (‘Through the Woods’)
● Daniel Clowes (‘Eightball’ comic book, ‘Patience’ and ‘Wilson’)
● Emil Ferris (‘My Favorite Thing is Monsters’)
● Marjane Satrapi (‘Persepolis’ and ‘Embroideries’)
● Pam Smy (‘Thornhill’)
● Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth’ and ‘Rusty Brown’)

Now I need to research them online and make a list of keywords in my learning log that I think reflect the visual language of their published work. I need to consider how they use: language and image-making, whether their commissioned or professional work is political, dealing with issues, interpretative, reflective narrative, informative, representational, decorative, or stylised.

It was hard to choose from such a diverse list of adult graphic novel creators as I really enjoyed the look of Pam Smy’s ‘Thornhill’ and Emily Carroll’s ‘Through the Woods’ due to both of their art styles and use of colour, I felt there were a lot of similarities with Emily Carroll’s art style and use of colour as she tends to stick to black, white and red which is something I like to do in graphic fiction, it’s interesting to find another artist who is similar to me. I was close to writing up on Marjane Satrapi’s ‘Persepolis’ but I realised I had already researched this book before. I wanted to research someone new.

Visual Language Keywords:

  • Unseen
  • Personal
  • Descriptive
  • Sincere
  • Open
  • Emotive
  • Moving
  • Complex
  • Dysfunctional

I now need to write a short 200-word narrative to describe their work and visual language.

For this exercise I decided on Alison Bechdel ‘Are you my mother?’. I luckily managed to find an extract from pages 1-38 of the comic on PDF (I think this is chapter 1). This is a drama comic telling the story of Alison’s relationship with her own mother, it is a mix between a memoir and Alison psychoanalysing herself and her mother. This is a personal piece of work, Alison made a different book in the past which was a memoir about her father, now she chose to do one about her mother. The comic shows different chapters of Alison’s life and what played out. The comic jump around back and forth throughout the entirely of the book in the same way a series or film would on TV. The tale behind the book is Alison’s attempt to understand her relationship with her mother. Her mother isn’t very much of a mother at all really, she shows little affection towards Alison, she is also trapped in a marriage to a closeted homosexual. The book also discusses Alison’s struggles with coming out as a lesbian knowing how her mother might respond. The book ends on a lighter note, and it seems to show Alison making peace with her mother.

208 words

From the book “ARE YOU MY MOTHER? A COMIC DRAMA” by Alison Bechdel author of ‘FUN HOME”

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