Friday, August 14, 2009

Addicted to a new genre

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Until 8 months back I had not read a single graphic novel in my life. After a close friend gave high praise to Watchmen I finally decided to take the plunge and was instantly enthralled. After I finished the book I read it cover to cover again.

After this I was hooked. I followed Watchmen up with V for Vendetta, From Hell and Logicomix which I reviewed earlier, all in quick succession. Yesterday I finished Maus and realized the true uniqueness of the genre; I cannot imagine how Maus could have had half as much impact in normal novel form as it did as a graphic novel. Now I have just picked up the newly published Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli. It's utterly fascinating and unlike anything I have seen; as the Amazon review says, the comics equivalent of a Pynchon or Gaddis novel.

The allure of the graphic novel is for obvious reasons and yet the beauty is in its details. The most important reason why a graphic novel entertains and fascinates is because along with words, the writer has a wholly new and unique dimension to give voice to his ideas. It is as if a three dimensional human being could suddenly travel through the fourth dimension of time. The melting pot of words, pictures and colors creates limitless possibilities and evokes strange and wonderful emotions. Consider Maus; without the portrayal of the Jews, Americans, Poles and Nazis as rather crudely drawn animals, the story would not have been transformed into the disturbing, dark, bizarre, touching and unique concoction that it did. I have read several stories about the Holocaust and Holocaust survivors, and yet Maus retold me that horrendous tale on a totally different level, mainly because it was in comic book form.

The same goes for Asterios Polyp, and at this point I can't even describe this strange and amazing piece of work. In fact I don't want to until I digest and assimilate its unique contents. Suffice it to say that one of the things Mazzucchelli does is to portray different humans in different shapes and sizes, and these parameters have a very interesting connection with their personalities. Something like this could be possible only in a graphic novel, and I look forward to reading many more of these singular creations.



Blogger Rhucha said...

I don't believe that you have never read graphic novel until now. What about X Men and Phantom? I always enjoyed reading them and I completely agree with you about the novelty of these creations bring to the world of reading. The graphics are so vivid and beautifully done that I can easily visualize the real characters and their voices and personalitites. I still remember the Phantom and his horse and all the tales. Glad to know you are enjoying this new genre.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Wavefunction said...

Oh of course! I was a big fan of Phantom, Mandrake and almost all of Asterix and Tintin. It's just that a lot of times they were not very philosophical. And I never read another one till last year, a gap of at least 110-15 years.

7:16 PM  

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