Saturday, 19 November 2011

Mindless Banter 1: Art Style

Whenever I stumble across a graphic novel, the style of the art heavily influences whether I want to read it or not. Some are too simple and childish, while some are too realistic and lose the feel of a graphic novel.

Alison Bechdel's graphic novel, Fun Home, takes place during her childhood and mainly revolves around Alison's strange relationship with her father, Bruce Bechdel. The name of the book Fun Home is the nickname for the Bechdel's family business which happens to be a funeral home. The title could possibly also take after the fact Alison's father was a tyrant in the household and is simply a sarcastic title to show how it was the exact opposite from being fun.

As a graphic novel, Alison has done a splendid job of making the art graphic as it should be. Her style is drawn in a way which is semi-realistic, and does not bother censor cursing or nudity. The style is simple yet dignified, drawn with crisp dark lines. Leaving out little details, the illustrations do a good job of carrying the storyline.

Although Alison's style is effective and to the point, it personally does not satisfy my want in an art style.

The style can be simple and neat, but there are often dramatic changes in the style throughout the graphic novel. Alison's style originally consists of black crisp lines colored by different tones of blue. The usual representation of depth and perspective consists of darker shades of blue.

Excluding the "chapter" pages, page 41 is the first time the style changes dramatically. A picture of The Addams Family is seen within a book, but it is blindingly and glaringly different from the rest of the novel. It is drawn in the style of the original author of The Addams Family, Charles Addams.

Another style change that really stands out is on page 107. A photograph of a man is also in a style completely different from the usual is shown. The man is laying back, relaxed or asleep on a bed and the photo is fully shaded using cross hatching. From the norm, this one photograph is completely different and seems out of place.

Asides from the bursts of different styles, I found expressions did not portray the character's mood properly. At moments in the novel when I figured the characters would be a certain mood, their expression only showed boredom. When Beth Gryglewicz and Alison decide to dress up in old clothes of Alison's father, it was reminiscent of my childhood, when I would do the same and it would always be fun. (pg. 188)

 However, in the scene when the two girls are putting on the clothes, they look bored, frustrated, or tired and those are emotions a child does not feel when dressing up in their parent's clothes.

Overall, the art style was to my liking asides from the dramatic changes and inaccurate mood depictions.

Here is an interview where Alison Bechdel talks about her art a bit. Link

Posted by Catherine Park.

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. 1. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006. 232. Print. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey Catherine,

    You're so observant. The point on how the expression on their face wasn't child-like when they were putting on their clothes was something I would have never spotted.

    It made me realize that her expression seems to always be that kind of face. Inexpressive, confused or shocked. I decided to skim through the book and see any signs of smiling but I rarely found any. Weird...

    Nonetheless, I enjoy the style. Though it tends to differ from time to time. Usually it's at the beginning of the chapter, books and photographs so her decision to change it is consistent. It kind of brings realism to her cartooney characters and her story.

    Heather Agoncillo