Sunday, 20 November 2011

Significance of Page Layouts S.S

How Alison lays out the panels of illustrations in her pages seem simple, but are rather strategically thought through. 
Typically, each page has around 2-4 panels in a variety of square and rectangle shapes, some long and tall, some short and wide. This allows for the flow of the reading to be easy and requires little work from the reader as they are read from left to right, up to down. 

When Bechdel breaks from this convention, it adds a certain power and attention to those pages. There’s a two-page spread showing a picture Alison finds in her father’s things of one of the young men her father hired as yard help/babysitter stretched out in his underwear on a bed, which immediately rings of importance, as it was the first time Alison really had evidence that her father was gay. 

The style in which the photograph is done is also different from the typical black, simple line-work of the other panels. This more realistic style occurs at the beginning of each chapter as well, adding to the truth and "realness" of the memoir. 
Near the end of the book, one of the last conversations Alison has with her father is shown across two pages in a flurry of small square panels, 12 on each page.

The narrative here covers an extremely short period of time, divided into short pieces of dialogue, silent pauses, and small shifts in posture, all seen from a unvarying vantage point. This closer, almost minute look at a scene, is rare in this book that bounds across time and place to cover the experiences of a life, and Bechdel’s use of an altered layout draws extra attention to this important scene.
Highly thought-through, each page and panel is considered in Alison's work, which just adds to her legitimacy as both an illustrator and writer.

Somehow, while reading/viewing Alison's work, I was reminded of another graphic novel, 'Black Hole' by Charles Burns, which is one of the only graphic novels I am craving to read/view! Oddly enough, when I looked at the work on Amazon, I scrolled down to find this gem of information; that people who bought 'Fun Home' also frequently bought 'Black Hole'. 
It's a gorgeously illustrated graphic novel, I suggest you all read it!

Posted by Sabrina 


Beveridge, Robert P. "Black Hole: Charles Burns: Books." Online Shopping for Canadians - Books, Electronics, Music, DVDs, Software, Video Games & More. Web. 25 Nov. 2011. <>.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sabrina,

    Great post. I completely agree on your point.

    I love how the difference in layouts does bring a different feeling and impact to what she is saying.

    The realism of the illustrations at the beginning of every chapter and photographs gives a nice nostalgic feeling. It makes the memoir more real.
    Sometimes as I read the book, I tend to forget that this is a real story because its all cartooney.

    I love the tie of the picture of the last chapter (page 187) to the end of the book. It's the same pose but on a different angle and style.

    It makes the end so bittersweet.

    Heather Agoncillo