Sunday, January 21, 2007

Comic Dreams

Comic Dreams collage by Lani


Have you read many graphic novels? Here's one that reawakened a very long dormant interest in the whole serial image, comic, storyboard genre. Artobiography, by Don Seiden.

Seiden described the process of writing this book as first drawing the cartoon-like pictures, the memory images of his life, in these little boxes. Once he had his life illustrated graphically, he went back and added the text, looking at each image carefully and creating a condensed text block to go under the image box. For Seiden, the value of the book was in the way it documents his pursuit of meaning through art making. He described art as a constantly available friend to "talk to" about his experiences, a kind of vehicle for containing and understanding feelings and thoughts, and a way to recognize and resolve problems. It seemed that creating art, maybe even creating this book, helped Seiden appreciate and even love his life, the people in it, and himself a little more clearly, deeply, and intensely.

As I read Seiden's book, thought about what was included, and imagined what was excluded, I began to wonder about this format, how well it might work in the art room as an organizing and grounding tool. I wondered about the idea of gentle interventions, how easily a narrative might be expanded on, altered, or have parts emphasized or de-emphasized when told with storyboards or little cartoon boxes.

The only limitation of this book relates to its format, in that the images are black and white, hand drawn, and small. With the artwork Seiden describes, the reader will likely want to see more, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Fortunately Seiden's website has excellent photographs of his art work.

Does this genre interest you just a little? If so here are some other titles you might want to look at:

One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry. Keri Smith writes about it here.

Maus : A Survivor's Tale : My Father Bleeds History/Here My Troubles Began/Boxed.

Our Cancer Year.

Graphic Storytelling.

To the Heart of the Storm

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