Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Comics as Examples of Literary Genius? Who Would Have Thought…
Archie and Donald Duck are for many, a reminder of childhood years and the first bits of literature ever to be read. Comics take up a small portion of the Sunday paper and for the most part, aside from the snippet of political satire, the material content has almost always been something of a joke. However, in Jason Lutes’s Jar of Fools, one of many graphic novels put on exhibit in Gleeson Library, a deeper meaning lies harbored in the text.
Although the sketched depictions of the characters in the novel are fake, the reality of life is left intact. A main Character in Jar of Fools begins rambling on with some fairly profound thoughts regarding life, “but as I understand it, any action, good or bad, is like a ripple you make in the world… and the real goal is not to make any ripples. To begin and end with a subtotal of zero”. The twisted story goes through a segment in the life of a few; a lovesick and destitute magician, the object of his affection, a crazy old man, and a homeless father with his young bright daughter in tow. The author walks us through heavy concepts such as suicide, poverty, and the complications of love, all of which are illustrated beautifully.
Graphic Novels such as Jar of Fools have become somewhat of a literary phenomenon in the past six years. In 2001 graphic novel sales were hardly 75,000 a year, by 2006 this number shot up to 250,000. A website loaded with stories for adults and information on comic authors is www.fleen.com, a thriving example of the growing interest placed in adult comics. Where did this popularity spurn from you might ask? It is possible, and probably likely that film productions such as Sin City are a key factor to their newfound popularity.
There is really nothing in many of these novels directed towards young children, it is entirely made for adults and the content is anything but light and comical. So comics have now moved into a new era, one designed to take them sincerely. Laden with meaning, graphic novels are being taken more and more seriously and substance is becoming a good deal heavier. Comics will no longer be written off as fluff used to fill extra space in the paper but rather as a new form of literary genius, the days of Donald and Archie are slowly evolving into something much heavier. Through this exhibit, Gleeson Library has successfully pioneered its way into a realm with very little public knowledge but a steadily growing fascination.