Monday, February 23, 2015

Graphic Romantics

The Romantic era of English literature -- roughly from 1798 through the 1840's -- was one of intense, passionate, imaginative literature. It was the era of Frankenstein, the era of Kubla Khan, the era of Byronic heroes who gave dark glances and roamed the wild in search of their lost souls. In America, too, writers such as Hawthorne and Poe expanded the realm of the fantastic, and the first detective fiction -- Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue" -- was written. It was an era of dark visions, fueled by opium and laudanum and absinthe, hounded by incurable maladies such as tuberculosis (known then as "consumption"), damp houses, and lonely moors. And, not unexpectedly, it was an era of great visual art, ranging from the self-engraved plates of William Blake to the nightmares of Fuseli, from the lone wanderers of Friedrich to the twisted prisons of Piranesi. And, just in case all that weren't enough, it was the era of Grimm's fairy tales and Hans Christian Andersen -- both very dark, and nothing at all like the Disney versions.

So it's little wonder that, for the artists of The Graphic Canon, it's proven to be a fruitful era for adaptation. One may well ask, though, what sort of approach best suits this material? Should it necessarily be dark and haunting, like S. Clay Wilson's illustrations of Grimm and Andersen? Or might it be whimsically grotesque, as with Hunt Emerson's version of Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner"? Dreamy realism along the lines of Alice Duke's "Kubla Khan?" If ever an era had a dominant mood, the Romantic period is it -- and yet, in The Graphic Canon, there seems to always be more than one way to slice a classic.

20 comments:

  1. Illustrations of all books; classics and adaptations, will always be different depending on the person visualizing it. When reading a story, mental images pop up into our heads, and sometimes when a book is brought to life through illustration or a movie, the picture is completely different. I personally think that no matter what way you portray a story; it can get the point across. The stories illustrations don’t have to be gory or dark or haunting; they just need to have some substance to them. What I mean by this is a story that is supposed to be scary, should be scary through the written word and not necessarily by the illustrations. Yes, illustrations to help enhance the feeling, but I believe that if we are to truly understand what we are reading we should understand the mood and tone of the story without the help of visual aid. Illustrations that portray the mood and tone of the story are a bonus. That is why I liked The Mortal Immortal adaptation by Mary Shelley. I believe that the original text was more powerful than the illustrations themselves. The illustrations did not overpower the written word. The Mortal Immortal wasn’t scary looking and he certainly did not look like most super hero figures you would usually visualize when thinking of the word immortal. Shelley’s version shows that even though it was an adaptation, the original text was more substantial to getting the point of the story across.

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  2. The romantic era was defiantly a period some of the best literature of all time was given birth. People today get confused over the word romance and right away think of Fifty Shades of Grey or Twilight. Classic romance followed internal emotion rather than physical, it brought out the essence of this emotion from the writer onto the pages. One of the best well known romance literatures is Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.

    Frankenstein is full of emotion. The emotion of Victor when he is destined to be a god, the emotion when he realizes his mistakes, the emotion when he sees his loved ones die from his own creation, but I think the most true emotion comes from the creature itself.

    This creature was recreated from old bones and body parts, brought back to life in a new world like a child and his father ran from him. He tried to understand the world but the world shut him out, they were too prejudice against his outside to accept his insides. He taught himself to read and speak and became wise and intellectual for him to be more accepting yet judging his book cover was proven more and more. He only became a monster because the world molded him to be. The real emotion strives in two parts, the part when Victor and the creature discuss morality and the part when despite all that Victor has done to this poor creature; the creature felt pain from his death. This is what sells that this book is a work of art and a center of classic romance.

    Before Frankenstein, Shelly wrote a short story called the Mortal Immortal. For someone who was so young when writing, she was brilliant.

    I really loved the story, the adaption was great but the illustrations lacked the emotion of being immortal. He didn’t think of the consequences of being immortal, to witness your love one die, your friends die, and you live on without them,(I actually wrote a poem on being immortal inspired by Mary Shellys work) but that lack of emotion towards the end is defiantly right, after so long, your inner feelings kind of disappear. The story is a great story and it just proves that Mary Shelly is the mother of classic romance.

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  3. The Romantic Era was filled with artistic, outspoken, literary, and intellectual movements. It defines the perfect emotion and mental aspect behind classic romances. Growing up in our generation now we are blinded by what “love” and “true romance” actually is. Romance now has become something so superficial and physical, that many people are blinded by what it actually means to love someone. Being able to take a look back at all these literary pieces during this era, makes it easier to understand the passion and emotional impact it had on everyone at this time. It makes me almost believe that romance is a greater power than we all have come to think. “Kubla Khan”, a poem by Coleridge, to me, is about a man who has a serious of visions of people that surround a river, good and bad. The adaptation of this excerpt done by Alice Duke is very vivid and colorful. It almost remains me somewhat of a fairytale, whimsical place that has a very dark twist to it. I can find myself also passing through this river daydreaming. “Ozymandias”, by Percy Shelley, to me, is about a man that feels so good about himself and powerful despite a broken statue of him, beauty only matters on the inside. The adaptation done by Ventura shows basically the statue broken up as well as the statues legs. I think the illustrator did a very good job displaying the power behind the poem. With both of these poems and pieces, I found it very hard to connect to them. The illustrations that are usually placed to give us a visual of the story being told, lack a lot of depth and tone. My imagination of both of these poems is greater. Now moving on to my favorite adaptation this week, “The Mortal Immortal” by Mary Shelley. I really loved the short story behind this. Like other stated before, I believe that the adaptation produced by Tooks lacked some of emotion of immortality. The love the man had for his wife almost brings tears to my eyes, but again only because of the visuals my imagination had, not really towards the works of art in this adaptation. Mark Shelley produced this piece before Frankenstein, which I find to be a huge romance classic. Her work is not done justice in this Graphic Canon.

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  4. When it comes to the Romantic Era of literature, there is a clear distinction: individuality. Many of the writers, from this later titled interval of literature, wrote about a period of tyrants and darkness with the as a looming background figure. This, however, was not the distinguishing factor of this era. The contemporary use of personal thought and feelings was what these Romantic pieces are known for. Which, I suppose, is where the title of a romantic piece came from? Perhaps the different adaptations of these literary works within the Graphic Canon is a reflection upon the historical background: to emit a sense of individuality. This can be a reason why the contributors of the adaptations chose to vary the color schemes, style of drawing, and overall mood.
    I have to concur with my peers by stating “The Mortal Immortal” was the best story I’ve read so far and that the adaptation didn’t do the story justice. After reading the actual piece, the adaptation was not how I envisioned Winzy. I was able to get past the attitude toward possibly being immortal in the drawings, but at the end the depiction of Winzy blowing himself up was not right to me. This adaptation cemented Winzy’s fate. I preferred leaving the ending to be open-ended, to be ambiguous.

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  6. When you read a story/poem, whether it be the original or an adaptation, it's important to be able to have an image in your mind of the events occurring or the story/poem may be confusing or uninteresting. I strongly believe that it depends on the eye of the beholder. The images don't need to be in any specific way, violent or romantic, they just need to be able to get the point across Images don't necessarily need to be in the readings either although they are helpful. I enjoyed how in "The Mortal Immortal" the text was very fitting to the images (at least in my opinion) because seeing the characters and how the expressed emotion made the piece more concrete and was able to send the message of the events taking place.

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  7. Corey Carvalho

    The great thing about adaptations is that there is not a unique style to adapt it in. The romantic era did indeed produce some of the darkest and some of the most beautiful pieces of literature. With that being said, the extreme emotion poured into some of these great classics can be received differently by every individual. The Mortal Immortal is one of those classics that can be adapted in many different ways. Lance Tooks, in my opinion, took a very safe approach. His adaption seemed to be a little embellished, while maintaining a sense of realism. It was dark, but connected with me. Unlike this adaptation, others we have read in this class have been very cartoony, comical, and some even awe inspiring. What I liked about this one was that it had the perfect balance of being realistic, dark, and storytelling.

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  8. At my first reading of The Mortal Immortal, I really enjoyed the adaptation. I thought it was a very interesting story, a short version of a movie you might be on TV as science fiction. I liked the style of illustrations and that it was all in black in white, making it feel like an old fashioned movie. The story was very easy to follow and the illustrations left nothing to the imagination. I think they did a great job going along with the text. The one thing I did not like was that a few of pictures were actual, realistic pictures (not drawn). I did not like the mix of the two styles, and I think the author should have just stuck to the drawings. I am not sure what he was trying to do with the realistic pictures, but the styles did not mix well for me.
    After talking about this story in class, I learned that in the end of the rendition the man does not actually intentionally kill himself. He goes on a journey to the Arctic in the hopes of dying or discovering something great for mankind. When I read the story alone I thought that he had deliberately blown himself up with the bomb. This part of the illustrations was very misleading to someone who does not know the story well.

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  9. I personally loved the adaptation for "Kubla Khan". It is beautifully detailed and represents those details within the poem. I enjoyed reading these romantic "classics". I didn't really care for the illustrations done by Wilson. Although he is adapting a fairy tale or a non-fictional story, I don't think the illustrations should be as abstract and jumbled. I could barely tell what was happening in the square frame. I feel like those fairy tales, although dark, should be represented with more detail. The graphics are supposed to tell the story and I don't think that the illustrations done by Wilson do that. I thought that the "Ancient Mariner" was adapted well. The characters definitely give the story a humorous feel with their goofy smiles and big noses. I thought the illustrations helped bring me through the story.

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  10. I believe the mood of the era changes depending on the illustrator. There are no rules when it comes to how one might adapt a classic, so they do as they please. "Kubla Khan" was majestic and descriptive. The reader is able to imagine themselves in the setting just by looking at the illustrations. The colors used are mostly earthy tones which goes along with the dream-like phrases in the poem. I believe that as long as the illustrations go along with the writing itself, it will be well-done. This can be done in many different was. "The Mortal Immortal" shows this in a different way. The black and white illustrations go along with the dark story. It combines cartoon-like figures with picturesque backgrounds. I have never seen this combination before, but I don't necessarily think that makes it bad. It is an adaptation, so it should be different from the original, and this is how the illustrator wanted it to look like, so I think he succeeded in what he hoped for the outcome to be.

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  11. The Romantic era of literature was an era of emotion filled works of art. Many romantic poets lived on the idea of the sublime, an overwhelming emotion that cannot be explained. That expression of emotion is incredibly hard to portray graphically. Adaptations such as any of Poe's works of even "Kubla Khan", I agree with a previous comment that one should understand the meaning of the words without illustration prior to seeing the illustration. It gives more depth to the words being read. That's not to say that the design and style of illustration doesn't affect the meaning of the story, cause it does, but it doesn't change the heart of the story. If someone was to adapt "The Mortal Immortal" with colors of pink, yellow and bright colors it would completely take away from the dark, gothic theme of the story. I believe a successful adaptor would create a graphic that portrays the main theme of a story. For example, gothic and dark would be black, gray and the opposite a story like "The Wife of Baths" in my opinion would be playful and have colors. The illustration of a story should definitely represent the story being told as best as possible, but thats not to say that every person will agree upon the particular illustration. One story could be illustrated several times each with extremely different adaptations, but if the story is still shown graphically with it being understood and theres a flow to the story I think that artist was successful.

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  12. I personally like the story of Kubla Khan the most, I like the layout the most out of all the stories. I also found it the most interesting to read entertaining to read, I really like how each every little paragraph of text had a new picture to go with it so you knew exactly what is being said at all times. - Brandon Men

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  13. I found it interesting how Kubla Khan is seen in the world of literature as a master piece. The way it was made sounds like something from a movie. When I read it I found the format of it to be very unique, most poems stand out for their uniqueness so my guess is that because of that it has been criticized. The art itself is very appealing it reminded me of a movie I saw “ Avatar” because of the nature portrayed in the poem. I really liked the “mortal Immortal” story, it reminded me of series and books I have read before. Everyone wants to live forever and be young, however they never think of the consequences that can happen. This story was not the typical story though, he was not looking for immortality he just happen to drink the vile by accident. I also felt as though the art went along with the story very well, it’s a sad story so making it black and white made it perfect.

    Bryant Ayala

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  14. I really enjoyed reading Kubla Khlan, as I have never read the original text prior to this class. While going through this graphic, I could not help but notice the colors and textures of this piece. It reminds me of a painting sketched with oil pastels. The mood of this particular piece has a vibe dating back to older times as evidenced by the nature landscapes and clothing creating a dreamy feel.
    As for literary styles in the Graphic Canon, I do not believe grotesque favors over dark and haunting. Artwork, in my opinion, can be best described as a language. There are many forms of artwork that are all perceived differently. What is great to one, may be terrible to another. It all depends on how one truly visualizes the literary piece.

    Marissa DeRoy

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  15. In the adaptation of Kubla Khan, the illustrations by Alice Duke are rich of color and full of life. I enjoyed reading this adaptation as the text goes along with the imagery I had in my head. I thought she did a fantastic job of creating the water as it really does look like its moving through. I think the amount of text on each page was moderate, but not over-whelming. I liked the style of font used as it was easy to read.
    Frankenstein was a different story, though. The illustrations were dark and scary, and really brought the story to life. Many people dont like the dark illustrations but I found it to be fitting. You really do picture the setting being in deep colors like black, dark greys, and dark browns. Shalvey really captured the monster of frankenstein perfectly throughout each frame. The writing on the pages were more of a comic book like font which I didn't particularly care for.

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  16. Robert Conway

    I know that whenever I read a story, poem, or play writing I always picture it in the time it says it takes place, or I fit it into something that matches. This should be the same way of thinking in which an artist would draw a picture to represent on of these stories. Kubla Khan make me think of ancient Asia and the mongols. The costumes and artitecture fit the image one may exspect to see. And scene in which the original author (still high as a kite I may guess) is holding the building that was washed away in the flood. The drawing of Frankenstein was dark and brooding, much like I would exspect. The art style was well chosen, as it reflected the dark and sad story of the "monster". The illustration almost reminded me of a Batman comic, and I would say suited the story quite well.

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  17. I thoroughly enjoy the romantic era of English literature. I think it is the inspiration of many movies and theater productions produced in the last century. I think the theme can be whatever the write can dream up, as long as there can be a romantic element found. Finding a romantic element in nature is not hard. Taking your examples, there is hope in the dark and haunting works of S. Clay Wilson's illustrations in Grimm and Andersen. There is obvious romance in the whimsically grotesque pieces, such as Hunt Emerson's version of Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner". And who doesnt love dreamy realism in their romance, Alice Duke nailed it in "Kubla Khan.

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  18. Although I don't usually enjoy romantic graphics. I did find The Mortal Immortal fascinating. Its dark shading included a different element when I think of graphic romantics. Kubla Khan is what I am more familiar when thinking about a graphic romantic. Kubla Khan included bright colors in a gloomy sense of artwork. The Immortal Immortal included dark shading and the best part of The Mortal Immortal. Another important aspect to note is the amount of text per frame. The Mortal Immortal included a lot of text which somewhat took away to the adaptation, as adaptation don't usually include a lot of text per frame. Kubla Khan included few words and I believe added more value to the artwork, as the reader will rely on the images to project their own opinion and perspective.


    Nathan Silva

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  19. I feel as though a graphic adaptation, when it comes to any material, should not fit a certain theme. The graphic adaptations of the romantic era can have any theme; it mostly depends on the story and who is adapting the novel graphically from the original work. I don't think it necessarily has to be dark and haunting, grotesque, or have a dreamy feel to convey the point of the story. The words or original text from the story should be included or adapted slightly along with the inclusion of illustrations to help tell the story, or make it flow. The visuals should be there to help tell the story, not tell the story alone. There is definitely more than one way to adapt a classic and give it a different perspective. I enjoyed reading this adaptation of "The Mortal Immortal". There was enough balance between text and visuals. The text was there to tell the story and the visuals were there to help add some substance to the graphical adaptation.

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  20. The romantic era is one that provides is with graphical adaptations done in many different styles. Although the Romantic era of English literature was from 1798 through the 1840’s the settings, including time and place of these works vary greatly. For this reason there is no approach that best suits this material. Each approach is unique to the elements of its particular work. For example, “The Mortal Immortal” takes place over a long period of time. For this reason the use of black and white for the illustrations done by Tooks in the graphical adaptation are appropriate because like the idea of an immortal, black and white seem to transcend time. Even though time is constantly passing, the man in the story is immortal and therefore constant just like the black and white throughout the story. “Kubla Khan” on the other hand has a very different setting. In “Kubla Khan” there is mention of forests and green hills. For this reason, black and white wouldn’t be an appropriate approach to display this material. Instead “Kubla Khan” has rich color to display this element of nature. Romantic adaptations should evoke the emotion of the work of literature and because this is not the same for each work, there cannot be a particular approach that best suits the material.

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