Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Illustrating Moby-Dick

It's a candidate for the "Great American Novel" -- and perhaps for the "great American illustrated novel" as well.  Since its first publication in 1851, there have been, quite literally, hundreds of illustrated editions of Melville's magnum opus, ranging from those with a single frontispiece to Matt Kish's version, which features one illustration per page of the original novel (of the which the 12 in The Graphic Canon is but a tiny selection). The best-known illustrations are doubtless those by Rockwell Kent, an artist who himself travelled to the ends of the earth to sketch its landscapes and creatures, but there have been many others: Barry Moser, C.M. Butzer, Mike Huddleston, and Garrick Palmer, as well as numerous comic-book and graphic novel versions. It's also been translated into dozens of other languages, and illustrated in many, including Russian, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish. Throughout all this, though, Kent's illustrations are still the most iconic, and it's almost impossible to imagine any other illustrations which wouldn't, in some way, reference.

17 comments:

  1. This version of Moby Dick is very interesting. I really liked how the illustrations over lapped blue prints of some sort, while quoting the book and giving the page number. The illustrator first draws Moby Dick very mechanically and then draws the anatomy of the whale on another page.

    It may not give a full explanation on what the story is about but Moby Dick is a very iconic in American media. I don’t have to read Moby Dick to know the story of Captain Ahab’s journey to kill this monstrous whale. The same can be said with Jekyll and Hyde, media already tells the tales of these stories. Of course the full story is not involved in these adaptions that is sad, but there isn’t enough time to fully adapt it.

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  2. Moby Dick is a a novel known around the world about a famous sea captain announcing his intent to ship aboard a whaling vessel. Throughout his story he describes in detail about his voyage, his ship, and the evil whale he is trying to catch. Although Rockwell Kent's illustrations are outstanding, I rather enjoyed Kish's rendition. His illustrations in this adaptation of Melville's Moby Dick were very child like and humerus (maybe thats why I enjoyed them a little more). It's almost like Dish’s illustrations are not even illustrations at all, they are more like doodles you would see in a notebook. He applies bright colors that are not even in the lines, as well as easy images and shape drawn, it reminds me a lot of abstract art. The art also, to me, looks like a teenager drew them while reading Moby Dick in an English class. Some of the drawings even look like blue prints (which I found really cool), especially when Melville describes the ship, “you never saw such a rare old craft as this rare old Pequod.” Kish uses Melville's attention to detail to show the ship high and mighty and painting a picture of it as almost, like I said before, a blue print. Melville gives great detail about his ship and the whale in his novel, he elaborates a lot on the anatomy of the whale. In Kish's adaptation he includes Melville's words about the whale and paints a picture of a childish look inside a whale. He even circles the places where Melville describes where you would “harpoon”. Although Moby Dick is certainly not a book for children to read, these drawings that Kish recreates certainly does remind me of some art work I would see in children's books.

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  3. I did not enjoy this adaptation of Moby Dick. Even though I have never read the actual novel, I am familiar with the main story line of Captain Ahab and the great white whale. I was never very interested in reading this story, and this adaptation did not peak my interest any more. My questions I had about the text were not answered by the illustrations like most of the stories were have read in this graphic novel. The other adaptations have illustrations that clarify what is happening and portray the text very well. I thought that this style of art was very unorganized and inconsistent. Some of the pictures were abstract, some with a great amount of detail, and others with little detail. I also did not understand why the drawings were done over a blueprint. This just added to my confusion. I think you must know the story of Moby Dick very well to really appreciate and like this adaptation. I think if I had more background knowledge and knew the story better that I would have enjoyed it more.

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  4. Everybody says that Moby Dick is a classic and it has been adapted time and time again since it was originally made. Having never previously read Moby Dick before, I cannot say that this adaptation was either good or bad. I liked the illustrations though. I thought it was creative how each page quoted certain areas from the original. Obviously, taking a book that is at least 550 pages and condensing it into 12 and quoting only twelve different pages won't do the original justice. I think that if there were more pages and more quotes from the original, this adaptation would have been easier to understand. I really didn't understand what was going on and i wish that the illustrations would have been more helpful for me to understand the little quoted areas on each page.

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  5. I have always heard about Moby Dick but I never actually wanted to read it because it was very long. I enjoyed this because it was a far shorter version but at the same time I feel like i missed a lot of content when reading this. The pictures and text were good but I feel like it needed more so it would be easier to understand and get the big picture from the original Moby Dick story. - Brandon Men

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  6. Right away, I know I was not going to like this particular art adaptation of Moby Dick. For me personally, there was too much distractions with the blueprints as the background paper for the illustrations. I was more focused on seeing what the blueprints were than the actual drawings of the story themselves. Also, the quotes they took out of the story and slapped on the page didnt always go with the illustrations. I just found it hard to interpret of what was actually going on. Kish uses a variety of tools ranging from ballpoint pen, to what seems to be colored pencils, and water color. I just didn't particularly like this adaptation.

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  7. I did not enjoy this adaptation of Moby Dick. I think the illustrations were too complex and did not go along with the story overall. I commend the artist for drawing with such intricate details, but it still did not work for me. For some of the drawings, I didn't even know what they were supposed to be portraying. The drawings more so confused me than helped me to understand the point of the story. The one part of the drawings that I did enjoy was the color scheme. The artist used mostly blue and red, which in my mind symbolized some of the main points in the story, water and blood, or killing. The colors were not too bright and did well with accentuating certain parts of the pictures. Overall though, I do not think they were the best illustrations to accompany the already well-known story, Moby Dick.

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  8. The Graphic Canon's "Moby Dick" is a very different form of illustrated adaptation. To look at it as a method of portraying the story, the adaptation was lackluster. To look at it as a separate entity, away from the storyline, the artwork was unique. The use of old scrapped notebook pages was weird in a sense because there wasn't any linear connection to the story; however, the artist's odd style does make the pages memorable. Since "Moby Dick" is an iconic story in literature, a very wide audience already has an understanding (however minuscule without the descriptive details of the story) and artists can have a wide berth in how they decide to illustrate the story. Here, from The Graphic Canon, the artist simply used a 70's-80's vibe. Whatever floats his/her boat....

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  9. I think that Kish's version of Moby Dick is very unique and different. I have been trying to figure out why he drew over diagrams and tables. I guess it's just a different medium he wanted to use but I still can't figure out the purpose of it and how it relates to the story. I like that he uses lines and strokes to represent texture. I also like that some objects have more detailed lines/doodles within them. The colors that Kish uses are very vibrant which pulls me into the drawings. I like that each illustration uses color in a different way; some colors are shaded and others are blotted onto the page. Kish adapts Moby Dick differently but I think it works out in his favor.

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  10. Moby Dick is a really good story that almost everyone knows. It also makes you feel sad seeing as how far wanting revenge can take some one. The captain himself cared more for revenge than his own crew mates. The way it became illustrated was very unique and involved different art styles which was interesting. The picture on Pg. 190 made it seem as though the ship was a “destroyer” getting ready for battle. It was also my favorite picture because the design seemed like blueprints to make a warship.
    Bryant Ayala

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  11. Robert Conway

    The illustrations were interesting and very eye catching. They definitly represented the actual story quite well. The respresentation of Ahab on P.192 makes him look something like a robot. This maybe allude to the fact that actual robots have only one purpose for existing, and Ahab's purpose was to kill the whale and nothing else.

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  12. This particular verision of Moby Dick by Melville exhibits creativity in a way of combining many different aspects of art. I really enjoyed the author's use of abstract styles. The vivid imagery seems that it can tell the story itself. I feel like the amount of text suites the story and follows along nicely with the graphic. I specifically liked the image on page 200 of Moby Dick jumping out of the water. The style of this particular image reminded me of a Japanese ink wash painting.

    Marissa DeRoy

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  13. I have never been required, nor had the desire, to ever read Moby Dick; it never seemed to capture my interest. I still do not have much interest to read the novel after reading this graphical adaptation. I did enjoy the artwork in this piece by Kish. The artwork is very colorful and it is illustrated in a mechanical style on some pages yet cartoonish or childlike on other pages. I also like the incorporation of certain quotes from the story along with the page numbers. One other thing I liked about this graphical adaptation is the blueprint work or tables in the background of the artwork.

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  14. Corey Carvalho

    I have never read Moby Dick before, and this adaptation was extremely confusing for me. I did not understand the styling choices that were made with the art. I did not understand why every page seemed to have a different style altogether. I appreciate the creativity, but I just cannot wrap my head around it in context to Moby Dick. I cannot say whether I enjoyed the adaptation or not, because I couldn't understand it. I guess there was just too much going on for me to be able to really understand. Also, I am sure that because I have never read or studied Moby Dick, it is even more difficult for me to understand this adaption.

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  15. I have read Moby Dick before yet it was a while ago so I only have brief memory of it yet the creativity in this adaptation is quite overwhelming the way the whale portrayed in various shapes and forms. The original piece is nowhere near as exciting visually as this version and this version done by Kish is one unlike any other. However the problem was that the illustrations seemed to take a lot away from the actual story itself.

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  16. I have read Moby Dick before yet it was a while ago so I only have brief memory of it yet the creativity in this adaptation is quite overwhelming the way the whale portrayed in various shapes and forms. The original piece is nowhere near as exciting visually as this version and this version done by Kish is one unlike any other. However the problem was that the illustrations seemed to take a lot away from the actual story itself.

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  17. I agree with the sentiment of others and did not enjoy this particular adaptation of Moby Dick. The majority of the other adaptations that we have read have to cut out language in order to create their adaptations; however, most of these adaptations combine the language they keep with their illustrations and still manage to provide us with an adaptation that flows. This adaptation of “Moby Dick” on the other hand seems very disjointed. Each of the illustrations seems to be done in a different style and therefore they do not work well together or with the text to provide a flowing series of events. I believe that the lines of text chosen to include in the adaptation could be the basis of an adaptation that works; however, the art that is used should be done in one style and should compliment the written word.

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