In the folded concertina pages of their book Correspondences (2013), artist Bernice Eisenstein and writer Anne Michaels have collaborated to adapt and put to use a multifaceted temporal dimension inherent in the medium of comics. Michaels and Eisenstein explore the potential that comics have to interrupt processes of consumption through phenomenal engagements with image, text, narrative and temporality. (Smith 2013) Correspondences changes through reading, offering new connections and configurations, made possible by the choice of directions in which the book can be read, and the page arrangements chosen by the reader upon any particular visit. The book opens as an accordion, the edge of each page attached to another. Read it this way, it is a poem. Read it a different way to look at Eisenstein’s portraits. When arranged conventionally, they are accompanied by a text on the facing page. As voices in a gallery of conversations, situated in the shadow of the Holocaust, Eisenstein’s portraits show us the faces of connected figures, from Paul Celan to Nelly Sachs, while the fragmented text of the poem sets up associations and relationships across time. There are echoes of the image/text combinations of Eisenstein’s previous graphic novel I was a Child of Holocaust Survivors (2006), which prodded the boundaries of the medium, resisting a more conventional approach to graphic memoir. Miriam Harris describes how Eisenstein illuminated “a vanished world of family members, shtetl culture, and Jewish intellectual inquiry and art, to identify what had been lost.” (2008: 132) Harris points out that “the union of words and images” (2008: 141) enables a reanimating of the dead through yoking together past and present in the corporeal form of the graphic novel. Correspondences performs similarly, but with an even greater sense of corporeal engagement, and moves even further away from standard image/text relations as found in comics.
Tag Archives: anti-Semitism
Maus in the Indonesian Classroom by Philip Smith
As regular readers of Comics Forum are aware, the site recently featured a Themed Month which sought to examine comics as cultural production. The issue looked first at the work of comic book authors (Woo 2013) and ended with an autobiographical account of one scholar’s experiment as a comic book retailer (Miller 2013). In the following article I hope to continue to chart the life of a comic book by examining one particular comic after sales as it is read not by academics, but by a much larger demographic of comic book consumers: teenagers, specifically, Indonesian teenagers.
There has been a debate concerning the role of comics in language acquisition and literacy which can be traced back to the 1950s when Frederic Wertham, among others, argued that comics cause retardation of reading ability (Wertham, 1954). Many modern scholars argue that comics serve as a gateway to literacy (see, for example, the Canadian Council for Learning website, 2013). This article will document my experience and observations as a teacher who uses Art Spiegelman’s Maus in the Indonesian classroom with advanced English-learners. I will describe how I prepared the students to read Maus, the concepts and history which I taught alongside the text, and what the students themselves brought to, and drew from the work.
The Colonial Heritage of Comics in French by Mark McKinney
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, a movie directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson, is scheduled for release before the end of 2011. The film reportedly combines the stories from three books in the world-famous comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé (Georges Remi): The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure. Most movie-goers will have no idea about the historical context in which these three stories were first drawn and published. All were originally serialized by the cartoonist in Le Soir, a newspaper then controlled by the Nazis during their occupation of Belgium. And in the same newspaper, in between the first of these stories and the other two (which constitute a diptych), Hergé drew and published The Shooting Star, whose original version was clearly an antisemitic libel. This was at a time when the Nazis were preparing to kill the Jews in Belgium. Leafing through those old newspapers is a sobering experience, as one reads positive reviews of antisemitic movies and public speeches, and official notification of administrative measures designed to identify and isolate Jews in preparation for the genocide. Today Hergé is mostly celebrated as a creative comics genius, but historical facts like this should encourage us to delve deeper into the relationships between the form, the content and the context of his comics.