Jason Lutes’ stunning graphic novel, Berlin: City of Stones, captures a response to the woodcut novel that represents a common reaction by many readers who first open one of these books. In this case, the book Mein Stundenbuch (Passionate Journey) by Frans Masereel is targeted by the character Erich, who is having a heated discussion about objectivity and emotion with his friends. The panels display Erich as he pulls the book from his friend’s coat pocket. In a manner of disgust, Erich presents the book as an example of emotionalism. His attitude changes when he opens the pages and becomes engrossed in the pictures.
Tag Archives: Will Eisner
Navigating the Post-9/11 Mental Space Architecture and Expressionism in In the Shadow of No Towers by Aletta Verwoerd
On September 11, 2001, Art Spiegelman, son of Auschwitz survivors and renowned author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus (1992), found himself on a “ringside seat” to the attacks on the WTC (Spiegelman, 2004: p. 2). This was it; the moment his parents had anticipated when they taught him “to always keep [his] bags packed” (Spiegelman, 2004 ). Personal life and world history collided once again on Ground Zero and, after years of writing and illustrating for The New Yorker – though never combining the two disciplines – the cartoonist returned to the medium that he considers to be ultimately his own: comix.
Spiegelman’s second opus In the Shadow of No Towers (2004) contains ten large-scale cardboard pages, each with an eclectic collection of images and frames: comic figures from the dawn of the twentieth century feature prominently in the autobiographical story that is further built on references to popular culture, including the author’s familiar ‘disguise’ as a mouse. Produced in the two years right after the attacks, the shape of the towers is frequently mirrored in both single panels and in page structures. All together, the book provides a nearly surreal report of life in lower Manhattan; the neighbourhood in which the absence of the Twin Towers was ultimately present. Further, in order to do justice to “oversized skyscrapers and outsized events” (Spiegelman, 2004) the templates are extraordinary in size; each of them designed to precisely fill a full newsprint page, in colour.