Die Stadt is an interesting Graphic Novel. So interesting that it’s ability to be called a graphic “novel” comes into question. Does it have a narrative? Can something without a narrative be called a novel? If not, then why is this series of images so interesting? These questions popped into my mind during our class discussion on this piece and I’d like to share my thoughts on them as I reflect upon these images.
During our discussion the thought of continuity was pretty heavily teased with. What kind of continuity do these images have and can it be considered a narrative? All of the images are of city life, and they are of a specific city as well, considering that there is continuity among images in terms of reoccurring landmarks. But is there a narrative, a story to it? We didn’t go in this direction in our discussion, but in my opinion, I believe there is a sort narrative here.
The people of the city are the focus of the individual images, with some images containing crowds of people, and some containing only one or two individuals as well. However, it is important to remember that it is at the very least, a collection of images. And as a collection, the focus is obviously on the city itself. In this way, I like to think of the city and its landmarks as not only the setting, but as characters.
The homes collectively are probably the most interesting in terms of character. They witness sadness, atrocities, poverty, and stress. They actually don’t see a whole lot of happiness, and I think that’s a really key point. The city as a whole doesn’t see a lot of happiness, but there are some good images. A wedding, couples kissing, laughing, and most of these take place on the streets or in public places — rarely in the homes. The only image of possible happiness that comes to mind is an image of intercourse, and even then it’s possible that it could be a rape, as the tone of the scene is not 100% clear.
Taking the idea of the city and its landmarks as characters, I think there’s the possibly of a narrative to be found here. The image I like to think is the man crying in his room with an ethereal woman caressing him. We talked about her possibly being his dead mother, but I’ve been toying with the idea that it can represent the city. Life within the city is hard, which can be emulated by her surrounding him and him almost disappearing within her form. On the other side of the coin, the city is loving, it provides with the necessary means of life in this day and age: work, food, shelter, and community. This idea can be seen in the sequence of images, with life and death, struggle and calm, poverty and wealth, and so on. That is where I see the narrative, and that narrative is life. This graphic novel is a tale about life and the city that plays both and active part and passive part. Active because people live and die within her walls as she cares and harms them, and passive because she is a witness to the many lives that make her their home.