Looking into the genre of graphic novel, I often find myself questioning “how plausible is this scenario in real life?” Although in stories such as Swallow Me Whole we often see elements of realism, it is all too often that many of the plot lines are eventually warped by some fantasy by the end. In fact, for our own web comic (The Drain Chronicles, sorry for the shameless plug) we weave a story of a young boy who has fallen down a drain into an alternate universe. With that said, all fiction must be based in some kind of truth, and so I decided to investigate areas where nonfiction has prevailed as the basis for a graphic novel.
My investigation, oddly enough, led me right into a murder mystery from 1958. The mystery involved two young boys who were murdered in Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, but the investigation quickly became a cold case after a lack of DNA evidence led to several dead ends. The prime suspect, the boys’ mother, committed suicide shortly after her sons’ deaths – therefore leaving investigators with no culprit to truly blame. The two victims, who were initially thought to be a boy and a girl, came to be known as “The Babes in the Woods.” Although this picture may make the area seem beautiful, it is in fact home to what has been referred to as the worst murder mystery in the history of Vancouver.
Now as interesting as the story is, for the purposes of my research I was more intrigued as to how this story was portrayed in the media. After over 50 years had passed since the case occurred, I found much information on novels written about the case and other media representations. However, what truly struck my interest was that the story was on the path to be retold in the version of a graphic novel. Anna Katarina Thorsen set out on a project in 2011, which I came across on the internet, in order to gather enough backing and support to retell a somewhat fictional version of the events of Stanley Park. MOLLY, the final product, was set to become an “experimental graphic novel” that basically used history as an inspiration to tell a fictional tale of the death of these two boys.
Needless to say, what I found so interesting about this project is that it finally seemed to satisfy all of the questions I had been wondering. Where is the place for historical fiction, or even nonfiction altogether, in the genre of the graphic novel? Although as I continued searching I could not actually find the final product of this novel (please let me know if you do!) I still have a restoration of my faith in the possibilities for the future of the graphic novel. As many people know, the genre is often dismissed as fantastical, solely concerning superheroes, or even downright silly and only meant for kids.
However, a story based on a 50 year mystery regarding the death of two children does not seem so juvenile to me.
For more information on the project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/803019745/molly-a-real-life-murder-mystery-as-graphic-novel