A Deeper Look at CwG

This week, we’ve been looking at Will Eisner’s Contract With God!
One of the consistent themes we discussed were the use of visual elements to enhance meaning. I’m going to review some of our discussions on this topic, adding a few of my own examples. One instance of this was the use of lettering to add tone to the words or otherwise enrich the meaning. We discussed the dripping letters in rainy scenes, letters etched in stone for emphatic lines or titles, bolded or block letters for angry/shouting scenes, and the bubble itself breaking down when Frimme has a heart attack. Another example of this is when the super discovers his dog was killed (p. 113); the words are dripping as if with poison, and appear shaky to indicate the super’s distraught tone of voice. The bubble is thin and wavery, drawn in a sketch-like manner, that portrays the super’s gasp of horror.
Another example is the use of character’s body language to fill in the details that an omnipotent narrator might have given us in a traditional novel. In some scenes where there is only dialogue, we learn much more about what’s going on through the characters’ stance and facial expression. We discussed how Eisner’s tells us how to feel about characters through the way he draws them (the super is drawn both animalistic/cruel and pathetic/emotional; we’re supposed to read him as both creepy and sympathetic; the little girl is drawn seductively, so we know that she is much older emotionally than a ten year old typically is). Another example of characters’ body language is in the scene where Frimme is talking to his trophy wife/lady friend, his grief and disgust with his life is evident on his face and in his posture, even though he doesn’t say anything throughout the entire scene. His silence and his obvious misery speak clearly through the art. Also, on page 170, after Goldie and Benny discover that neither of them are rich, we see Benny’s posture and facial expression change drastically as he changes from suave deceiver to animalistic rapist.
Overall, it was so interesting to learn a little more about analyzing a graphic text, and how the visual aspect of a graphic novel complicates and enriches our understanding of the text.


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