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The Cambridge Companion to the American Graphic Novel explores the important role of the graphic novel in reflecting American society and in the shaping of the American imagination. Using key examples, this volume reviews the historical development of various subgenres within the graphic novel tradition and examines how graphic novelists have created multiple and different accounts of the American experience, including that of African American, Asian American, Jewish, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ communities. Reading the American graphic novel opens a debate on how major works have changed the idea of America from that once found in the quintessential action or superhero comics to show new, different, intimate accounts of historical change as well as social and individual, personal experience. It guides readers through the theoretical text-image scholarship to explain the meaning of the complex borderlines between graphic novels, comics, newspaper strips, caricature, literature, and art.
Literary adaptions in comics are not a recent phenomenon, but until recently the cultural status of this kind of work has always been very low, and a certain distrust has dominated the debates for many decades, the main reason of this suspicion being the fear that “fidelity” to the adapted model might jeopardize the proper creative possibilities of the adapting medium. More and more recent examples from the graphic novel field, which aims at becoming a literary practice itself, do not only show that literary adaptations can be very valuable, they also demonstrate that it is possible to use the notion of fidelity itself in highly creative ways. Taking its departure from specific case studies, Olivier Deprez’s adaptation of Kafka’s The Castle (2003), Paul Karasik (script) and David Mazzuchelli’s adaptation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass (2005), Simon Grennan’s adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s John Caldigate (2015), and Sébastien Conard’s adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s Watt (2019), this chapter examines the most important techniques that can be used to transfer a novel into a visual narrative in print. It pays particular attention to the visuality of the text as it is transferred from one medium to another (typography, page layout, text as drawing).
This chapter deals with the specific role and place of the graphic novel in the contemporary literary field. It first addresses the widely debated analogies and differences between comics and graphic novels, while making a clear plea for the autonomy of the latter. It then studies the history of the graphic novel, with a strong emphasis on questions of publication format and cultural reception. Finally, it also discusses the question of canon formation and the relationships between mainstream and minority cultures in the field.
This introduction briefly deals with the major orientations of this European Review Focus on ‘European crime fiction’. It first specifies what is meant by ‘Europe’ and which type of questions can be asked of crime fiction in view of a better understanding of Europe’s multiple and changing identities. It then presents the various contributions by linking them with the three fundamental questions of (1) circulation of crime fiction, (2) expansion of crime fiction in the broader cultural, social and economic field, and (3) the relevance of crime fiction for a thorough reflection on some properly European aspects of culture and society.
Noir is a genre label with a long and complex history. The success of certain European home-grown forms of the genre (the French polar, the Scandinavian noir, etc.) invite us to reflect on the range but also the limits of the label in today’s European culture. The seemingly paradoxical example of Donald Westlake’s Ordo, an American noir novel that is perhaps neither ‘truly American’ nor ‘noir’ (and perhaps not even a ‘novel’) will serve here as a test case for some reflections on the actual use and function of the noir label in European literary culture.
This article deals with the age-old problem of the literary canon, from a perspective that tries to supersede the still dominating questions of nation building or mainstream versus minorities culture. Taking stock from the observation that recent debates have moved the question to the field of the creative industries as well as that of cultural policy, it asks instead questions on the actual use and use-value of the canon, which is here reframed from the point of view of both writers and policy makers.
The Cambridge History of the Graphic Novel provides the complete history of the graphic novel from its origins in the nineteenth century to its rise and startling success in the twentieth and twenty-first century. It includes original discussion on the current state of the graphic novel and analyzes how American, European, Middle Eastern, and Japanese renditions have shaped the field. Thirty-five leading scholars and historians unpack both forgotten trajectories as well as the famous key episodes, and explain how comics transitioned from being marketed as children's entertainment. Essays address the masters of the form, including Art Spiegelman, Alan Moore, and Marjane Satrapi, and reflect on their publishing history as well as their social and political effects. This ambitious history offers an extensive, detailed and expansive scholarly account of the graphic novel, and will be a key resource for scholars and students.