Saturday, February 13, 2016

Outsiders and Insiders

I've read two interesting graphic novels recently. Both of them I picked up while exploring the graphic novel section of the Central Library.

One was called 'The Vicar Woman' by Emma Rendel. This was an eerie story that really explores the idea of responsibility over other people especially within your community. The story is about a strange town that feels collectively guilty over something awful that happened, although they desperately try to convince themselves and others that they are blameless. They believe building a huge church and inviting a vicar to give sermons can be the way to redemption.  The story does a great job showing how people so adamantly try to convince themselves they are not responsible over things that really they are (Even if it is not their responsibility alone, and even if they are not the perpetrators). It shows that staying silent and doing nothing is a choice that people should take responsibility for.

The Vicar Woman really reminded me of the old movie called 'The Wicker Man.' The two stories reminded me of eachother in tone and plot, not so much in theme or lesson. I think the similarities must be purposeful on the part of Emma Rendel especially since the title of the graphic novel is so similar to 'The Wicker Man' as Vicar and Wiker rhyme. The reason the two stories remind me of each other especially is because both are eerie stories about outsiders interacting with a community that has a dark secret. The island that the Vicar goes to seems normal, or cheerful at first arrival. But the longer she is there, the more she notices things are off and that there is something dark and sinister going on. I haven't seen The Wicker Man in years, but I definitely remember that the seemingly cheerful community form that movie also has a dark secret.

Another thing I liked about 'The Vicar Woman' that I liked was the art. Rendel has a really unique and playful style of art. The characters are illustrated in a strange way that lends to  the eerie, slightly-off feeling of the entire novel.

The next graphic novel I read was a more traditional story called "Just So Happens" by Fumio Obata. This is a story about a woman with a rocky relationship with both her parents. She lives in London although she was born and raised in Japan. After she hears the sad news that her father died, she goes back to Japan for his funeral. The story is a lot about a woman trying to understand her own identity in relationship to her family and her two homes (England and Japan). This story gives me an idea about the confusion of belonging to two cultures at once. Sometimes the main character Yumiko feels like an outsider in both the English and Japanese culture, even though she belongs to both. 

The art in "Just so Happens' is also very beautiful. It has a more realistic style but still illustrative. The medium that Obata uses is watercolor which gives the story a more airy feeling. This lends well to a story that is so much about memory, reminiscing and recollections of the past. 

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