Monday, November 12, 2007
Unlike reading other kinds of genre, the reading of a graphic novel/comic book requires a greater degree of audience involvement than in any other genre. I think McCloud emphasizes this on several instances throughout the first part of Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. McCloud first points out reader’s participation as he explains the comic rendition of Magritte’s painting. After McCloud explains the true treachery of images, he directly questions the reader, “Do you hear what I’m saying?” (25). The rhetorical question serves many purposes. One of them is the level of identification with the reader. The author/speaker phrases a question in a way that the typical reader would hear or use in his or her world. This strengthens the level of identification: the figure of McCloud becomes closer to the reader, because of the apparent “similarities.” The second purpose of the rhetorical question is pointed out in McCloud’s response: “If you do, have your ears checked, because no one said a word” (25). This shows that the author/speaker figure becomes an inner voice for the reader. As a result, the authorial figure becomes further identified with the reader; the voice becomes part of the reader him or herself. The process, I think, is easily facilitated in the graphic novel/comic book genre rather than in any other genre, because, as McCloud points out, “when you enter the world of the cartoon, you see yourself” (36). Moreover, the comic book artist depends on the reader’s imagination to navigate across the panels, as McCloud points out, “every act committed by to paper by the comics artist is aided and abetted by a silent accomplice…the reader” (68). This, I think, leads me to believe that in the comic book, audience participation seems to be crucial, almost necessary. This is fostered by the process of identification that is established between the reader and the comics characters.