When you first look at Lynn Wards woodcut novel, Vertigo, you think this is going to be an easy read due to it being a “picture book”, but think again. Due to this novel not having words to help understand the images it made the reading much more complicated to translate. While also reading Understanding Comic, by Scott McCloud, we were able to learn how illustrators form comics/pictures to get a strong and valuable meaning across to the readers and we see this being well done by Ward. By being more aware of what details to look for in images, we are able to get deeper into Ward’s images and analyze the meaning that reading is trying to get across.
In Chapter 4, McCloud talks about time frames and how images can be understood as a short or long period of time. He states, “Just as pictures and intervals between them create an illusion of time through closure, words introduce time by which representing that which can only exist in time—sound” (McCloud, page 94). So when I first saw this I immediately thought of the graduation ceremony illustrated in Vertigo. In this scene we are shown the Principle giving this speech to the graduating students of the creation of America itself. When you first glance at the images provided by Ward you can easily pin point what time in history the principle is actually talking about. What Ward does though, is make this images more detailed and abstract, so if one looks and pays attention more closely to each image they would be able to tell that it is more than a dull speech of the upcoming of America and what the future can hold for the fellow graduates. With this concept of time that McCloud speaks of, we can see how Ward was able to apply it to his novel or in this case the Principles speech. Without words, Ward was able to describe in fewer illustrations than could have been the point the principle was trying to get across. From what we have learned about comics, we are able to look at the details of the images more closely and turn the illustrations into this elaborate story full of meaning and emotions.
In class, we took a lot of time talking about this particular scene in the novel and with an elaborate discussion were able to come together to point out small details in the images that may have not been clear to others. For example, we talked about how from the start of the Principles speech he somewhat resembled a puppet, stiff and emotionless, but when he really got into his speech later on he was arms fully extending, smile on his face, just displaying all kinds of brilliant emotions. This I would say can tie into this idea made by McCloud that, “words introduce time by which representing that which can only exist in time—sound” (pg. 94). Ward was able to represent from the start to finish the level of enthusiasm in the speech and how over time just through his detailed images we were able to make more concepts out of the images compared to if words would have laid the story out for us.
To conclude, we can obviously see how Vertigo is considered a complicated novel if you do not know how to translate or look deeper into the images to get a more appealing and understanding story. By reading both McCloud and Ward’s novels together definitely was a good decision because we were able to link the one to the other forming a magnificent novel that is only illustrated by images. It is crazy to think that just through a hundred or so images that a story with a strong meaning can be presented without words. With Ward’s talent, he was able to cut out so many images that would not be able to done in a word novel; with each of his illustrations being precise and elaborate that tell a timely story of the memorable times and the harsh times.