In one of the prompts for this week and last week, the theme of Jacob moving the rocks was mentioned as an example research topic. I noticed the theme more and more as I continued to read Genesis, and I am not sure what the significance of the rock pushing is. One thing I noticed is that the rocks he moves tend to always be used to make pillars of stone where sacrifices take place. Does this connect at all to the rock placed in front of Jesus' tomb later in the Bible? If it does, the theme would make sense because Jesus is often considered the greatest sacrifice. I am also wondering why Jacob asks the other people around him to "gather stones" so they can eat on the them (Chapter 33). What could be so significant about these stones and rocks?
Reading the second half of Crumb’s illustration of Genesis, I noticed deception was a common theme throughout the story, and the portrayal of this deception as good or evil seemed inconsistent. For instance, as Isaac goes blind at the end of his life, he wishes to bless his eldest son, but his wife helps Jacob disguise himself instead so he might be blessed. Lying to his father, Jacob receives the blessing meant for his brother, and Esau is left upset and with a vengeance. Basic morality teaches us that lying is wrong, and the bible is conventionally a source of this moral reasoning. Despite this, Jacob is blessed and goes on to be more of a hero than a punished sinner. Later on, we see more deception with Jacob’s sons. When Joseph is taken by Egyptian slavers, his brothers tell their father he was attacked and show him his bloodstained coat. They are plainly sinners here, and when they go before Joseph after his powerful transformation into an Egyptian leader they are punished. Joseph hides his true identity from them, and we once again see deception in the bible, though he does eventually reveal his true self. It is interesting to note these almost contradictory depictions of deception within Genesis, and notice how Crumb depicts these characters as they lie. For both Jacob and Joseph, we see the characters struggle to face those they love through deception, and this perhaps shows the cost of lying better than looking at the text alone.
When I read McCloud I learned a lot about comics that I had never known before, since I have never read any comics besides what was in the funny pages of the newspaper when I was young. He shows how there is a lot of depth in comics and how the illustrators can be masters of both the written and illustrative forms. There are many different styles that were interesting to me, but in particular I related to the Japanese style. They have a very distinct way of illustrating comics, and they use more of the five types than many American illustrators. Having lived in Japan for two years, I saw many relationships between there way of life and how they chose to make there comics. There was blending of old traditions with new technologies in Japan, and I feel like they also are able to accomplish that same blending in their comics. After reading McCloud, I have a new found respect for comics and how they can be a strong visual medium to tell a story or convey a message to the reader, but they can also be more engaging than a normal book. Did anyone else feel this way about comics, and gain a new respect for them after reading McCloud?
McCloud is basically giving us an instructional manual on how comics work. His character is speaking directly to us, rather than through some story. He’s aware of what’s happening in the frames he has drawn and it’s not one-sided. On page 9, his character even stepped outside of the page, which I found to be eye-catching and comical. The images supplement what he’s talking about – often times with the most literal pictures and diagrams. I like that he used varying frame sizes and lengths and sometimes didn’t even include them like on page 26. Something I paid particular attention to were the bold words, which he even mentions on page 49 that when words are bolder, they require lower levels of perception and become more like pictures and as a result, are perceived faster. Although each image is drawn for a specific informational purpose, I think the pictures and comedy help to make it an enjoyable read.
Re-reading Crumb's illustrated Book of Genesis, the importance of beards became more apparent after our discussion last week. In particular, I noticed that despite being closest to God in the beginning, Adam is not bearded. Obviously, God's importance is signified in part by his long, flowing beard, longer and more flowing than any other. Beard's are also given to all the men, but not Adam in the beginning? Why is this? Upon his death, Adam is drawn with a significant beard, probably second only to God. Thus, Adam's significance is realized. One possible explanation is the tree of knowledge. Before eating from the tree, Adam and Eve are unaware of themselves, they simply exist in the Garden of Eden, a blissful land perfectly suited to supporting them. Perhaps, given the overall lack of awareness, Adam was drawn without the beard as means of signifying his good standing with God. It could also be due to the relatively short time which he had existed.
When rereading Crumb after watching the documentary, I could not help but notice the way that he and his brothers described their father. They call him overbearing, tyrannical, and hot-headed. He is completely absent from all their good memories and usually the instigator of the bad ones. Charles even states that he believes he was trying to emulate their father when he would ruthlessly command his brothers around. These characteristics stood out to me because I believe that Crumb may have tapped into them in his depiction of God. God is assigned many of the negative qualities that Crumb sees in his father. His facial expression is almost always one that suggests barely controlled anger and tyranny. Even when bestowing blessings to people, his expression seems to secrete anger. He is also seen as extremely controlling in all his endeavors to oversee Adam and Eve in the garden and halt the tower of Babel construction. I would like to discuss whether this is an area where Crumb allowed his own opinion on his father to leech into the illustrations of Genesis.
The dialogue in Chapter 27 is odd because the name and the relationship of the person is mentioned. The need for clarification is probably due to Jacob’s deception of his father. Jacob approaches his father dressed similar to Esau. The images help keep the distinction of which person is talking. The repetition changes in the last three images because Jacob isn’t dressed as Esau. Crumb kept Jacob’s facial expression as worried and unsure throughout the chapter. He always had sweat coming off of his face. Esau on the other hand has confusion and a sort of hysteria. Isaac sometimes has drops coming out from his face. They are not falling like sweat or tears. I wonder what the droplets are expressing for Isaac.
In the narrative of Joseph, I couldn't help but notice that he cries quite a lot. It's mentioned quite a bit that at certain moments he weeps. In most cases the text just says something along the lines of "he turned away from them and wept." But each time, Crumb draws Joseph full on crying his eyes out, as though his face were the source of the Nile. He takes the time to draw the extra panels to show Joseph crying every instance that his weeping is mentioned. Is there some significance to this? Is it some sign of humility or manliness that he is so moved by emotion?
Crumb’s illustrations are not the same as many “typical” comic artists. He is very detailed and makes his drawings seem realistic. However, I found it interesting the times that he used well-known comic devices. One example is in chapter 6 when God first talks to Noah about the flood. Crumb chooses to use lines emanating from Noah’s face to show a sense of surprise at seeing the Lord. It displays the desired emotion, but almost seems out of place. Another example of a similar addition is in the scene where Abraham intends to sacrifice Isaac. When the messenger appears to Abraham, he is in a frenzy and sweating heavily. The sweat is shown as droplets coming from his face. It strays away from his typical style, again. Why does Crumb change his style in this small way to display emotion?
McCloud spends a lot of time in Chapter 3 explaining the categorization of closure and what lies between the panels. He goes on to explain that most comics contain mostly action-to-action, subject-to-subject, and scene-to-scene between one frame and another. Consider a comic compromised entirely of moment-to-moment frames versus action-to-action frames. The one with only the moment-to-moment frames would certainly be longer, but it would also contain more information that the reader could interpret to the work as a whole. The action-to-action frames of the same thing would be shorter and maybe even more entertaining. These two put next to each other seem like the novel versus the sparknotes. When it comes down to it, all the details do matter to an extent but does truly every detail matter? Or does the action-based one end up victorious by including the majority of the content that the reader needs to know?
McCloud likes to promote the advantages that cartoonish styles of drawing hold over their realistic counterparts. On page 30 he mentioned, “When we abstract an image through cartooning, we're not so much eliminating details as we are focusing on specific details. By stripping down an image to its essential 'meaning', an artist can amplify that meaning in a way that realistic art can't.” McCloud explains that cartoons are conceptually fluid making it easier to amplify meaning and inherently identify with them, versus the realistic. This can be seen in comparing a series of cartoon panels which exist within a realm of ideas making the transition smooth where as realistic drawings are seen more often as a series of still pictures.
When reading McCloud I learned a lot about comics. McCloud's comic is like a guide to how comics work and gives the reader the ability to write their own comic when learning from McCloud. He has his cartoons talk directly to the reader,varies his frames and explains a concept of bolding. I am having a hard time finding the purpose of McCloud other than his explanation of comics.
My copy of Mccloud had not arrived last week when I read the first half of crumb. This week I have and I have to admit, McCloud is a game changer. It explained a lot of techniques used in comics that we take for granted. For example, McCloud says on page 85 "the art of comics is as subjective an art it is additive, and finding the balance between too much and too little is crucial to comics creators the world over". This makes me think about Crumb's portray of sexual encounters, especially the incest scenes, which are considered especially taboo. Crumb claims that he is just drawing it as he reads, a totally "innocent" approach. But McCloud suggests that comics's subjective nature points out the contrary. Crumb's intentionally graphic sexual scenes is meant to convey a message: the ridiculousness of the stories in Genesis. Comics is very accessible to all audiences whether they are kids, adults, with or without education. The differences are what each person see beyond the plot line. McCloud's understanding of Comics gave us a guideline or starting point to explore the deeper concepts and reasons for an author's chosen style and technique.
After I saw the movie about Crumb, I get some new idea about his book and his mind. Crumb is a complicated man, after all the miserable childhood days. He through a lot, and the way he release his emotion is drawing comics. People like good ending and happy story, but why Crumb's ridiculous comic get such huge success? I think the real and cynical way made people find a way to see ourselves. He showed darkness deep inside of us. Compared to his book, I was more interested in himself. He is such a conflicted man. The angry and self-mockery we can find everywhere in his book. He is such a free man, do whatever he want, draw whatever he think.