• Carlos Luis

Liberating Imaginations through Comic Books

When we travel or have a casual walk in a park we observe a lot of events happening around us. Our eyes see and decipher images, colours, and stories that they narrate. That is the reality that we observe around us which doesn’t require our imagination to run wild. But when it comes to Visual Literature, it gives us an opportunity to enter into different worlds created by different artists Indian and Western. It is intriguing to see the different styles and methods used in Visual Literature.


As opposed to Visual Communication, Visual Literature refers to graphic storytelling. Will Eisner used the term, “Sequential Art” to describe it. Scott McCloud further improved upon it and said it is “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence.” Sequence because these are a string of images in a chain that must be read one after the other to gather the meaning.


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This November the Department of English Literature of Parvatibhai Chowgule college is celebrating the Comic Book November. So from 31st October to 29th November on every Saturday and Sunday, there is a discussion on 10 different prominent comic books; The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman, Watchmen, Kamala Khan, Wonder Woman, Sandman, The Killing Joke, Sandman and Akira.


Each of these comic books navigates us to the creation and varied storytelling techniques used by great artists. It is a creative way of expressing one’s imagination. Alison Bechdel notes that she illustrates her novels because she feels that alongside the written material the illustration gives life to the words. And both the illustrations and the written word cannot remain apart they go hand in hand when it comes to visual literature. Whether it is the panelling, the icons, the transitions, the onomatopoeia, the colour, or the time frame. All of it works as a beautiful artwork transporting us to a different world altogether.


The fact that these discussions are happening makes it evident that literature is on flux and evolving. This discussion help in creating awareness that literature such as this is also important as it narrates highly important issues in a pictorial format making it interesting for the readers.



Initially one gets troubled as to how one must understand what the author or the illustrator is telling us. But when one gets into the universe that the author along with the illustrator has created it becomes easy to grasp the nuances.

Graphic novels or comics are not easy to create; it takes a huge amount of time and effort to narrate a story. First of all, to imagine what the author has put in words and then to draw it as per the expectations of the author. This kind of art gets children attracted towards itself but even adults have a take away from it. It is an entertainer alongside liberating one’s imagination. When one reads a comic one becomes the character in the comic. The character could be anyone that one relates to. After becoming the character, one enters the universe and experiences what the character feels and behaves. This experience in turn gives him or her the pleasure to live the other character. Alongside understanding the life situations, the intricacies or complexities involved in different characters.


Here even the words are given a lively expression. They can resound in our ears even when they are written on paper. The way they are written and expressed, they tell a tale of their own. Visual Literature is a trend that will never die. As opposed to literature that involves just words, visuals infuse life into the written word. In movies you see a continuous action happening at a stretch but in visual literature, you observe and feel every frame. One cannot miss the emotions, the sound, the whisper in everything that the illustrator creates.


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Warren Ellis says, “Comics are the purest form of visual narrative.” David Mazzucchelli says, “There are times when a beautiful image makes sense as good storytelling in ways that are not easily explained.” Sometimes we cannot concentrate on words and try to understand what they mean to us but the visuals tell us what exactly the author or the illustrator is trying to say.


The moment we hear comics we link it to children and say that it doesn’t refer to me. But there is more to comics and visual literature. Indians have explored visual literature to tell their stories starting from Orijit Sen whose novel, ‘River of Stories,’ happens to be the first Indian graphic novel. The novel explains the environmental, social, and political issues that surrounded the Narmada Dam construction. There are many other graphic novels that came after this and they are remarkably doing well. If not words alone images drive home the point. Besides reading a graphic novel or a comic book gives you the opportunity to be an artist in an artistic world. Why would one want to miss that opportunity? Gary Panter says, “An artist is anyone trying to be an artist, secretly, publicly or accidentally in any medium.” Discussing these comics in the Comic Book November gives wings to our artistic desires.


Copyright ©2020 THE GOAN EVERYDAY


The article was first published on THE GOAN EVERYDAY newspaper click HERE to check.


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