cover image Litcomix: Literary Theory and the Graphic Novel

Litcomix: Literary Theory and the Graphic Novel

Adam Geczy and Jonathan McBurnie. Rutgers Univ, $29.95 trade paper (270p) ISBN 978-1-978828-65-0

“Can there be a theory of the graphic novel that is commensurate with literary theory?” ask Geczy (The Artificial Body in Fashion and Art), an art professor at the University of Sydney, and McBurnie, director of the Rockhampton Museum of Art, in this thoughtful if discursive defense of comics. Answering in the affirmative, the authors provide close readings of comics by Nina Bunjevac, the Hernandez brothers, and Simon Hanselmann, among others, while establishing a methodology for evaluating graphic novels as literary works—though the extended discourse on such theorists as Fredric Jameson and G.W.F. Hegel sometimes loses sight of the ostensible focus on graphic novels, despite yielding some astute insights. For instance, the authors suggest that György Lukács’s theory of the novel reveals how such comics as The Boys and Watchmen depict the “interplay between heroism and madness... writ large.” The authors fare better in their close readings, as when they contend that influential Marvel artist Jack Kirby’s speedy drawing habits contributed to the propulsive “narrative tempo” of his works, or that the bathetic comics of Robert Crumb subvert the traditional “rousing ending” of the bildungsroman. Though the dry, academic prose lacks the excitement of the works discussed, this makes a persuasive case for the artistic integrity of graphic novels. (Mar.)