I have to confess – I like some comics and cartoons. I prefer to think of the ones I like best as Graphic Novels and Animation Art. Talking about “comics” and “cartoons” brings the Roadrunner and Archie and Veronica to mind.
Comics writers and illustrators have created powerful graphic novels and cartoon images. Some of their work tells stories and conveys messages far beyond the power of words alone.
Sometimes a Cartoon Says it Best
The Metropolitan Opera has recognized the power of comics and cartoon illustration. William Kentridge created this short illustration for the Met's Production of Shostakovitch's "The Nose".
This cartoon manages to set the opera's scene and tone in a little over one minute. The cartoon manages to weave a 19th Century Russian absurd short story together with Shastakovitch's 20th Century Soviet realism and Stalinist brutality.
Sometimes A Novel Just Won't Do
Keiji Nakazawa wrote and illustrated the Barefoot Gen manga series to tell a story of the atomic Bombing of Hiroshima through the eyes of a young boy. The first of the nine volumes describes a family's reactions to Japan's militarization and the bombing itself. The books are mostly known for the illustrations of the bombing's immediate aftermath, as seen and understood by an average child. The images are disturbing in a way beyond the power of words alone.
Derf Backderf's My Friend Dahmer is an autobiographical graphic novel revolving around the coincidence that in High School Jeffrey Dahmer orbited close to Derfbeck's small group of unpopular friends. Even Backderf's cover illustration conveys a sense of alienation that I can't get from just words.
It is horror and the absurd where pictures succeed and words fail. I challenge anyone to explain Salvadore Dali's The Persistence of Memory in any number of words.