Filling In The Gutter

This semester at Shepherd I’m taking a graphic novel course. Before you judge or assume graphic novels are all about super heroes and fantasy I’m here to tell you that your wrong. There are many books that have been turned into graphic novels and many graphic novels made that have nothing to do with super heroes. Then there are special ones that made into audio biography style formats like Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. This graphic novel is an assigned reading for the first part of the semester. Fun Home is written and drawn by Alison Bechdel. The story revolves around her life growing up with two siblings and living in a funeral home. She grew up with parents that didn’t show much affection. The story spans many years of her life and ends with her in college. She tells how she comes to terms with her sexuality and how she tells her parents. It’s a fantastic graphic novel that I highly recommend. Our “textbook” in the class is Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud. My professor assigned us to find a concept in our textbook that we found in our reading of Fun Home. The one concept I found was what is called in the comic book world as “the gutter”. The gutter is the space between the panels. Yes most if not all comics have this space but what a good comic does is that it gives us two or more panels and allows our imagination to fill in that space to connect the images together. Here is an example. SPOILER ALERT!file_001

This is a page from Fun Home where is depicts her father’s death. It doesn’t show every detail and every image of his death, but she gives us freedom to imagine on our own of how it happened. There are many examples of this throughout the graphic novel. Unlike movies, graphic novels are not intended to give us every image to tell a story.

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