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The paper for this course should consist of a ten-page aesthetic, iconographic, and contextual analysis of a graphic novel of your choice. You may choose to compare graphic novels,

Introduction to the Graphic Novel N. C. Christopher
The paper for this course should consist of a ten-page aesthetic, iconographic, and contextual analysis of a graphic novel of your choice. You may choose to compare graphic novels, but it is usually best to focus on one, with some reference to others for context. I recommend that you choose a graphic novel that you really like and find interesting. You may write on one of the books assigned, but it might be more rewarding to choose a book not assigned for the course.
Identification and Publication History
You should identify the work(s) by title, identify the creators involved in the work, and include publication data, including date, place, and company. You should give background information on the creators as appropriate to your analysis, indicating which are writers, artists, etc., and what other works (of comic art or in other fields) they have created.
Visual/Formal and/or Iconographic Analyses
Comics have pictures. You must analyze these. Your analyses of the visual, linguistic, narrative, and contextual elements of the graphic novel will be intertwined in your paper of course, but you need to make sure you treat all these aspects of the work. A separate section on style, visual structure, artistic techniques might also make your paper stronger.
It may be helpful to thoroughly analyze a single page of the work as a key to the style of the whole; or to analyze a series of panels from several pages. You might consider such elements as line; color, light, and value; proportion and scale; viewpoint(s); and the integration of various kinds of text within the work(s).
To the extent relevant, you should discuss the technical aspects of the work, with attention to the creation of the original, and the integration of elements in the printing process (e.g., black and white originals may be created with brush, pen and ink, zipatone or wash shadings, CAD, etc.; color overlays that may be added by using various printing plates, computer files, etc.).
Iconographic analysis, put simply, is what the pictures show, and the meanings of how they show them, Identification of characters within the work is a necessary step in iconographic analysis (superheroes, talking animals, children), but backgrounds, settings, and page structure (particularly repeated templates for page structure) are important iconographic features in comic art.
Genre, Narrative Techniques, and Social Context
It may be appropriate to identify the work in relation to the genres discussed in the class (superhero, nonfiction, autobiography). Your discussion of narrative techniques involves both the aesthetic structure of the graphic novel(s) and techniques of storytelling. The formal, iconographic, and textual structure that makes up the narrative of the work involves both how individual pages are created and how the work is structured as a whole. Information and discussions on page structure, narrative, and storytelling can be found in any of Will Eisner’s books on making comics: Comics & Sequential Art, Graphic Storytelling, and Expressive Anatomy; or Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics.
In addition, the social context of the work should also be part of your paper, both within the history of comic art and that of society as a whole. Please include analyses of social context of the types presented in class within your discussion of the work you choose.
Every work comic art is simultaneously unique and part of an aesthetic, literary, economic, and social universe. You should situate your work(s) and, as appropriate, compare it with similar works. It may be also appropriate to compare the work(s) to antecedent or contemporary works in other media (prose writing, film, animation, etc.).
Please provide appropriate illustrations drawn from the work(s) that is the object of your analysis, and if it seems appropriate, those with which you compare it. You may insert the illustrations into the text or place them at the end, but if they appear in the text, be sure that the text is a full ten pages not including them.
Your paper should include a bibliography that includes the works analyzed and used for comparison, as well as other references used. Some of your references will come from the Internet, but you must also use published works that are appropriate. Your bibliography must include at least one peer reviewed book or article used for research on your topic. Please consult your section leader if you have any questions. You may follow the bibliographic model on the syllabus, or in any of the guides indicated below.
If you have not written a paper dealing with the visual arts before, you may find it helpful to consult a handbook on writing about the visual arts such as Henry Sayre’s Writing About Art, David Carrier’s Art Writing, and/or reference such as James Smith Pierce’s From Abacus to Zeus: A Handbook of Art History. Your section leader will glad to advise you individually as well. The paper should be handed in on the last day of class (May 17).

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