October 15, 2012

How simple is too simple?

While reading Persepolis, I found the juxtaposition between the serious story of the Islamic revolution and the cartoon depiction of said story very interesting and intriguing. When we read McCloud’s “Vocabulary of Comics” I thought his points were different than anything I had ever heard before, mostly because I had never read a graphic novel or serious comic. Once I began reading Persepolis, however, it was evident how many of McCloud’s points were evident. By making the characters simplistic, the reader is able to see themselves as the image in the cartoon. With the depiction of Satrapi as a regular-looking young girl, the reader can easily identify with her. To us, she is who we were as kids. We can see ourselves thinking these crazy ideas like, “I want to be a prophet,” or remembering having a crush on a boy even though we didn’t really know them. McCloud’s idea of identification through simplicity is very much at work throughout Persepolis. 

I am, however, a little on the fence about how important simplicity really is. I understand that it allows the opportunity for the reader to see themselves in the work, but I do think that there can be too much simplicity. For example, when McCloud discusses the simple face, the circle with two dots for eyes and a line for a mouth, I am not convinced that I see myself in that image. Or when he talks about the electrical outlet looking like a face, I find that a little abstract. I understand completely that it resembles a face, and when he tells me it is a face I believe it. But under normal circumstances, it is just an outlet to me. As humans, we want to see humans in everything, but I think he might draw the line a little too far over. Objects are obviously extensions of ourselves, but to what degree?

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