The Dichotomy of Memories

I chose to analyze Dresden Codak’s #21 “Mother” from the Hob storyline.  I found this particular comic to be visually startling for a number of reasons, mainly due to the extreme disunion of color, panel design, and overall tone used in the top and bottom half.   Here, Kimiko recalls her childhood spent abroad and idyllic memories of her mother and, as such, rounder paneling is used to encase the narrative.  This represents the “softness” that happy memories posses and the smoothness with which we can recall them and reflect.  The layout of the top playfully suggests that young Kimiko is traveling underneath the balcony – the ornate architecture of the balcony is used as the outlines for the panels, so Kimiko moves both physically and chronologically through the landscape.  Colors are bright and lively, and colored word bubbles (previously not utilized by the author) suggest a surreal nature, perhaps not the present reality.

Conversely, as soon as Kimiko realizes her surroundings are not what they appear, she immediately recollects the death of her mother.  All subsequent panels are rectangular, with harsh edges and a black backdrop pervading the negative space and casting a sullen shadow of melancholy.  The panels do not blend seamlessly into the environment , but instead stand in stark contrast.  Most do not overlap or intersect and, coupled with the “sharp” edging, create an effect of each image being a separate yet equally painful knife wound in Kimiko’s memory.   It is fascinating and an advantageous aspect of graphic novels to be able to integrate the mood of a piece with the method in which it is presented, in a way that is both visually interesting and narratively cogent.


-Victoria Lang


~ by victoriafrolics on March 20, 2011.

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