Spring Semester 2002
Combined Literary Media in "Klassik Komix"
The original form of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is a poem, made up of poetic prose. Prose can vary in lexical makeup, which is decided by the writer, but usually consists of descriptions of subjects that allude to, and are analogous of, the underlying thoughts of the writer. This gives the lines a sense of vague beauty that allows the reader to interpret meanings in his/her own mind in contrast to simply spelling out the meanings. Poetry has the ability to evoke upon the reader a sense of reflection and deep thought in an effort to understand the message that the writer is delivering.
The classic comic book is a polar opposite of the complex nature of poetry. The comic book is designed for the younger reader and possesses a simplistic nature that allows the creator to use visual media combined with short written dialog to tell a story. The pictures in a comic book are an integral part of the makeup of a comic book. The pictures allow the creator to portray the protagonist and antagonist in a way that is common to all readers. This however inhibits the use of imagination by the reader. The pictures are all an artist's interpretations of the actions and settings that make up each scene. When a person reads descriptive text with no pictures, it allows the reader to build a mental picture of each scene that is unique to his/her own personality. The comic book does not allow for this expressiveness in its prefabricated structure.
Millhauser elegantly combines these two literary vehicles in his work "Klassik Komix" in a way that simplifies the form but still allows the reader to use his/her mind to draw its own pictures. "In the room women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo"(stanza 3). Elliot uses these two simple lines to describe a room that the character, Alfred, will enter. These two sentences are very vague in their descriptive nature and leave most of the details up to the reader to fill in. Millhauser uses Panel 8 to describe the same room:
In the poem Elliot uses the lines, "I should have been a pair of rugged claws / Scuttling across the floors of the silent seas" (stanza 15). These are the words of the character Alfred. The words are an expression of Alfred's discontent stemming from his actions expressed in the prose. Millhauser uses this situation with Alfred to create an environment of magical realism that is often used in comic books. Millhauser uses panels 22 and 23 to describe the scene where Alfred actually turns into a sea crustacean. The scene lends itself to the "Art for Art's Sake" personality that Millhauser has a tendency to express. By changing the media, upon which the poem lines are expressed, Millhauser has allowed himself to create a parody of Elliot's work. The comic book format allows the room for comedic sensationalism, which lightens up the atmosphere of the work. This creates another angle for the reader to interpret the work, possibly altering the purpose of the work.
Millhauser obviously loves to manipulate words and
engage the imagination of the reader. His work exemplifies the meaning
of the phrase "Art for Art's Sake." He has combined two literary media into
a creative mix of thoughtful text and imagination.
Copyright © 2002 by Aaron Brock. All rights reserved.