BY AIMEE VALENTINE
Dearest Readers, Thank you for joining us for the graphic memoir edition of inkt|art. This issue aims to raise questions: How do we represent ourselves, our lives, and our memories? How do we do it in a way that is interesting to the eye? That tells the truth? That exposes? Graphic memoir is a slow burning process, an evolution of art and ideas from the recesses of our psyches. It’s personal. And translating personal history into public art is not only brave, it’s a process fraught with self-doubt.
The seven pieces in this collection were chosen for the different approaches the creators took to the genre of memoir. Sai Li uses sequential art and soft watercolor throughout “Shing,” telling a childhood story of regret and sorrow. The darkest moments of the story are reflected in the palette, as the images become stark and metaphorical. The end of “Shing” is made more haunting as a result of the darkness at its center. In “Words: A Love Story,” Leanne Grabel uses wild and brilliant splashes of color to bring alive her close-up, fragmented images. She juxtaposes the art with typed text on a blank background. In this way, she establishes an aesthetic boundary between image and text while reinforcing the need for both to tell the full story. Alternately, Cesca Waterfield‘s “Four Pieces” focuses on prose, with black and white drawings which serve as chapter headings. The images are not literal illustrations of the story, but inform the reading of it. The autobiographical story is written in third person, as well, embracing a postmodern approach to the genre.
In “The Sex Photos,” SB‘s graphic approach is honest and unflinching, reflecting its subject. The youthful simplicity of her stick figures renders the final message of the piece that much more heartfelt and disruptive. Jessy Randall‘s “15 Comics” is another excellent example of experimentation within the genre of graphic memoir. Randall uses diagram comics and visual poetry in a series of flash-vignettes, creating a non-linear, non-sequitur puzzle of her life. In “One Night on Broadway,” Noel Franklin dives into a single evening’s anecdote, using heavy ink and gutterless panels to immerse the reader in a memory. After just two pages, we feel we were there, too. Finally, in “Memoir and Modernity: The Marvelous Madame Hollander,” Nicole Hollander discusses her atypical approach to graphic memoir and teases us with her latest online project.
It’s been a great pleasure to witness the various modes creators are using to explore their histories graphically. I hope you all enjoy this special issue of inkt|art. Happy holidays!