AHIS 430 – Graphic Novel Project

For AHIS 430 class, I’ve chosen to adapt Edgar Allen Po’s “The Tell-Tale heart”. Here I’ve complied a few intial thoughts about the overall tone and direction that I want to take

The Tell-Tale heart is a classic of the gothic genre, and thus I feel lends itself to a simple black and white colour palette. That being said, black and white feels very obvious, so I could still keep the same tone but use dark, desatured tones.

As for the actual style of the writing, it very much comes across as a stream of conciouness and the narrator relays their version of events to the reader. The narration plays a huge role throughout the story, supporting the plot and tone of the story. While I don’t think a wordless adaption is impossible, I wonder if the gothic charm of the story would be lost. However, I will need to drastically shorten the script as Po can be rather long winded, and ultimately comics are a visual medium. Additionally, I want to keep the vibes of the original script as I feel that it is a huge source of charm and interest.

I’m also playing with different ideas on how to include the narration into the story. I tend not to prefer boxes with narration as they run the risk of creating a halting rythm. The story very much has a stream of conciouness feel and the only really pauses are moments of high tension such as the seconsd leading up to the old man’s murder and when the narrator is convinced they can still hear the heart beating beneath the floorboards. Additionally I think that typesetting the narration would make the story feel a little too stiff and impersonal, especially as the narrator is addressing the reader. I want the writing style to look a little frantic and fluid.

Additionally, I think this story gives a lot of oppurtunity to give the panneling unique characteristics. The panels would be an interesting avenue of relaying some of the emotions the narrator is feeling instead of soley relying on narration(especially as I’m going to have to cut down the script). One idea I’ve considered is drawing panels in where the narrator is espeically stressed with with wobbling lines. Another idea it so have use overlapping panels. I would have to use this second idea rather sparely though. While I think that the former idea communicates the idea of anxiety (and specifically how overwhelming the narrator finds it), I wonder if I’m sacrificing legiabiliy in the process. However, a chaotic page might add to the story, tonally speaking. 

3 thoughts on “AHIS 430 – Graphic Novel Project

  1. Celia – I’m super pumped to see what you come up with. Your ideas are all great and seem very on track, and you make good points about the narrator being a prominent entity and the success of a limited colour palette. I wonder, since the narrator is such a prominent character in this story, would there be a benefit of telling the story through somebody elses eyes that acts as the narrator? Perhaps told in a third person view from a mouse that lives in the walls/floor and witnesses all of the events in sequence and then has to scurry away into a different wall while the antagonist shoves the man under the floorboards. I don’t think this would be easy but it would certainly put a new, fresh spin on a classic tale.

    I’m excited as always to see what comes out of your style, its always such a treat to look at.

  2. I agree with you about Poe’s writing style- it is absolutely the reason this story has remained as well known as it is. And even though you’ll be cutting out a lot of the text, I think you can make up for the charm with your illustration style and with the way you integrate the text into the story.

    In terms of the text, I agree that using a font would be too stiff and would recommend writing it by hand. Handwriting would also mimic the stream of conscious style of speaking. Additionally, it could even bring to mind the idea of writing in a diary.If you wanted to lean into the gothic aspects of the story with the text you could maybe write it all in cursive…Though this could become very difficult to read in places. Especially considering that it will most likely be written in white on a black background. Always remember to think about the thickness of the letter’s strokes- they will help ensure readability!

    In terms of narration I agree that boxes are not always the best way to include narration.I think boxes would make the text feel seperated from the images which wouldn’t be appropriate as the narrator is clearly very emotional as they recount the story. I think you should incorporate the text into the illustration and backgrounds. It would match the story’s tone and add a lot of charm and interest into the illustrations.

    I agree with you in terms of that the paneling may become confusing if used frequently. I would save this style for the climax of the story. Have you considered using no white borders- or having things spill out of them as the scene becomes more chaotic. Also, I would recommend playing with extreme diagonals and angling the compositions- it will make things feel more unstable, uneasy and chaotic.

    Good luck! I can’t wait to see this when it’s done!

  3. this plan looks good! i like the idea of using a variety and unconventional panels to tell the chaotic part of the story better. i think that as long as you use these types of panels in the moments of the story where it’s really chaotic and have everything else more orderly, it will help with the legibility part. good luck!

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