Graphic Novel Review: Anh Ngo

The graphic novel that I read over the semester is called Here by Richard McGuire. Here is not like a traditional comic book. The timeframe of the novel ranges between the year 500,957,406,073 B.C. to the year 2033 A.D. The layout of the novel is similar to a time capsule collage. There isn’t much words written in the novel, instead, each panel (6 panels, in total of about 36 panels throughout the novel) consist of dates and images of what a location looks like from that time period. Not only that, every few pages consist of the same location, but at different time period, telling a story about age, changes, and history. I believe artist, Richard McGuire’s idea behind this is to demonstrate the topic of changing narrative of a location and/or ones’ life.  

Here by Richard McGuire

One example of the page layout is shown in the image on the right. The image consists of three girls dancing inside a yellow room. The room itself is dated back to 1964. However, in each of the three panels, the dates are different. 1932 is a young girl with short blond hair and yellow poka-dotted jumpsuit. 2014 is a younger girl wearing a blue dress and blue boots. 1993 seems to be an older girl wearing a tainted yellow dress and bending backwards. All three are dancing to a woman playing the piano in the background. There isn’t much information on this page except that these three girls are all having a grand time but at different time period, demonstrating that there could be similar events happening in one location, even if they are occurring at different times. However, not every page’s juxtaposition is as happy and colorful as this. Other stories are much darker. Some shows natural disasters such as a flood inside a one beautiful home, while others show man-made disasters such as a house fire.

In conclusion, the artist plays with time and panels to demonstrate changes. The novel is filled with unexpected images and surprises. Not every story are the same, making it even more enjoyable. And with the lack of words in some of the stories, it does not distract the readers from understanding what the story may be about. Instead, it made the readers stop and analyze the pages, trying to understand what is going on by somewhat making up a shorter story of their own. Although there were not as many text, it still took me a couple of hours to finish it.

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