graphic novel as illuminated manuscript 03.21.2005, 2:51 PM
posted by kim white
The institute is hosting a competition called Born Digital 1: Illumination, which asks artists, writers, programmers, and designers to address the conceptual underpinnings of illuminated manuscripts in the context of the born digital artifact. We are playing somewhat loose with the term "illuminated manuscript." Our "Born Digital" contest asks for a single page rather than an entire book and is not necessarily interested in a literal reinvention of the form (unless you've come up with a particularly great one). We are intrigued by the fact that illuminated manuscripts do not separate text and image into different disciplines requiring separate platforms for display and critical discourse. We find that, in the workshop of the digital medium, disciplinary amalgams are once again emerging, and we would like to examine this shift.
Without attempting to give a history of the evolution of this form, I will, over the next several days, point out a few contemporary models that pay tribute to medieval illumination. The graphic novel comes immediately to mind. Chris Ware's, "Jimmy Corrigan the Smartest Kid on Earth, Art Spiegelman's, "Maus," and David B's, "This Sweet Sickness," have shown us the power of image and text working in tandem to deliver a profound aesthetic, emotional, and intellectual experience.
Early digital versions of the graphic novel include Pyramids of Mars, which was published in 1997 by Richard Douglas and Geoffrey Holmes, and claims to be the first downloadable digital graphic novel. And Scott Frazier's TRANSCENDENCE which the author describes as: partially animated, partially illustrated and partially text. It will, hopefully, stretch the bounds of multimedia and become something new, more than a mere fusion of comic and animation.
And thanks to friend Douglas Wolk, the absolute authority on graphic novels (and one of the smartest and nicest guys I know) for the following recommendations: "Patrick Farley's, "The Spiders," is wonderful and uses the medium nicely. Dylan Meconis's, "Bite Me" is pretty much just scanned images, but she serialized the whole thing online, and she's like 19 years old and super-fun."
I hope this serves as a useful beginning for discussion on graphic novel as illuminated manuscript. I'm relying on readers to help me flesh the idea out.
Posted by kim white on March 21, 2005 2:51 PM
Bronwyn Noble] on July 21, 2005 6:59 PM:
While I agree with you that graphic novels are art, I cannot agree that they are illuminated manuscripts. Illuminated -- without a doubt, and well-done. Manuscripts? No, at least not in published form. This is due to the fact that the term "manuscript" means "done by hand." The original hand-lettered, hand-painted, hand-lined does fit the definition -- the published forms are simply facsimiles.