The facture of ‘Dispossession’: trace, colour, light and time in a new graphic adaptation of Trollope’s 1879 novel ‘John Caldigate’.
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractThis paper will discuss my forthcoming adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s John Caldigate (1878) as a new graphic novel, Dispossession. Produced in the context of an academic conference on Trollope in 2015, the new graphic novel functions as a research outcome in the sense that its academic audience is a ‘knowing one’, to use Linda Hutcheon’s term (Hutcheon 2006:122). This audience will both expect to read the graphic novel as the product of a self-aware relationship with Trollope’s novel and make demands upon the new graphic novel that derive from its members’ own, particularly focused, experience of Trollope’s novel itself. As a result, the process of making the adaptation has distilled questions about the act of novel/comic adaptation itself that have enabled the emergence of a methodology for the adaptation process and aimed to produce the new book as a comprehensible response. Two questions have guided the adaptation: 1) What results if the existing generic constraints of graphic novels are self-consciously reformed in the process of adaptation, and the protocol for the new book derives from an analysis of Trollope’s text relative to the behaviours of its time and ours? And 2) How can Dispossession employ and/or depict equivocation in the style of its facture, distinct from the depiction of the plot? Following Walter Benjamin’s theorisation of translation, the process of creating Dispossession approaches Trollope’s text as the source of a protocol or set of governing rules, including an apprehension of the reading behaviours of his contemporaries and of contemporary graphic novel readers (Benjamin 1969:70). As a result, the relationship between novel and graphic novel constitutes both the process and product of adaptation as an experience for a knowing reader. This paper will summarise the rationalisation of methods of facture in response to the guiding questions. In particular, it will consider the ways in which specific historic depictive regimes represent specific diegetic meteorologies, and how these are associated with both historic periods and particular places. In terms of drawing style, the challenge for this adaptation lies not only in identifying the existing different behaviours of novels and graphic novels, but in meaningfully producing a new style of drawing relative to an existing writing style. It is not the task of comparing an existing style of drawing with Trollope’s writing style, but one demanding the speculative creation of new rules within which to draw. As Dispossession also has a research function, the process of meaningfully inventing a new style also demands comprehensive rationalisation. I will discuss how Trollope’s writing style formalises his approach to plot, tying style to genre. In the plot, the narrator both consistently avoids making definitive statements about events and character traits and avoids presenting a definitive opinion. Instead, information is derived from a number of different, and sometimes contradictory, sources and accumulates gradually. Trollope utilises this technique with great consistency. From an analysis of Trollope’s style emerges the question of style in the facture of the adaptation, answers to which finalise its rules of facture: how does Dispossession employ and/or depict equivocation in its facture, distinct from the depiction of the plot? To answer this question, the paper will discuss the broader temporal implications of relationships between types of plot and drawing regimes, considering in detail differences in anaphoras, special locations and discursive traditions using examples of types of facture from 19th century and 21st century narrative drawing.
CitationGrennan, S. (2015). The facture of ‘Dispossession’: trace, colour, light and time in a new graphic adaptation of Trollope’s 1879 novel ‘John Caldigate’. Paper presented at the Comics and Adaptation Conference, University of Leicester, UK.
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