First Person – Graphic Novel – Research

As suggested to me in the tutorial that I look at some graphic novels/image books that we created based on real life. I thought that by doing this it would give me ideas about presentation and layout, as well as giving me ideas of things that might be worth including in the story.


Ethel & Ernest by Raymond Briggs (1998)

When looking through and reading this book I liked how Briggs has used a combination of smaller and large panels throughout. (As seen in the scanned images below) It appears that the larger panels are for more significant events or key parts to his parents lives. This is something that I could use to show a significant event in the lives of the family members. Also, the books is organised chronologically which makes sense as it’s showing the period of their life together, however, there appears to be sections of the novel which are divided by years. Each section has a specific year which the events in the section happen. Briggs has used an entire page with the date on, which makes it clear to the reader. This is something that I could incorporate into my work having some type of page to help indicate a change in period. By doing this it will also allow me to easily show the time scale. As the reader of this book you are aware that it’s a true story, which I think made me feel more of a connection to the characters. You know that it’s not a fiction novel which means when you are reading about some of the hardest times in their lives you can feel empathy for the characters. This type of empathy is what I want the reader to feel when they are reading through my novel.

Images Scanned in to computer from Briggs, R. (1998) Ernest & Ethel.

Draw what you See by Helga Weissova (1998)

This isn’t a graphic novel but a series of art work that tells a very personal story of what Weissova saw during the war in Germany. The book contains the childhood drawings of the artist and offer a eye witness account from a child perspective of life in Germany, in the ghetto and concentration camp. When reading the small introduction written by Weissova herself, it gave me a sense of what these images were going to be like even before I saw them. I was moved when reading this it made me feel as though I was her. Looking at her drawings (Images below scanned in from her book) both the ones that she completed in the ghetto and those drawn after the war (She couldn’t draw when she was in the concentration camp) show a sense of feeling, they moved me I felt shocked by what I was seeing. Even though I’d learnt a lot about this during my History GCSE it was still shocking to see her work. While Helga Weissova was just documenting what she saw her work creates an emotion within you, it makes you think about the past. This sense of emotion, the ability to make the viewer feel as though they are there with the artist/writter is something that I think is important for me to consider when putting together my novel.

Images Scanned into Computer from Weissova, H. (1998) Draw What you See.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 

This graphic novel again based on a real story used similar techniques to those used in Briggs’s novel.  The use of larger pannels to signal more important events that are taking place. This further emphasis to me that I could use this to show more important events in the timeline. Unlike the other two books this one for me appeared to be very traditional and reminded me of comic book. Though this works for this novel I don’t think that this is something that I will use within my own novel. It does highlight what life is like to be Iran which is what Satrapi intended to do within the novel.

Satrapi, M., 2008. Persepolis, London: Vintage.

Overall, I found that this was useful research to undertake. I feel that I am able to now think about the narrative for the story more and think about how I am going to show the viewer the lives of 4 generation. I think that it’s important for me to try and make the viewer think and feel like they are in the ‘characters’ shoes, make them empathise with them. This is something that I am going to try and achieve throughout the novel.

Briggs, R., 1998. Ethel & Ernest, London: Jonathan Cape.
Satrapi, M., 2008. Persepolis, London: Vintage.
Weissová, H. & Niedersächsischer Verein zur Förderung von Theresienstadt/Terezín, 1998. Zeichne, was Du siehst : Zeichnungen eines Kindes aus Theresienstadt/Terezín = Maluj, co vidíš, kresby jednoho dítěte z Terezína = draw what you see, a child’s drawings from Theresienstadt, Göttingen: Wallstein.

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