Abstract

Kyle Baker’s graphic narrative, Nat Turner, juxtaposes its images and text in a way strikingly different from the traditional graphic narrative. Baker’s illustrated narrative is almost “silent” or textless. Interspersed on many pages are quotes from the most significant original historical source for the story: Nat Turner’s 1831 confession to Thomas Gray. The juxtaposition of image and text is often complementary, but more often, Baker’s images expand or even contradict Gray’s narrative, creating a kind of antagonistic relationship between word and picture. This essay also traces a similar antagonistic or revisionary relationship between Baker and William Styron’s novel, The Confessions of Nat Turner, as well as the critiques that appeared in William Styron’s Nat Turner: Ten Black Writers Respond, edited by John Clarke. Baker reflects the controversial history of Nat Turner by suspending multiple versions of the historical figure within his graphic narrative.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-4286
Print ISSN
0093-3139
Pages
pp. 168-193
Launched on MUSE
2011-06-26
Open Access
No
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