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Animal Subjects of the Graphic Novel

From: College Literature
Volume 38, Number 3, Summer 2011
pp. 129-149 | 10.1353/lit.2011.0024

Abstract

Abstract:

In “Animal Subjects of the Graphic Novel” Michael A. Chaney analyzes Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese and David B.’s Epileptic for the way each graphic novel represents animal-human characters and themes and for the way these texts engage, more broadly, with a recent set of theories regarding the animal as a critique of the human. American Born Chinese appropriates and updates Chinese mythology and uses various representations of monkey-human character hybrids in order to foreground animality and race (or animality as race) in its psychic splittings. Like American Born Chinese, the graphic novel Epileptic also exemplifies the graphic novel’s inimitable capacity to articulate visual systems for cognizing the human by resorting to illustrations that pit the human in close proximity to the animal and the monster. The character of Master N is particularly intriguing in this regard, being one of the only characters in the graphic novel that is visually animalistic but also socially interactive with characters other than the author-protagonist alone. Ultimately, the animal in Epileptic becomes the grotesque icon of the Deleuzean becoming of the human, its proliferating transpirations and expirations.



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