Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Blot

One of the most exciting debuts in graphic novels this year was The Blot by Tom Neely. Neely's first novel is the story of a character afflicted by a force made visible through ink blots on the page. Sometimes the blots are small and subtle. Sometimes they dominate the page or the panel. Sometimes the blot destroys and sometimes the blot creates. It's one of the strongest central images I've read in recent literature. The strength of a particular image, whether visually or verbally constructed, does not come from the clarity with which it conveys a particular idea, but from its ability to provide structure for whatever ideas are important to me as I read. An image like the blot can be anything, but when I read it, I saw the complexities of humanity's drive to create. Sometimes that drive is the only thing we have. Other times it pushes us to dangerous ambitions and foolish delusions. The drive to create helps us build relationships, but other times it drives us apart from each other. Other readers of The Blot will find other ideas for the blot to represent and I think that is a success. Neely guides us in the direction of this interpretation with a few subtle nods to one of the great images in American literature: Moby-Dick. Below are links to a recent interview with Tom Neely about The Blot and about his art in general.

Part One.
Part Two.

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