Comically serious: trauma and shame in coming-of-age graphic narratives
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The visually arresting nature of the graphic form has appealed to youth from its international emergence in the early twentieth century. Comics of the past, from Little Nemo to The Yellow Kid, were brief and insubstantial, with “a certain naïve vitality to them, which was an accurate reflection of their age,” (Berger, 19). Graphic novels, however, deviate from these predecessors and are widely read in the current, less innocent age by its arguably less innocent youth. Therefore it is important to examine both the medium and messages of the graphic form and how it not only relates to the current young generation, but also how it re-appropriates the age-old trope of the coming-of-age story, a form of literature that has been crucial and mandatory reading in schools for decades due to the coming-of-age that inevitably follows adolescence. This paper briefly looks at the relevance of women within coming-of-age graphic novels and examines the questionable idea, posed by author Hillary Chute, that some female-authored narratives best convey ideas of trauma and public versus private spheres. It then looks at these issues in relation to a male-authored coming of age graphic narrative and in relation to the trauma of shame, and argues that this story conveys all these elements satisfactorily.