It sets a benchmark which, I am convinced, impells a broader engagement from the class as a whole.
My problem is this: The claim was "Comics, including Graphic Novels, have lower literary merit and stature than W. Blake and B. Potter." Our class argued that Comics and G.N.s have just as much literary merit and stature and then proceeded to site reasons as to why Comics/GNs should be considered a high art giving examples such as moral engagemnet, integration, complexity, emotional responsiveness and the such.
The problem I'm having is that the claim was for LITERARY MERIT and LITERARY STATURE not high art. I can't deny that Blake and Potter have high art as well as literary value (I've been told so by people I consider much smarter than me since the highschool grades and although I may not completely agree due with them, due to personal tastes, I can understand why the above mentioned authors places in high art and literature exist). This may all be a problem I'm having with semantics but graphic art is pictures and literary art is words. Although most scholars believe it is in bad taste to seperate Blake from his art and similarly Potter from hers it has been done in numerous anthologies, to the point where I didn't even know that "The Tyger" came with illustrations until second year of university. Likewise, in the North Anthology of Children's Literature, Potter's works are shown with a limited number of illustrations. These are stories and poems that can (even if they should not) stand alone without their artistic counterpart and still flow evenly and be very engaging. I'm doubting whether Comics and GN's can.
For example, remove the pictures from the section of MAUS (pg 201- ) which everyone decided refuted "The Claim" Time Flies... "Vladek died of congestive heart failure on August 18, 1982...Francoise and I stayed with him in the Catskills back in August 1979. Vladek started working as a tinman in Auschwitz in the spring of 1944...I started working on this page at the very end of February 1987... (skipping two frames here)...At least fifteen foreign editions are coming out. I've gotten 4 serious offers to turn my book into a T.V. special or movie. (I don't wanna) In May 1968 my mother killed herself. (She left no note.) Lately I've been feeling depressed." "Alright Mr. Spiegelman... We're ready to shoot!..."
It's a story just that, the place of high art is lost without the visual metaphor of humans wearing mice masks and emanicimated pile of mouse bodies. As is it's place of High Literaturee. It really doesn't shine a light to Blake pure poetry with just the GNs skeletal words showing. Now don't get me wrong, I do think Comics/GNs can be compared to and reside in the same category as masters such as Blake but I'm now skeptical on whether or not they get their based solely on their Literary Merit.