'You will be drawn in': the literary effectiveness of the second person in Eddie Campbell’s Alec : how to be an artist

Tony Davis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

Abstract

Alec: how to be an artist is a graphic novel intertwining autobiography/memoir with the history of the graphic novel itself from the 1980s to the early 2000s. It was written, illustrated and published by the Queensland-based Scot, Eddie Campbell, best known as the illustrator of From hell (written by Alan Moore). This paper seeks to demonstrate that, through a variety of techniques (most notably sustained secondperson narration), the work subverts what structuralist Gérard Genette calls the most fundamental rule of novel writing: that the author must decide to narrate from inside the story via one of the characters (a homodiegetic narration), or from outside (heterodiegetically). Eddie Campbell in an array of forms (author, implied author, commentator and character) is inside and outside this story. He is at times narrator, protagonist and narratee, and at others appears to be a removed (and somewhat bemused) observer, or a powerless agent of fate. At many points the reader too is coopted as protagonist or narratee, thanks to the shape-shifting and unsettling nature of the second-person mode. It will be argued that the use of this unusual narrative mode (with the linked choice of future tense) is not merely a gimmick but a highly effective and appropriate way of telling Campbell’s story.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Encounters
Subtitle of host publicationplace, situation, context papers : the refereed proceedings of the 17th Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs, 2012
EditorsAntonia Pont, Patrick West, Katya Johanson, Cassandra Atherton, Rhonda Dredge, Ruby Todd
Place of PublicationGeelong, Vic.
PublisherThe Australasian Association of Writing Programs
Pages1-12
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780980757361
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventConference of The Australasian Association of Writing Programs (17th : 2012) - Geelong, Vic.
Duration: 25 Nov 201227 Nov 2012

Conference

ConferenceConference of The Australasian Association of Writing Programs (17th : 2012)
CityGeelong, Vic.
Period25/11/1227/11/12

Keywords

  • Narrative mode
  • Second person
  • Graphic novel
  • Temporality

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