Confronting Violence in Contemporary Prose Writing from the North of Ireland
Chapter 8: Subverting Authority or Reinforcing Convention? Garth Ennis’s Graphic Novels
Subverting Authority or Reinforcing Convention? Garth Ennis’s Graphic Novels
‘Welcome to the Gutter’
This provocative statement marks the beginning of the introduction to one of the most recent collection of essays on graphic novels and comics, edited by Joyce Goggin and Dan Hassler-Forest. They go on to explain that they are simultaneously referring to ‘the cultural ghetto’ to which comics are usually relegated and to the technical term which denotes the space or border in between panels and which determines the construction of meaning (Goggin & Hassler-Forest 1). The graphic novel has long been the poor relation in the international arena of literary-artistic production, although not so much in terms of its popularity as in responses to it from within academia. The tide is, however, turning as the last couple of decades have seen the publication of major critical and theoretical investigations of this genre.1 It would be an understatement to point out that the graphic novel is the poor relation in contemporary Irish literature. In a literary landscape which is dominated by Nobel Prize winners, a considerable output in poetry and giants such as Yeats, Joyce and Beckett, it is not hard to see why the (admittedly) few graphic novelists who have emerged in Ireland have been overlooked by scholars and relegated to the ‘gutter’ of academic interest.
For Jacques Rancière (and many other contemporary theorists), there is of course no distinction to be made between high and...
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