Volume 23, Number 02, Winter 2005

Sketching Liberty: The Graphic Novel

In 1991 a graphic novel nearly claimed the Prometheus Award. V for Vendetta, written by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, portrays a grim and totalitarian world, opposed by one person—the masked man known as V. The artwork in V for Vendetta is stark and visceral. While there are few explicitly libertarian graphic novels or comic books, this book and others contain ideas of liberty worth exploring.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller, shows a darker side of the caped crusader. A grim decline in morality grips the world. Compassionate psychologists replace crime fighters in dealing with criminals, and Superman is an agent of the state. Against this world stands an aging, bitter Batman. Aided by a new, and female, Robin, the battle against evil becomes a crusade.

Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, is of interest in the depictions of the rise and fall of superheroes, and the lure of absolute power. The theme now is somewhat worn twenty years later, but in its time Watchmen was highly original. No doubt there are other book also worthy of mention.

The graphic novel is a work of dual effort. In fiction where only words appear, the reader creates images in his mind from the text. In movies these images are created for the viewer. In the graphic novel the writer must decide upon the greatest effect: the art, the text, or both. The graphic novel has potential as a source of entertainment blended with ideas on liberty. Imagine the power of Ayn Rand’s Anthem as a graphic novel, or the future emergence of original works of liberty in the comic form.

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