In our last class we began talking about the history of comics. I found the diverse examples of possible origins of comics very interesting, and particularly, I was intrigued by William Hogarth’s, A Harlot’s Progress. It occurred to me that comics have an immense capacity to go far beyond the realm of “funny” or just simple entertainment. Comics have the ability to evoke feelings of nostalgia, cheerfulness and humour, but they also have the potential to elicit feelings of disagreement, anger, and even hatred toward the artist who drew the comic.
Comics have long been used to express opinions or perspectives on particular topics. Hogarth’s A Harlot’s Progress addresses topics such as witchcraft and the Moll’s fate through symbols while depicting a dark and cynical vision of 18th century London.
Fast-forward to the late 1800s where Impressionism is on the rise, and people are criticizing the art of Renoir, Manet, and Monet through the medium of comics. Seeing comics as a way to get your point across very clearly and even with a jab of humour is still prevalent today.
In class we talked about how powerful the art of cartooning is, with the example of Rudolphe Töpffer’s The Nose Defines the Man. I was fascinated by the idea that something as seemingly insignificant as a character’s nose shape can sway the reader’s opinion on that character. You can cut straight to the core of a character and depict them as upper class, lower class, smart, stupid, cruel, kind, or selfish with the use of something as surface-level as eyes, nose, or jaw shape.
So, with the knowledge that cartooning is a podium where one can use devices (such as nose shape and symbols) to convey their worldview or opinion, the artist has a tremendous amount of power to make statements. These concepts are what make political cartoons so effective. The artist has something to say, and knows how to manipulate the image, so it helps to reinforce their statement.
– Mackenzie Strang