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The Handmaid's Tale (Graphic Novel): the graphic novel (Gilead, 1)

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Nault, Renée. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The Graphic Novel. New York: Random House, 2019. To most, The Handmaid’s Tale is at least a little familiar now: the story of a not-too-distant future where women in what was once the United States are divided into classes, fertile women used as walking wombs. Between the original novel and the television series, more people than ever have at least a passing knowledge of the plot, and there won’t be too many surprises in this adaptation. End of Neoliberalism: Project Syndicate”. n.d. https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/end-neoliberalism-project-syndicate. In its English-language usage in arts and literature since the mid-twentieth century, “speculative fiction” as a genre term is often attributed to Robert A. Heinlein. He first used the term in an editorial in The Saturday Evening Post, February 8, 1947. Wikipedia. Slattery, Mary F. “What is Literary Realism?” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 13:1, 1972, pp. 55–62.

Groensteen, Thierry. The System of Comics. Trans. Bart Beaty and Anne Miller. University Press of Mississippi, 2007. See: https://www.themarysue.com/exclusive-the-handmaids-tale-graphic-novel/. Lisa Jadwin has published a very detailed article on the context in which the novel was published the first time around which might have contributed to its success. See also Jadwin, 2009, passim. According to Charles Forceville in his work on “ballonics”, jagged balloon contours that are angular and asymmetrical “have more negative connotations than roundness and symmetry. Sharp, angular things are dangerous and potentially harmful, unlike rounded, smooth things. […] The idea that asymmetry in balloon-contour connotes ‘bad’ things may therefore be rooted in embodied cognition” (Forceville

Mikkonen, Kai. n.d. “Remediation and the Sense of Time in Graphic Narratives”. The Rise and Reason of Comics and Graphic Literature: Critical Essays on the Form. Ed. Goggin, Joyce and Dan Hassler-Forest. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, pp. 74–87. About Us Advertise Online Why Did I Get This Ad? About Our Ads Community Guidelines Press Room Other Hearst Subscriptions American policy on abortion also threatens to impact on women in many other countries because “in 2017 President Trump reinstated and expanded a policy called the ‘global gag rule’ [… which] states that any overseas organization receiv[ing] US global health funding cannot even mention abortion as part of their counselling or education programs—even if the money for these particular programs does not come from the US”. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/06/abortion-laws-in-the-us-10-things-you-need-to-know/. Adams, Jeff. Documentary Graphic Novels and Social Realism. Oxford, Bern, Berlin: Peter Lang, 2008.

Jadwin, Lisa. “Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985): Cultural and Historical Context”. Critical Insights, 2008, pp. 21–41. Allardice, Lisa. “Interview with Margaret Atwood”. The Guardian. 20.20.2018. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/20/margaret-atwood-i-am-not-a-prophet-science-fiction-is-about-now.Bradley, Laura. Handmaid’s Tale: The Strange History of “Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum”. Vanity Fair, May, 2017: https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/05/handmaids-tale-nolite-te-bastardes-carborundorum-origin-margaret-atwood.

It's this ability to accommodate both the mundane and the fantastic that suits the graphic form to the The Handmaid's Tale's demands, as "comics and graphic novels can switch seamlessly between abstract and literal imagery," Nault says. She describes a scene late in the story to demonstrate, when Offred, the narrator, "thinks of bodies she's seen hanging on the wall. The shapes of withered seed pods in Serena Joy's flower bed become the shapes of hanging handmaids." Even so, for her own interpretation of Gilead, Nault didn't need anything beyond the text itself. "My hope was to not just show the story with pictures, but to capture the spirit of the novel," she says. "The book is of course horrific, but it's also witty, dry, and sometimes darkly funny." Thus, the comic format complements both the narrator's perspective — which reflects jumps in time, memory, and thought — and the story's frequent overlapping of reality and fantasy.Forceville, Charles, et al. n.d. “Balloonics: The Visuals of Balloons in Comics”. In The Rise and Reason of Comics and Graphic Literature: Critical Essays on the Form, ed. Goggin, Joyce and Dan Hassler-Forest. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, pp. 56–74. Handmaid’s Tale Video Game Revealed as June Staring Simulator”. n.d. http://syn.org.au/handmaids-tale-video-game-revealed-june-staring-simulator-p1ng/. How do we navigate the world around us? Where do we start if we want to learn something new? Here is a reading list of non-fiction books exploring ideas that matter, including books by Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, Ai Weiwei, Chelsea Manning and more.

Besana, Bruno. “Alain Badiou: The Problem of Subtractive Universalism”. The Scandal of Self-contradiction: Pasolini’s Multistable Subjectivities, Geographies, Traditions. Ed. Luca di Blasi. Vienna and Berlin: Verlag Turia + Kant, 2012, pp. 209–237. Mancuso, Cecilia. “Speculative or Science Fiction: As Margaret Atwood shows, there isn’t much difference.” The Guardian. 10.08.2016. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/10/speculative-or-science-fiction-as-margaret-atwood-shows-there-isnt-much-distinction.In this case, the reader is cued to understand the “bad thing” as the terrifying news blaring out of the television.

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