Calypso 0006


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Calypso 0006

This is the first page in Calypso where we see multiple voices and perspectives interacting quite vigorously, I think: I like the back and forth between Bloom’s internal voice (thought balloons), Bloom’s external voice (speech balloons), combined with the comments of the omniscient narrator (text box). Rob tells me that contemporary comics artists have moved away from balloons, so the choice to use them throughout Ulysses “Seen” seems worth talking about.  We get a lot of registers on this page, from Bloom’s babytalk directed at the cat, to his musings on what must be her inner life, to the poetic imagery of the narrator.

Watch out for shifts in tone and word choice that indicate differences between the all-seeing and all-knowing narrator who likes to turn a phrase and Bloom’s own voice (voices?)–maybe check out Mike Barsanti talking about Hugh Kenner’s take on Joyce’s voices here. Over the course of the novel, Bloom and the narrator start to push against each other in complicated ways.

Bloom serves the cat milk (and I love the little, insistent “Mrkgnao!” in the corner of the milk bottle: I think the halo surrounding it must be coming from the cat’s POV. Or maybe I’m just a crazy cat lady).  This echoes his serving of Molly/Calypso, and also reminds us of the milkwoman in Telemachus, another evocative “she.”

Reader’s Guide for IV: Calypso

3 thoughts on “Calypso 0006

  1. It’s true, thought-balloons had gone somewhat out of fashion in the past few decades of American comics. As is often the case, superhero comics are largely to blame for this as thought-ballons are inherently less cinematic and, some people believe, slow the action down. But there’s some echoes of this in the equally-pervasive-but-less-mainstream American fashion of auto-biographical comics in which cinema is still the concern; somehow having a comic look like a film makes the characters more like a star and less like a diarist.

    I owe Janine a blog post on this topic, but I’ve been too busy drawing to take the time for writing. Once it’s done, I’ll link it in here. Promise.

    But my own thoughts on “Calypso” had me examining and experimenting with Romance comics of the ’50’s and ’60’s, so the thought-balloons were a big part of the narrative structure in this episode. My own feeling on this is that Romance comics, for all their posturing, came closer o the kind of balance between time, conversation and wandering thoughts necessary for depicting the novel than just abut any other medium. Fans of that genre will find some very direct references hidden in these early pages (but you’ll have to go deeper than Roy Lichtenstein to get there…).

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