Flannery O'Connor: The CartoonsBook | Flannery O’Connor By Phil Guie
A picture of things to come.
Before becoming one of the best-known Southern Gothic writers, Flannery O'Connor was an aspiring cartoonist who crafted dozens of single-panel satires during her days at prep school and Georgia State College for Women. Her early works, collected for the first time in the recently released Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, share the same wry, occasionally absurd sense of humor as her best-known short stories, though they're nowhere near as ominous. Most of the book's contents reflect events that occurred on the GSCW campus during the 1940s, including the appearance of a training facility for the U.S. Navy's first all-woman division, the WAVES. Indeed, some of O'Connor's most rib-tickling cartoons expose the tension between the newcomers and the non-commissioned student body: "Traffic," for example, features a civilian climbing a tree in order to avoid being trampled by a procession of uniformed WAVES. Other targets of the author's pen include student elections and the annual drama competition, the Golden Slipper Contest.
O'Connor's artwork is frequently abstract and raw-looking - the result of carving images very quickly into linoleum blocks, which were subsequently inked and pressed onto paper. Nevertheless, her cartoons are always pleasing to look at thanks to the author's strong sense of composition. Panels are rarely cluttered by unnecessary lines, and O'Connor frequently frames her characters with an eye toward visual balance: For example, a tall person will stand beside a short one, or a blonde beside a dark-haired one. As one of the accompanying essays points out, the practice of wringing humor out of contrasts is a trait that would follow O'Connor into her prose. For now, however, it is merely good cartooning.
blog comments powered by Disqus