Dedica Festiva, Episode Two


Città di Vetro

22nd March, 2009, 11 a.m.

Inaugurazione della mostra di fumetti di Paul Karasik e David Mazzucchelli dall’omonimo romanzo di Paul Auster.  



If you are interested in graphic novels, don’t miss this exhibition.  I loved it.  If you want to have a look at the graphic novel “City of Glass” (from New York Triology), I can lend it to you.  

I found out that now there is a graphic adaptation of Timbuktu as well.  I don’t have it, but I looked at it on the website (  


Look at the exhibit and listen to Paul Karasik’s comments.  It’s a good chance for you to listen to a different American accent (different from Paul Auster’s, I mean).


“The evolving term graphic novel is not strictly defined, and is sometimes used, controversially, to imply subjective distinctions in artistic quality between graphic novels and other kinds of comics. It suggests a story that has a beginning, middle and end, as opposed to an ongoing series with continuing characters; one that is outside the genres commonly associated with comic books, and that deals with more mature themes. It is sometimes applied to works that fit this description even though they are serialized in traditional comic book format. The term is commonly used to disassociate works from the juvenile or humorous connotations of the terms comics and comic book, implying that the work is more serious, mature, or literary than traditional comics.” (taken from


Some cartoonist are against the term “graphic novel”.  I am no expert in this field.  I can just invite you to visit (either physically or virtually) the exhibit.  It is really worthwhile.  City of Glass combines the language of literature with the language of cartoons, and this is no easy job at all.  The world of cartoons is generally detached from reality.  With City of Glass, the identity of the cartoon is somehow subverted, because you (as a reader) are pushed towards a perception of a reality that is not a common trait of cartoons.  If you think about it, the same happens in the film “Sin City”: the sphere of cartoons intersects with the one of reality.  So Paul Auster’s graphic novel somehow dragged the world of comics back into a symbolic dimension.  

The story of coming up with the graphic novel is another story by Paul Auster: it took more than 20 years for the project to take off.  Paul Auster was not originally interested in a story that could be visualized on a page.  He was then persuaded to accept a graphic adaptation of his story, but he placed a veto: “Don’t add any words that were not in the novel.  You can take out, but not add”.  His wishes were respected.  I loved reading both City of Glass and its graphic adaptation.  I do not know which one I prefer more.  I don’t want to choose! 

Have you ever read a graphic novel?  If so, did you like it?  Why?  What is appealing in the blending of literature and cartoons?

Is there a novel you think would suit the graphic novel genre? Why?

city of glass1

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11 Responses to Dedica Festiva, Episode Two

  1. anonimo says:

    Guarino Ilaria

    I didn t like comics. It is a genre that does not involve me and does not catch my attention as a reader but, to be honest i don t know exactly the why! So i have never read a graphic novel like Micky Mouse, Diabolik, Texas…none of this. However I believe that the creation of a comic is made only after careful study and analysis of the dynamics of the book and of the situations described in it. So it is a work of elaboration that makes the story rebirth in onother form of art.

    The appealing in the blending of literature and cartoons is probabely in seeing how a written story could became a drawened story,which aspect of the story have been highlighted and which omitted, how that charachter were “designed”.

    From the books i have read i think that Mr.Vertigo is a very good story to transpose into comics because the situation described into the book lends itself to a graphic rappresentation. The charachter of the”flying child”, the travels undertaken by him and by his master offer, in my opinion, greate material for a possible comic.

  2. anonimo says:

    Well I didn’t read any graphic novel so far, but I am now reading the adaptation from City of Glass. I find the drawings very well-made and the story closely similar to what I imagined while I was reading the book. In fact I found city of glass an interesting book since every time I was reading it I started shooting my own film in my mind. I think it is a good book to be adapted to a film as well. In the blending of literature and cartoon the appealing element is probably the mixture of both appealing elements. In literature we have a more personal, subjective and emotional sphere, in cartoon a purely objective and visual one, the match of the two genres creates the special involving element that we find in this kind of production. I think This is also why a film taken from a book is more involving (for a person who read the book) than a brand new film. The act of reading the book puts in the reader the desire to see it concretely or in a film or in another book.

    Riccardo Bagattin

  3. anonimo says:

    I’ve not read a graphic novel yet, because this aspect of literature has never caught my attention, I’m not even interested in reading comics. I’m not very keen on this kind of books because of this blending of literature and cartoons. When I read a book or a story, I would like to be free of imagining the scene, the setting and the characters of that book, whereas the graphic novel is giving you a sort of fixed model through the drawnings, it means that it gives you a pre-arranged way of imagine the story and the characters, without let the reader his space, in which he can free his imagination. Maybe this is why I’m not attracted by graphic novels or comics; in open contrast with my brother and my father, who are made crazy by this genre! My brother buys a comic, at least, one time a month, my father, instead, anytime he sees a graphic novel, he starts reading immediately, isolating himself from the others.

    So, I’m not the right person, who can say why a graphic novel is a nice genre or what is appealing in it. Maybe my brother can give a nice answer.

    However, I think ”the metamorphosis” by F. Kafka could be a possibile novel that would suit the graphic novel genre, maybe because his story could be nicer if the process of change into an insect was drawning, as a support!

    Carla Cipolla

  4. anonimo says:

    I have never read a graphic novel, this genre does not catch my attention. I must say…I am not a passionate reader but if I had to choose I would prefer another kind of novel rather than a graphic one.

    Anyway I found really interesting the video in which Paul Karasik exposes and describes the exhibit. I liked also the different ideas for the organization of the exhibition as for example the caskets where there were contained some particular objects that recover those of the story or the choice of putting together both the fair and the rough copies of the graphic book.

    The blending of literature and cartroons is a good technique…the same meaning manages to reach the reader both through words and pictures and it is even more marked. Thanks to the illustrations, that give a more trenchant message, the reader is more able to fix the main concepts in his mind.

    I think that “travels in the scriptorium” could be turned into a graphic novel…there are different parts of the story that suit very well a picture for example when Mr Blank sitting on the edge of the bed, stare at the floor and thinks, trying to answer to all the questions that haunts him…there could be good images also to show all the expressions of his face in his monotonous days…this is only my opinion, I am not experienced in this kind of things!

    Marson Chiara

  5. anonimo says:


    The only graphic novel I read is “Topolino”(and sometime, when I have nothing to do, I read it), and except it I am not interest in reading one. I do not like it, it impedes you of mentally imagine the scenes, the personages, the places, the physical expressions of the protagonist. I do not a book that would suit the graphic novel genre.

  6. anonimo says:

    I’ve read “City of Glass” and I’ve read also some parts of its graphic adaptation. It is the first graphic novel I’ve ever read, and I’ve found really amaizing how a story written on paper can rebirth in a cartoon, and how the faces of the protagonists of the story you have imaginated become a drawing. I find this really appealing in the blending between literature and cartoon. I really liked the graphic adaptation of “City of Glass”, especially the pages of Peter Stillmann’s chaotic speech (that sort of “stream of consciuosness”), where I think tha autors of the cartoon render it perfectly, by placing the baloon coming direcly in a strange diffrent way from his mouth, as if the words were coming from his stomach.

    I think that some parts of “travels in the scriptorium” can be suited for a graphic novel.

    Chiara Pinardi

  7. anonimo says:

    I have never read a graphic novel. When I was young I used to read a strip cartoon (fumetto) as “topolino” but it is not the same thing I suppose. I have not read “City of Glass” and so I have not read his graphic adaptation, I cannot say if I like or I do not like reading graphic novels but at the same time I am not allured by them. Honestly when I read a novel I am so involved that I try to use my imagination and I represent the scene in my mind. A graphic novel through an image illustrates part of the novel and you “see” the scene as the author of graphic novel sees it. I prefer to imagine a part of a novel through words used by the author, I prefer to see what certain scene or words represent in my mind. Maybe I am wrong or maybe I am right, I do not know. When I will have time, after the school because now I cannot read something just for the pleasure to read, I will read a graphic novel and I will have my personal opinion about it.

    I agree with the veto of Paul Auster about the graphic novel, I think that in a graphic novel even in other things, if you add other words, that in this case are not included in the novel, that can lose his importance and meaning, or even it can become important, in any case the novel will not be the same, it will become a new novel. It is important this thing.

    I have read lots of novels but I really do not know which of them could suit the graphic novel genre.

    Santarossa Barbara

  8. anonimo says:

    Even if comics are par excellence the reading of childhood, not necessarily they are only a pleasant entertainment for children in their earliest years, but thinking a bit about it we realize how comics are a unique and important form of art.

    There is a fundamental distinction between, so to speak, “common” comics and comics by famous artists, who then become really paintings “that walk and speak”. We must distinguish Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck comics from comics in black and white -like Diabolik and Tex here in Italy-, which emphasize the pencil’s stroke and the drawing, giving prominence to the style of the cartoonist and the atmosphere he is able to create. This is not a criticism of Disney’s cartoons: there were, especially in the past, incredibly talented cartoonists and experts who could, from a simple stories for children’s magazines, build great games of colours and shades that are still read and studied by many apprentices of this art.

    From comics developed, in the early Twenties, a genre that is now banal and industrial, but at that time was something fascinating, magic: the cartoon. It was only a feature film made of comics’ illustrations (sound did not exist) that were edited together, forming a story that moved on the screen by oneself. The simple Mickey Mouse on the boat Steamboat Willie evolved into extraordinary levels of technical and formal perfection, like the early animated feature films. Films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, tales for children that, analysed in depth, reveal to be actually fairy tales for adults, that can appreciate the poetry that derives from the encounter between design and colour, which in turn combine with music and words, creating a carousel of endless visual surprises.

    Comics that from a simple novelty turns soon into an instrument to divulge, bearer of ideologies and messages, translator into pictures of certain literature and culture, both political and popular (Quino’s Mafalda, a critical view of the world’s hypocrisy), as well as an important expression of thoughts, visions and expectations, and also cultural movements and thoughts often not well-known (Frank Miller’s Sin City, a visionary work that well represents the “Dark” movement). Comics that become global phenomenon, bringing in the most remote areas of the world cultures and thoughts also very far from each other, as manga, definitely the manifesto of Japanese people. And comics as a work of art and of an artistic movement; as such it has its own milestones, and also its poets -of the paper-: people like Walt Disney and his friend and masterful cartoonist Carl Barks, or the more recent artists of Computer Graphics: the new pencil, the new pen, word and picture of the author’s ideas.

    You read comics in a short time, and then you throw it away, after a brief reading and laughing. But another type of comics, the Graphic Novel, is a very complex and elaborate matter, a rare gem that you should appreciate deeply while you read. Because it is a short journey in the mind of another person, in an imagination different from yours, in the representation, personal -and so very precious- of a particular story or novel. A work of literature where, for the first time, the characters move, speak and live a life, and we can really see them; our imagination turns off for a moment, completely immersed in the atmosphere and in the affairs of men made by paper and ink. Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli have imagined their own, personal City of Glass and decided to share it with anyone who wants to see how this city could be, observing the inhabitants and understanding their social mechanisms, realizing how life is strange and monotonous during the days, and reflecting on every day’s small things. A dream, a fantasy that takes shape in the balloons. The balloons, that speak a common language but laden with metaphorical and metaphysical significance. A daydream.

    Moreover, what was Disney’s mission?

    Raggiotto Francesco

  9. anonimo says:

    The only Graphic novel I have ever read is “Corte Sconta detta Arcana”.I enjoyed the story because it is representative of a strange running: although being a “criminal” Corto is an example of man who enjoys other cultures, so the society is not made by rigid categories. A graphic novel make possible to the reader to imagine a very similar story to the one created by the author, although there is always relativism, and that’s why I like more books: in a book you are the creator of the story and you can imagine what you want. A book which could be represent with cartoons is “ Il fu Mattia Pascal”:the hide meanings are insightful and can be understood also by a child because of their truth. Also “I nostril antenati” and all the production of Calvino could be represent in terms of graphic novels: they are not just simple narrations ,they explain some aspects of the world that only the modern philosophy and physics achieved to understand.

    Perin Marco

  10. anonimo says:

    The only graphic novel I have ever read is Watchmen by Alan Moore. While I have no other similarly styled novels to compare it to, comparing my experience reading this graphic novel to my experiences reading novels written in prose or comics, I can say that it was something very interesting (while I absolutely love comics, I have to admit that reading the whole story without having to wait the next number it is something special!). The graphic novel represents a format that has come into its own in the last three decades (precisely during the 1980s, when comics began to take on a more literary tone: many publishers moved away from the serial publication of short comic books to focus on more complex book-length titles, and, as a result, comic readership expanded from children to young adults and adults) and that started to get respect from the larger literary world only with the coming of the new century, when educators recognize that the students of the 21th century are constantly visually stimulated by the media and have a strong impatience for sitting down and wading through dense text (and this is the reason why I think they are here to stay).

    If I have to choose a novel that could suit with the graphic novel genre, I think that my choice will surely be on Calvino’s ones. “Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore” (If on a winter’s night a traveler), for example, could be a suitable one: a novel which is near to Auster’s line of thoughts (an open trajectory where even the author himself questions his motives of the writing process) and that deals with the challenge of the labyrinth, characteristic of the metafiction and very congenial to be represented (Auster always reminds me of Calvino: both have accepted the real to be an irreducible multiplicity that cannot be subjected to rational control and both emphasize the need for literature to maintain a critical approach and to try and define the best way of exiting from the labyrinth, even if this means passing from one labyrinth to another). Also “Il barone rampante” (The Baron in the Trees), which tells the adventures of a boy who will spend the rest of his adventurous life up in trees, can be very suitable to be represented in a graphic novel.

    Alessandro Piccin

  11. anonimo says:

    i have never read a graphic novel and sincerly i have always thinked that this kind of books were created just for children but i was wrong.This is happened because I have associated graphic novel to strip cartoon although they are two different things.For example when I was young i used to read Topolino and i cofessed that sometimes,if there is the occasion i read it once more.For this reason is very difficult for me think about a novel were all the protagonists are painted and so you cannot imagine them as you like. In Topolino is different because he is a charachter born with his figure an so when you think about him you have a very precise immage in your mind.


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