Alone - Commentary

As a kid up I read Archie and Betty & Veronica comics on the floor in my bathroom, as a teenager I sat in the bookstore for hours reading Japanese comic books called manga,and as an adult I have moved onto reading comic books such as Papergirls and The Amazing Spider-Man, as well as graphic novels like Solanin and My Friend Dahmer. I’ve always loved to read, and I’ve been fortunate to have parents who both had the means to provide me with plenty of reading material, and who never tried to dictate what I read, whether novels from a bookstore or comics from the grocery check-out line.

As somebody who is not only a bit of a bookworm, but also creative, comic books marry two of my favorite things: words and art. The combination of these two elements provide a unique platform for nuanced and complicated storytelling. I view the comic book industry as the wild west of literature: it has no rules, and no boundaries, but it is also a community fiercely loyal, and interlinking.

Creating my own little comic allowed me to step into—even if it was only for a brief moment—that wild, liberating world. In my comic Alone, I reflect upon my journey of becoming more comfortable with being alone. Although the topic is about solitude, I’ve purposely included others in order to reflect the overall message of the piece: alone doesn’t always mean lonely. The first few frames of the comic illustrate this idea by beginning on a close-up of the main character, then slowly panning out to reveal a crowded cafeteria. Throughout the story my character is never really alone, whether she’s with a crowd, another character, or the reader, because throughout the story, the main character is speaking directly to the reader.

Breaking the fourth wall in this way is somewhat unique to the comic book medium in that it isn’t as jarring as it is would be in film or writing. Because comics combine visuals and words in a way no other medium does, the "rules" and expectations for a narrative are more freeform. I’ve grown up and into comic books, and just like Harry Potter and Jane Eyre, so too have comic books shaped me.

About the Author

Amanda Vanderzee

Amanda Vanderzee is a recent Goshen College graduate and received her B.A. in Interdisciplinary studies with focuses in English, Women and Gender Studies, and International Studies. Amanda plans to leave this August to teach English for a year in Namyangju, South Korea. Amanda’s future goals oscillate constantly between dreaming of owning and running her own summer camp for girls, becoming a diplomat, and wanting to publish her own line of children’s books.