Page as Canvas (the Visual/Textual Narrative)

poetry / writing

Over the centuries, literary narrative, as we have understood it, has been built primarily on text.  However one wishes to organize narrative—whether through standard linearity or a willy-nilly approach—words/language have been at the forefront of our storytelling apparatus. Even the most experimental writers have stuck to that tried-and-true formula. The only break (I am aware of) with this well-worn paradigm is the so-called graphic novel (full-length comic book), whose narrative develops through both textual and visual  means.  Some say this is bona fide literature, and perhaps it is. Still, I am unsure that the graphic novel (over time) will engage us on the level of, say, a Joyce or a Proust—but it certainly incorporates all of the necessary elements we associate with Art.

The success of the graphic novel is a recent development we should be inspired by. Its example points us in the direction of a radical narrative of the future.  Textual and visual elements can be combined to produce an art form of untold possibility. The  page is now our canvas, unrestrained by static text.  We can decide to embed graphics of all kinds in a space heretofore reserved for language. The computer is the means to do so.

The only issue I see on the horizon is how to create a viable narrative out of this new genre.  There must be some sort of cohesive whole to a work, even if the intention is to reject conventionality  for a hodgepodge of image and language. Should there be a plot of some sort?  Perhaps. I would think there must be an overarching theme to a work. But since this new genre is concerned with the visual too, should there be anything that ties it together (especially if it is a long work)?  Does an image have a narrative itself, without textual explication? Does a particular painting, for example, have meaning (narrative) in and of itself?  As I develop my ideas, these are questions I hope to answer.