The Alcoholic, Essay Example

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Words: 994

Essay

In “The Alcoholic is a Scabby and Subversive Masterpiece,” Geoff Boucher introduces his essay by noting the death of novelist David Foster Wallace who committed suicide by hanging himself. This event inspired Boucher to “scrutinize (Wallace’s) body of work” which then led him to think about Jonathan Ames’ graphic novel “The Alcoholic” which relates the author’s “besotted life” as an alcoholic completely out of control. Ironically, Wallace was also allegedly an alcoholic. Thus, by comparing Wallace’s tragic life to Ames’ which serves as his thesis statement and as a framework for the remainder of the essay, Boucher sees the main character as “a tortured soul who is bottled up in more ways than one” in a graphic novel that is “brilliantly executed with a boldly scabby story” that is both demoralizing and revelatory and at time, very humorous (2008).

Boucher then summarizes the artwork in the graphic novel and Ames as a “member of the walking wounded of this addiction age” and the bars that he frequented as “battlefields.” Overall, Boucher describes the specifics of Ames’ graphic novel with clarity and a sense of excitement; he also covers the plot of the novel quite well by describing various exploits related to booze, extreme drunkenness, and waking up naked in a trash can after a night of utter debauchery (“The Alcoholic is a Scabby and Subversive Masterpiece,” 2008).

Boucher’s methodology in this essay is a rather common approach, much like a standard movie or book review, meaning that it covers the basic plot and theme of Ames’ graphic novel, describes its characters, situations, and the consequences of the main character’s actions and reactions. Therefore, this method or format is more than adequate and allows the reader to not only understand what the novel contains but also how the author tells his story which Boucher describes as written “with the detached voice of a war correspondent who is so busy taking vivid notes that he doesn’t have the sense to run for his life” (“The Alcoholic is a Scabby and Subversive Masterpiece,” 2008). Also, due to Boucher’s skill at extrapolation, he does not utilize direct quotes from the novel and instead puts everything in his own descriptive voice.

As to criteria for his summarization of “The Alcoholic,” Boucher compares the plot of this novel to several films like “The Lost Weekend” with Ray Milland and Pete Hamill’s highly-successful memoir “The Drinking Life.” Boucher also notes that this novel contains an undercurrent similar to something written by Hunter S. Thompson or Bret Easton Ellis. Boucher’s evaluation of this graphic novel as a masterpiece and its author as a mastermind clearly shows a deep appreciation of the comic book as an artform. Lastly, this essay does not contain a given format, such as MLA, nor a Works Cited page, due to the novel’s categorization as a pop culture phenomenon and meant for a general OGN audience.

In a similar vein, Humphrey Lee’s analysis of “The Alcoholic” begins with a basic introduction related to his personal feelings on graphic novels published by Vertigo–“It’s rare that I find any of these to not be worth the time and money investment”–and then calls some of them “middling.” However, “The Alcoholic” is a sort of stand-out, for it represents “another great installment of this line of OGNs (original graphic novels) that has rarely disappointed me” (“The Alcoholic OGN,” 2008). Thus, much like Boucher, Lee’s introduction serves as a thesis statement and as a framework for the remainder of his discussion on the novel.

Also like Boucher, Lee provides a clear and specific background on “The Alcoholic” by relating the story of Jonathan A., who as a main character or protagonist is “as confused as they come–sexually, commitment wise, and socially,” therefore making him a “walking disaster” as he attempts to deal with his personal demons and severe addiction to alcohol. Lee also points out that this graphic novel is more than worthwhile, due to the author’s decision to be as upfront as possible in relation to presenting his life and inadequacies as a human being caught up in the horrors of alcoholism. Also, much like Boucher, there are no gaps in information in this essay, for Lee covers everything extremely well with the eyes of a dedicated comic book enthusiast. However, unlike Boucher, Lee uses a bit of street language in his descriptions, such as calling some of the events in the story as “fucked up” (“The Alcoholic OGN,” 2008).

As to his format or methodology, Lee basically utilizes the same approach as Boucher; however, Lee also includes some negative comments on “The Alcoholic” that are lacking in Boucher’s essay. For example, he criticizes Ames for including several passages and descriptions that do not contribute to the overall plot of the story like Ames’ inclusion of “a problem with flatulence” via the main character. Also, Lee points out that some of the dialog is more of an “afterthought” and that some the word balloons (i.e., areas that contain dialog) fail to help drive the plot forward (“The Alcoholic OGN,” 2008). Basically, Lee is much more of a critic than Boucher. Lee also avoids the use of quotes and depends to a great degree like Boucher on paraphrasing.

In addition, unlike Boucher, Lee devotes a full paragraph to praising the artwork of Dean Haspiel who renders everything down to “the perfect point of detailed simplicity” (“The Alcoholic OGN,” 2008), perhaps just as it should be with a graphic comic novel. Also, as with Boucher, there are no ethical issues involved in this essay, for Lee evaluates the work of Jonathan Ames as a fine contribution to the world of the graphic comic novel. Lee also avoids using MLA and a Works Cited page, due to seeing “The Alcoholic” as a pop culture representation aimed at a general graphic novel audience.

Works Cited

Boucher, Geoff. “The Alcoholic is a Scabby and Subversive Masterpiece.” LA Times. 2008. Web. Accessed 3 October 2012. http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2008/09/15/the-alcoholic-i

Lee, Humphrey. “The Alcoholic OGN.” 2008. Web. Accessed 3 October 2012. http://www.aintitcool.com/node/38820#3

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