Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Arrival Rewrite

Revisiting The Arrival by Shaun Tan, it is even more apparent how incredibly unique this comic is. Almost every panel could be it's own work of art and the fact that this novel is filled with hundreds of fully rendered drawings is just astounding. The rich details of the art bring you into this bizarre new world along with protagonist. The pacing of the novel is also much more even than in other comics. Most pages just have rows of the same neat identical squares placed side by side. It gives the story a sense of routine. A feeling that the events happening are just part of daily life in this new land. While the father in this story is overwhelmed by how vastly different this new place is, he eventually is able to find his own place in society. he becomes a part of the everyday. The panels in the The Arrival are either the repetitive small squares or very large full page images. These are almost always used to establish the setting on an grand scale.

Something else that I noticed was the bookending pages in the novel that list off the things found in the man's room. On the first page the items are all easily recognizable and common. We understand objects like origami birds and cups of coffee because they are objects from our world. They are within our frame of reference. In this story we are the father and we are experiencing this journey through his eyes.  Near the end of the novel there is a page that harkens back to this list of objects in the room. On this page are the objects the man has assimilated into his daily routine now that he lives in this new world. The paper bird is now a paper dog creature that resembles the monster that became his first friend upon arrival. He now has a bowl of tentacles to eat and his cup of coffee has an uncurled handle. There are two constants between these images and those are a the man's hat and coat and a picture of his family all together. This shows that no matter where we are in the world, the importance of family never dies. Family will keep you grounded and give you something to live for regardless of where you live. The picture of the coat and the hat is an example of how we mix and match our cultural influences. Even though this man lives in a new country he still maintains the sense of style that he is accustomed to. His clothing finds a place even though it is surrounded by foreign objects. This is the result of the melting pot that allows new traditions and customs to grow in a society.

The Arrival is a story of hard work paying off. It gives you a sense of hope and peace in the end with the family able to survive in their new home. By the end of the book they are part of society, so much so that they are able to take on the responsibility of helping new immigrants find their way.

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