Passage of Time in "Fun Home"

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              Scott McCloud's book "Understanding Comics" discusses in Chapter 4,"Time Frames" how the passage of time and outlining time in chronological order  must be carried out in comics in order to establish the focus of the audience and keep the reader from losing focus on the main point of not only the single frame, but the entire chapter or story. In Alison Bechdel's tragicomic "Fun Home," her use of timing as established by these constraints is not as well established, and at times it becomes difficult to follow along with her point, as she jumps from different time periods and messages with different frames.

                Although Bechdel establishes her main focuses as the chapters continue, there are times where she moves her focus from one thing to another, often to illustrate something that happened in the past or future. McCloud says in "Understanding Comics," "The panel acts as a sort of general indicator that time or space is being divided." Also, he says that, "Images can set the mood or a sense of place for whole scenes through their lingering timeless presence." Basically, he is claiming that the images in respective panels are our most important and primary guide through the plots of comics, since they are often not arranged in the same way as just plain text. We as readers are forced to use the images in panels to interpret what is occurring and match with the text included with the panel, in order to determine the chronological order in time of what we are reading so that it makes sense to us. "Fun Home" can at times vary from that pattern by jumping back and forth from different panels through time, making it more difficult to interpret.

                Often to illustrate a point about her family life in the past, Bechdel used her illustrations to jump back through time to show us how her father may have acted or how things were in her childhood. This made it difficult to follow along with her point in each panel, and to try to understand her main focus. Also, the chapters in "Fun Home" generally did not follow any chronological order, and therefore it was difficult to find where she would be going with much of her transition from frame to frame, as well as chapter to chapter. For example, in the second chapter of "Fun Home," Bechdel is trying to establish how she felt at her father's funeral and at the immediate time after his death, but her illustrations are too randomly arranged and not well noted to properly understand what is happening and what the main focus of the page or even the entire chapter is. McCloud devotes an entire chapter to explaining the importance of maintaining the coherent time frame, and it seems to make sense as to how a reader would be able to interpret it. Bechdel's "Fun Home" occasionally strayed from these guidelines, which explains why it became difficult to follow along with at some points in the story.



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