Graphic Novel

When you ask someone if they have heard of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, most would reply to you that yes they have heard of the film. What few people realize is that it was a graphic novel before it was a movie. The novel is far better than the movie could ever be. Grotesque images, dark colors and rough sketched drawings allow for the authors’ imaginative story to thrive. Set in the late 19th century, a band of “extraordinary gentleman” is formed with promises of saving England from those who wish to destroy it. The group does not in any way seem as though they should be together, each has different views and different morals, but for some reason they stay together. Each character seems to have their demons that they are trying to quarrel, and are drawn to this adventure in hopes of finding meaning and hopefully subdue those demons.

                The book is full of imagery, and in many ways it is the reason why a graphic novel is the most appropriate form of telling the story. For example, the first pages set the mood for the entire book, what other novels do you know of that allow that to happen? On the second page, there is a panoramic view of Dover, England in 1898. It shows a great causeway towering above a sea of smog with dull and rusted steam driven cranes rising from the depths. The nearly-completed causeway is engraved with “INDUSTRY” and below it is a sign reading how due to mechanical problems, they will continue with construction in 1902. The only signs of life are the soaring seagulls, feeding off of the tainted fish that come from the murk below. This is an incredibly moving image because already the reader is given an image of England at the turn of the century. Industry seems to be the most prominent thing in this image, and it is shown as having a deadly affect on the city. It has created smog that only the tallest cranes can escape. Smog so thick that boats can sail upon it. While a beautiful structure built in dedication of England’s economic strength, it stands unfinished and deserted. There is a mood of chaos and uncertainty, one of incompetence and turmoil. It leads the reader to wonder what lies beneath to putrid green cloak, and a sense that no matter what is down there, it is in no way good. This is the England that the reader is presented, and there is no way that this could have been expressed without the use of images and drawings.

                The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen does not seem to represent reality per say, but rather a dramatic rendition of what is reality. While no England was not a sea of smog in the turn of the century, it was a much polluted place; the graphic novel just allowed that to be expressed in a very forceful manner. The graphic novel allows readers to be shown something that they would otherwise not see through writing. Some of the images in the novel could never have been put into words; it would not have been as powerful.

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top 5 movies

                I have seen a lot of movies. I have even watched movies when I should have been doing other things, like studying. Of all of the movies I have seen, the top five that I have seen would have to be: Boondock Saints, Band of Brothers, SiCKO, Hero and Planet Earth. While two of these, Band of Brothers and Planet Earth, are actually miniseries, I still feel as though they are very impressive pieces of film making.  Why don’t we start from the beginning, with one of my all time favorite movies, Boondock Saints. I know now it is a huge cult flick and everyone knows about it but there was a time, 5 years ago to be precise, that no one even knew of its existence. This was the first time I saw it. It was the end of 7th grade, and my cousin came up to my cabin with this movie that he said was the best action movie he ever saw. We proceeded to watch it, and I was instantly turned into a fan. What makes the movie so good is the plot itself. It deals with the whole issue of what is morally right and if killing is justified if it is the killing of truly bad men. It is a movie that sparks a whole new idea on vigilantism. It is a very entertaining movie that definitely has your mind set on the oxymoron, “killing for good.” Band of Brothers was a 10 part miniseries that HBO put out about 4 years ago. It is a series of narratives by different soldiers of a company as they fight through World War 2. This is one of my all time favorite war for several reasons. For starters, total it runs more than 10 hours. You as the audience aren’t given one 2 and a half hour battle, your given the whole war, through the eyes of the men who fought it. The other reason that I enjoy it so much was because this is a true story. This miniseries is based off of the book by Stephen A. Ambrose in which for years he spent countless hours interviewing these men of this company about the horrors they went through and how they felt about the war, about Europe, and about each other. Finally, the last reason why I love this story so much is because it focuses on the people a lot more than on the action. There may be 4 hours of battle scenes, but there are 6 hours of scenes in which the men are playing cards, they are eating, they are dancing, and the viewer is really able to see these men for who they really were, just 19 year old boys, not big tough army men. SiCKO is not one of my most favorite movies but it is definitely one that has affected me the most. I went into the movie not knowing at all what it was about, and came out with this really strong feeling of what should be revised in health care and how America should deal with its citizens. It made my top list because Michael Moore can single handedly gets the entire general public to take a stand and rise up for what they believe in. Just months after SiCKO came out Hillary Clinton restarted her effort towards universal health care in the United States. My last two top films are on here because of their use of images and other visual aids in order to send a message to the viewer. Hero is the story of a warrior in pre-unified China who is telling his story to the current king. The entire plot of the movie is basically the king interrogating him about what happened and he changing his story every time he is accused. What is truly spectacular about this movie is that with every different version of the story, the color tone is altered. In one version of the story there seems to be a lot of the color red present and in another version is seems to be blue. This gives the movie a very beautiful touch, one that shows how color can convey emotion and mood in a story. Planet Earth is a miniseries aired by the discovery channel and it is unlike any nature film you have ever seen. This is on my top list because the makers of it travelled for years around the globe, filming some of the rarest and most spectacular animals on our planet, showing us all how beautiful our planet is and how we have to make sure that we take the steps needed to make sure that this beauty is maintained.

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My Place

The air is different. It is distinct. It’s hot and wet, with a subtle salty musk. Waves crashing on the rocks below create a loud but deeply soothing sound. Clouds overhang in the sky, harmless, puffy. The sun is slowly setting right in front of me. Little by little, the sky grows more orange, and the world seems to wind down. The tropical breeze from the trade winds seems to grab a hold of me as I stand on the porch. It surrounds me, comforts me. My hair dances around on the top of my head like the wind is running its fingers through it. I have the taste of saltwater in my mouth, and my eyes tingles with too much exposure. The sun beats its last rays of the day upon me, enough to warm someone coming out of the pool, but not too much that will cause you to burn. The Caribbean water on my body starts to dry, and in its wake it leaves trace amounts of salt.  I proceed to walk down the wooden steps to the beach. They make a deep hollow thud as I go, and I can feel every grain of wood against my bare feet. Geckos scurry by, dodging me as if I was Godzilla. With every step, the noise of the beach grows louder; the noise of family on the porch grows weaker. I start to lose myself in the beauty of this place, in how absolutely incredible it is to be in Minneapolis, Minnesota and then 5 hours later be in the USVI’s, in paradise. I keep on thinking; keep meditating until I feel the sharp pinch of the rocky beach upon my foot. The top of the beach is filled with bits of dead coral, turned into calcium stone with the passing of time. Tiptoeing, avoiding the big ones, I carefully make my way to the water. The sand gets a little gentler, a little less rough, until I stand with my feet pressed into a picture perfect powder beach. I slow down my steps, let myself relax. There is no need to be rushed here. I slowly approach the outstretched waves. With every crash and break they come up trying to grab a hold of me. I come a little closer, and one does. Warm water surrounds my ankles and sinks me down into the sand. I stand there for a moment when another one comes in, doing the same thing, persuading me to come on in. with every step, I allow the sea to creep up my body, to completely devour me, as long as I am allowed to hold my head above. The water is magnificent. I gracefully swim myself out a little, treading water for a short time and then slowly come back in. Just an easy swim like this can wash away all the worries, all the stress, all of the things that wait for you back home. This is my place; this is St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

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HOMELESS Vs. homeless

Both “Postcards from the Edge” and “Streetwise” reveal a crimson look into what it is like for young boys and girls to live on the street. Both use images to emphasize their points, and both are disturbing to see. While “Streetwise” is a documentary about homeless teenagers in Seattle, “Postcards from the Edge” is an essay written about homeless wanderers all across the country. Because of this, there are some key differences between the two. In “Streetwise,” a man with a camera follows these kids around, filming what they do, how they act, and so forth. The documentary seems to be focused on the kids individually rather than the whole social class that they represent. In “Postcards from the Edge,” however, the author is making points about the social class and using individuals’ quotes and stories as a way to prove their point.

                Another way that the two seem to differ is the fact that in “Streetwise,” you see how these kids live. In “Postcards,” you were just given a glimpse of the person whether that is a photo or a quote. In “Streetwise,” your following these kids, they’re taking you around to where they get food, how they scrounge up some money, and even how they go home and see their parents. Now that is something that is completely different between the two. In “Postcards,” the reader interprets that these kids were casted out by their parents or just run away from it all. In “Streetwise” you are shown that some of these kids are brought home with their parents, that they live at home sometimes and are even still given their weekly allowances. You get a completely different feeling for these kids and their situation from seeing this. Instead of thinking about how these poor kids need to find somewhere to stay and get a fresh start, you now think, why are they doing this? Why are they throwing their lives away when they have a bed back home? Then you start thinking about how someone gets to be doing this, so the whole attitude of homeless teens changes by just seeing this alone. This is manly how these two works differ, while one gives you a feeling of pity and remorse, the other just gives you a feeling of uncertainty about how this could happen.

                I don’t think that one piece is more effectively portraying homeless teens than the other; I just think that the viewpoints are different. “Postcards” seems to have the view of people from another social class looking down upon these homeless kids, and “Streetwise” seems to have the view of these homeless kids looking at each other. I think that both works were just trying to show the social class in the way that they could, and I believe that both were effective.

                I think that the “Streetwise” photo essay gave a much different perspective than the documentary did. It just shows you the power of photographs. In all of the photos, the kids look tired, dirty, depressed, with a look of yearning a way to get out of their situation. In the documentary, however, you see these kids joking around with one another, smiling, playing. Every perception of a situation can be altered based on the vantage point that you see it in.

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The Empire of Images in Our World of Bodies

This article by Susan Bordo really seemed to get a good grasp on self image. Everyone is insecure about some feature they posses, there’s no doubt about it. Bordo went to the source; she looked beyond just our personalities to what influences our personalities. Why do we have to look just like a supermodel? Bordo did a fantastic job showing how marketing, advertisements, and social icons affect the way that we view ourselves. She’s right, too. Now that you look at it, society applauds people that have good looks. Vogue never puts a middle class, 35 year old single mother on their covers; it’s always someone that is really young, or someone that has pulled off the miracle, looking young while being old. While people that maintain good looks get all the attention, the majority of people are just left to watch them stroll by, and that’s what drives people to do whatever necessary in order to become that person. Girls change diets, change attitudes, clothes, friends, all just to be looked at as attractive. It’s a very sad state that we live in. People should be looked upon as attractive for their actions, not their looks. Girls who are honest and loyal to the ideas and people they love are the beauties of this nation, not the girls who walk all over everyone in their 3 inch heels.

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Memory

                I like to believe that I have had a pretty privileged life, I am fortunate enough to experience things in my first 18 years that a lot of people will never be able to experience. I have had some amazing memories that go along with these, but probably the best memory of mine is how I came to do what I do today, fly. I have always had a real love of aviation, even as an infant my dad and his friends would take me to air shows and point out everything there is to know about an airplane. I had always been fascinated and curious about airplanes, but I never really had the notion about becoming a pilot, that is, until one hot summer day in the Arizona Desert…

                I remember I was 8 years old. We were in Arizona, it was hot, Temps hovering around 105. When we awoke from our Holiday Inn beds, we ate a quick breakfast then ventured out into the dessert on the outskirts of Tucson. My mom, my dad and I, had come down from Minnesota to visit a very close family friend, Newman. I had to buy sunglasses when we were there because during the first three days I had to squint non-stop just so I wouldn’t be blinded by the fierce sun reflecting off of the parched ground. After driving through desolate neighborhoods and experiencing more homeless people than I have in my life, we were finally getting close to Newman’s house. You can always tell when you’re getting close because you start to hear the roar of 40 year old Lycoming engines, and soon you start to see signs telling drivers and passer-byers to watch out for low flying aircraft.

                Newman lives on an airfield. His dad was a pilot during World War 2 and was the executive pilot for Northwest Airlines so low and behold, Newman also started flying and became the executive pilot for Northwest. Keep in mind that this was during the 60’s, when airline pilots were considered celebrities. Over the years, Newman acquired a great deal of wealth from his position, so at age 50, Newman (Dan is his first name), retired from his job and moved into his beautiful house in the Arizona desert.

                Newman and his wife Jane don’t need to worry about putting up a fence, because getting to their driveway is a whole quest for the Holy Grail in itself. In order to get to their driveway, you have to drive your car out onto the Tarmac, cross a runway, and zip along the side of a taxiway dodging airplanes along the way. For an 8-year-old child this is one of the most exhilarating drives you can take, for a 40-year-old mother it is one of the most terrifying. Needless to say we arrived to the house perfectly fine.

                One thing that is particularly striking about Newman is that he has a whole collection of airplanes, most of who are from the 30’s and a handful have open cockpits. It was no sooner that we arrived than Newman was whisking us off into his hanger, showing us his pride and joy, and cramming us in. It started off being a showing of the interior to a presentation of the motor starting up to the next thing I know, my face is glued to the window as the ground slips away beneath the landing gear. Newman flies the 4 of us around for a bit, giving us an aerial tour of downtown Tucson. He then brings us to his favorite fly-in restaurant, and we each eat hundred dollar hamburgers. As soon as my parents have had enough we head back to the house, land, and start shutting down. While this was a fun trip for my parents and now they want to go sit on the porch and have a beer, I, the 8-year-old kid, am jumping around wanting to fly until the plane runs out of fuel. Newman volunteers to take me up again and the two of us takeoff in his Piper Cub, a small 2 seat airplane that many bush pilots use in Alaska.

                As soon as we level off and get to a steady altitude Newman asks me, “so do you want to try?” My jaw hits the floor. It takes me a few seconds to figure out what he just said. I could barely see over the instrument panel, and had no idea what half of the instruments meant. Still, as an 8-year-old boy, I nod, and place both hands on the stick with a choke-hold grip. As soon as Newman gave me full control I immediately tensed up. I’m so nervous that I can’t hold steady, so within moments of being the pilot-in-command the wings start rocking and the pitch of the airplane starts to intimidate one of a roller coaster. Thoughts start running through my head, “what if I flip us over?” “What if the engine goes out?” Pretty soon I become too scared to continue and ask Newman if he could take over. Instantaneously the plane becomes steady as a rock, and Newman brings us back into level flight. He asks me, “wanna do it again?” My pulse once again rises, thoughts start coming back to my mind, but just then I take my eyes off of the instruments and look out towards the endless blue sky and reply, “yes.”

                I’ve had my Pilot’s License for about 2 years now, and have had my glider license for about 3. I currently have over 100 hours of being the pilot of command, and fly here at Purdue at least once a week. Right after I got my License I took Newman out in the exact plane that he let me fly for the first time, and this time, he never even touched the controls. Newman is still a very close friend to the family, and is currently restoring an airplane that once belonged to Charles Lindberg.

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A lil’ bit about me

Hey, my name is Peter Schumann. I’m a freshman here at Purdue, and am studying Aeronautical Engineering. Just to let you know a little bit about who I am, I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was a pitcher on my highschool’s baseball team. I play piano, and struggle to play guitar. I like going to lots of concerts and events, and I love eating at nice restaurants. I have a cat at home named Charlie, and am an only child. My dad and I are avid sailers, and last summer we went on a month long sailing trip to the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. I decided to major in Aeronautical Engineering because of my love for airplanes. I flew a family friend’s airplane when I was 8 years old, and since then I have been completely hooked. I got my pilot’s lisence about two years ago, and I am a member of the Purdue Flying Club. If anyone is an aspiring pilot or simply just wants to go sightseeing, please let me know, I am always looking for an excuse to get in the air.

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