There are many ways to tell a story and I have been mesmerized by every form I’ve come across. I get lost in novels, caught up in radio plays, sit transfixed before storytellers, am moved by plays, binge-watch television series, and happy at the movies.
As near as I can tell, there are no bad ways to tell stories. There are weak stories and poorly constructed ones, but the problem is not with any given method, simply with the inspiration or execution. Not every story works.
One of my favorite methods in recent years is the graphic novel (and its cousin, the graphic memoir). Putting pictures together with words allows the artist/writer to do things with both forms that deepen the story.
I recently discovered Indigo Animal, by my fellow Oaklandite Rue Harrison, and was transfixed from the first page, on which Indigo Animal stands on the porch and “wonders, ‘What’s my purpose in life?’”
One does not have to be large and indigo to have wondered such a thing. Over the course of the book, Indigo Animal finds purpose first in the personal contemplation of classical lawn statuary, then in studies related to that, and finally in taking action.
And while I must confess that I am more drawn to metal art and other forms that Indigo Animal might find wanting, I love reading about this creature’s passion for classical form.
It is hard to write about a graphic novel without showing the pictures, but there should be enough pictures on the website to give you some idea of what Indigo Animal is like and what the story is about.
But I can share a few favorite words. When Indigo Animal is pondering which blanket to wear on the first day of school at the Lawn Statuary Research Institute, we get some of the following responses to the choices – all of which should be familiar to anyone who has tried to put together the right outfit for a special day:
“In this blanket I have gone where no other Indigo Animal has gone before – and with good reason.”
“This gauzy silk blanket is too formal for school.”
“What was I thinking when I bought this faux fur blanket?”
Later, while in the classroom of Dame Eleanor Marmot, after Indigo Animal has questioned her assertion that a krater was a birdbath, and she has replied with another point of view, the caption reads:
Oh joy! Indigo has never before experienced a scholarly exchange with a fellow lawn statuary researcher.
This book is filled with many other wonderful sentences and equally remarkable paintings. And despite the fact that Harrison says in her video about the project that she didn’t follow any particular structure in putting it together, it is, in fact, a complete and wonderful story, told in both pictures and words.
You can buy it here.