Posts Tagged ‘Asaf Hanuka’

realist227ENThe most recent installment in the Realist comic blog by Asaf Hanuka, the illustrator for the cover and splash pages of Moving Imagesoffers some great lessons in the range of competencies inherent in media literacy and the expressive potential of visual communication.  In a nine-panel, single page comic, Hanuka, an Israeli native, takes on one of the most challenging, complex, and controversial topics from the news of this past summer: the conflict between Israel and Gaza.  Without ever saying so directly.

From its title, “Spoiler Alert” – which uses the meaning of this phrase as a warning from a critic or other commentator regarding a reveal of the content of a media creation – to the references to a graphic novel (later made into a movie) to the precise use of visual information married to text, the reader must engage in media literate interpretation in order to process this work.  Since the artist puts the reclining figure of the narrator in the same position reading the same book in the first three panels, we instantly know that this is the same person seen over a sequence of years, much like in the examples described in Chapter 1 of Moving Images.  Then, the visually literate reader can also move to more subtle and detailed visual information conveyed to us by the artist: in movie terms, the art direction of the backgrounds (from a student’s room to an army scene to an adult’s comfortable bedroom with framed picture), the costume changes, and finally the cinematography of the lighting and lens changes in the second and third trios of images.  In fact, in the final three panels Hanuka creates the graphic novel equivalent of camera movement or a push in with the concluding images of this comic.  They underline and heighten the drama much like a comparative movement in filmmaking.

alan-moore-watchmenAll of these values serve the story and messages of this creation made up of words and pictures, which uses the narrator’s understanding and interpretation of the themes of the groundbreaking graphic novel Watchmen by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons as they shift and mature over his lifetime to express powerfully the moral dilemmas he sees in the world around him.  It is not a ridiculous leap to see it as a discussion of the current conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, particularly when one considers the context of The Realist blog which has dealt with related issues in a number of its preceding entries – while through its lack of specifically referring to these events it also calls to mind similarly thorny dilemmas in history and the contemporary world.  This example features a topic that is challenging for any educator to address because of its highly emotional and incendiary subject matter, but it points to the value of precise use of visual communication and the demonstrative impact of image-based media, whether through the sequential art of graphic novels or sequences of shots that make up moving images.

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Here is an important article by Agence France-Presse (AFP) lifestyle editor Robert MacPherson about questions raised by Common Sense Media founder James P. Steyer concerning the effects of social media on kids.  Jim Steyer’s guide is called Talking Back to Facebook (there is a video to check out on this page).  These questions can be compared, contrasted, and evaluated alongside those of many longstanding debates about the effects of motion picture media, advertising, video and computer games, and other media on kids, grownups, and everybody else.  The topics of this book offer strong discussion points when considering the use of social media in schools and the role of visual media in social and cognitive development.

“Likecoholic” by Asaf Hanuka

For a rather striking illustration to accompany this post’s theme (I also recommend checking out Sponge Brain), check out the weekly online comics blog from Asaf Hanuka, the illustrator for the cover and splash pages of Moving Images.  Hanuka lives in Israel, and The Realisthis weekly comic that explores the emotional, societal, and artistic travails of a nearing-forty artist and father, is exceptional.   Earlier in these pages, when discussing Douglas Rushkoff’s A.D.D.I wrote “Graphic novels continue to be one of the most dynamic media around – one of the nice surprises that as the world goes digital, drawing continues to make a comeback in innovation and inspiration – and the relationship between comics and moving images offers boundless potential for visual storytellers and learning scenarios.”  I think it would be hard to find a more pertinent or striking short-form, online example of this than in Hanuka’s The Realist visual blog.

For those interested in the graphic arts and their myriad intersections with moving images, I encourage you to check out my earlier posts on Saul Bass and Alex Toth.

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