Monday, June 27, 2011

Moby Dick checkout in ROBOT DREAMS

A scene in Sara Varon's ROBOT DREAMS graphic novel has the protagonist checking out a movie called Castle in the Sky while another library patron checks out Moby Dick.

Again, absolutely amazing that of ALL the books in the world, the author chose this one for somebody to check out.

Clearly, she wanted us to read the title, as there are hardly any words in the novel--no dialogue words anyway. Is she trying to convey the obsession? Subliminally?

Well, I emailed Sara Varon, the author, and found out the answer was not that symbolic.

"I only read a tiny bit of Moby Dick, after which I lost interest (I am not much of an intellectual,) but I always meant to finish it, and it happened to be on my book shelf when I was drawing that particular section of the book.

Here is the lamest part of my answer: it has a very short title (2 4-letter words), which I was able to fit into a very small drawing and still have it be legible.

Also, I thought, since the beginning of my story takes place at the beach, it seemed mildly appropriate to reference another book set in the water. "

I think this just validates the theory that the book is on the shelf, we know a lot about it for some reason, but we don't read it. Jaws by Peter Benchley would have worked exactly the same for the author here but that isn't "classic" literature and is not on everyone's bookshelf. I think because Jaws was so successful a movie we forget that the book was a bestseller that came first. Would Jaws have been remembered if not for the movie?

Why does Ms Varon think she needs to be an "intellectual" to read the book? I think that is rather telling. This makes the book inaccessible to most people! Here we have a published author--I don't care what anybody says but it definitely takes some intelligence to get published--that doesn't think she can read the book without a lot of effort.

Also, this brings up the sticky-wicket of us English teachers looking for meaning in small things in books when here there clearly ain't none!

The graphic novel's home page is

Robot Dreams copyright Sara Varon 2007, published by First Second--Go buy the book!

No comments: