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The discussion on the topic of comic books and graphic novels being used for both entertainment and education had been going on for decades. They are becoming more popular as people start to become more fascinated with the unique way, they address the disappearing boundary between fantasy and reality. In the magazine article, “The Art of Words and Pictures” by Rachel Cooke, the author is trying to prove to her audience that the best graphic novels succeed in telling a story that grasps its reader’s attention almost immediately and can provide the same things that a regular book can.
The way she approaches her article is by showing her admiration for one called “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel, which is an example of what that should look like. You have to have writing that is equal to the artwork to successfully get people’s imagination going. Whereas, in the magazine article “A Comic Book World” by Stephen E Tabachnick, he illustrates how modern society is increasingly becoming like a comic book and remains open-minded while giving his view on this subject.
Fantasy and reality are becoming harder and harder to separate from each other. When people take the time to carefully read these two articles, they will see that Cooke and Tabachnick are trying to convince them to agree with their point of view. However, Tabachnick makes a sound argument because he includes logical reasoning, real-life examples, evidence from reliable sources, and a sufficient counterargument in his article.
To develop a persuasive argument that successfully appeals to your readers, you will need to build upon the “modes of persuasion”, which is also known as ethos, pathos, and logos.
Both Tabachnick and Cooke use logos in their articles to appeal to his audience’s logic reasoning. In “a Comic Book World”, we can see that Tabachnick is explaining his logical reasoning on why graphic novels more convenient for people today in a way that his audience can understand. He states, “Whether it deals primarily with fantasy or with reality, the graphic novel is a form suited to the contemporary age because of its appeal to our newly learned sense that reality can very quickly become fantasy, and vice versa, as well as its unique and comforting combination of the qualities of both book and screen.” (Tabachnick 4) The author knows that in today’s society, we have seen events such as 9/11 transpire in real life. Tabachnick appeals to logos by referring to how we have seen things in our reality can easily have a movie based on them or an event that happened in a movie become our reality. In comparison, Cooke points out that the popularity of comic books started to increase because of the praise that Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus received when it was published in the 1980s. People seemed to think that this would be the thing that changed people’s opinions about graphic novels being able to live alongside regular books. However, it didn’t happen at that moment. The turning point for them occurred in the early 2000s. Cooke states “Then, in 2001, the Guardian First Book Award was given, controversially, to Chris Ware for Jimmy Corrigan: the smartest kid on earth, a tale of urban loneliness. This was significant: the award was proof – or evidence, at least – that a graphic novel could provide many, if not all, of the same things as a conventional novel.”(Cooke 2) This award gave reassurance to people that graphic novels can provide entertainment and education amongst other things, in a similar way a book can give. In Cooke’s article, her appeal to logos is evident. She provided an event that was hosted by The Guardian, which is a reputable source people turn to when they look for news about books and suggestions for which ones to read. When it comes to appealing to logos, Tabachnick’s appeal was understandable but assumes that everybody has the same opinion about fantasy and reality. Whereas, Cook’s appeal included a newspaper, The Guardian, which is popular all over the world for giving updates on the latest news on various subjects. The Guardian First Book Award annually hunted for the best books, pieces of fiction and non-fiction, poems, etc. This addition to her article successfully appeals to logos and makes it easier for her audience to believe her as an award is only usually given to things and people who have deserved it.
In an argument, ethos is when you have strong evidence that is backed up by reliable sources. This is also a very important addition to add in your writing. In both “The Art of Words and Pictures” and “A Comic Book World”, the readers can determine whether Cooke or Tabachnick has their evidence paired with credible sources. In Tabachnick’s article, we can see what type of evidence he uses to back up his claim on why he is a reliable source for this discussion of this subject. He says, “I happened to be teaching Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, which ends with the Houses of Parliament being blown up, at the University of Oklahoma around the time when the Alfred P. Murrah building was destroyed by a truck bomb about fifteen miles north of my classroom.” (Tabachnick 3) From this statement, we see that he is a professor who specializes in English literature is very familiar with the questions and concerns surrounding graphic novels and has been teaching about them for years. As he was teaching a class at the University of Oklahoma, a bombing similar to the one that happened in V for Vendetta occurred near his location. Therefore, his audience can see that as a professor he is expected to be well informed about what he teaches and realize why he is a reliable source to analyze this subject. On the other end, Cooke also provides a reason why she is a reliable source. She explains, “Over the past year, I have devoured every graphic novel that has come my way. This has been deeply enjoyable. If there is a better book about the experience of living as a woman in an Islamic state than Persepolis, I have yet to find it (Persepolis also tells the casual reader everything he or she needs to know about the rise of modern Iran – and in just 153 pages).” (Cooke 2) From this statement, we can see that Cooke is an avid reader and lover of graphic novels of various categories. This would make her a knowledgeable source on which ones would be the best read for certain genres and stories. Since she has read many Graphic novels, she has acquired a good amount of information in that year. However, it is an unsuccessful attempt in supporting her argument as many people are aware of the fanbase but wouldn’t find them to be a reliable source as opinions about which ones to read vary. Tabachnick’s appeal is more trustworthy as he has been studying how graphic novels draw the line between fantasy and reality and they are suited for the contemporary thinking of this generation and for many to come.
Another important aspect and is very helpful when delivering a successful persuasive argument is to have a fully-developed counterargument that acknowledges the opposing ideas that many people have. According to Stephen E Tabachnick, comic books can offer a stimulating experience that blends the art of words and pictures to create a story. However, when it comes to “normal” books, it is obvious that a lot of people have forgotten how entertaining they can be and are too focused on the various available forms of technology. It is even safe to say, the ones that enable you to watch videos has consumed this a good portion of this generation to the point of it being near impossible to pick up a book and enjoy reading it. He states, “It is only honest to admit that even the most motivated readers, whether they are twenty – five or sixty – five, can become physically exhausted when reading pure text in books and staring at those little black marks on white paper for long periods with no visual relief.”(Tabachnick 2) The author is taking into consideration that the society we are living today is technologically advanced. The available electronics allows people to watch stories on Netflix or TV that give you clear visuals of the events that are happening in the shows. As a result of getting used to this, people of all ages are having a hard time enjoying books as constantly looking at pages of words can become quite monotonous even if they have. Tabachnick counterargues that regular books have somewhat lost their appeal to a lot of people. Before the electronics that we know exits today, there were one of the main mediums for entertainment and a gateway for imagination. However, forms that seem to easily stimulate the brain such as TV shows and movies, have become easily available to access at all times. People have taken advantage of this and have become addicted to the way it draws them in. Whereas in Cooke’s article, “The Art of Words and Pictures”, she similarly uses her counterarguments. She acknowledges that there are people who aren’t too sure about reading graphic novels. Cooke quotes a statement from Alison Bechdel’s publisher Dan Franklin. “He says, ‘Some people don’t know how to read them,’ Franklin says. “They get a headache.'” Franklin is saying that comic books can be quite hard to read. Especially, if you’re just used to the black lines of text that are in books. They’re not just pages of words that you read from left to right. Rather, they are bubbles of words spread out on the pages with boxes of pictures to go with them, and many times the arrangement is a little tricky to get used to. Both Tabachnick and Cooke deliver strong counterarguments that acknowledge the thinking of the opposing sides. Tabachnick admits that he knows a lot of people get tired and find it hard to read line after line of black text in regular books. In comparison, Cooke knows that even though comic books include pictures alongside the text, there are people who have a hard time reading them. Their counterarguments ca be considered “two sides of the same coin.”
When it comes to constructing a persuasive argument, implementing literary devices and using pathos assists in the author’s goal of convincing their audience that their opinions are correct. Appealing to emotions has been more effective in this society when presenting arguments. Tabachnick and Cooke both use a form of pathos to appeal and invoke certain feelings into their audience. Tabachnick is telling his audience about how Graphic novels can use mundane and sometimes upsetting experiences in reality and bring out the fantastical quality that accompanies it. He states, “We watch as Ethel and Ernest move through a life made difficult by the Depression and the Blitz and then made incomprehensible to them by rapid social change after World War II.”(Tabachnick 4) He is explaining the emotional experience that you have while reading the Ethel and Ernest graphic novel by Raymond Briggs, which is inspired by his family’s story. In the novel, he shows the hardships that his family had to go through the during the Depression-era and the bombing raids on London in the UK and the lasting effects on them afterward. Tabachnick specifically uses a graphic novel that will trigger an emotion in his audience. The novel is set during the Depression Era, a period in history that had devastating impacts on the economic situation in different countries and on the families struggling to survive in them. When people hear about this historical event, it invokes certain emotions such as sympathy and thoughts about how unimaginable the living circumstances were during this era. Tabachnick implements the repetitive literary device by continually using the words “fantastic” and “fantasy” in his article to express how unreal some events tend to be in our reality. In comparison, Cooke is appealing to pathos by piggybacking off of what Franklin said about people not knowing how to read graphic novels in her interview. She states, “He tries to dispel people’s fears one by one. Hate the babble of speech balloons? Tune in to one at a time. Dislike the drawing? You just haven’t read the right books.”(Cooke 3) She is explaining that Franklin wants to help people get over their hesitation when it comes to reading graphic novels. She insists that everybody can enjoy reading them. They just have to find the right one and take it one step at a time instead of trying to take the challenge all at once. She also implements the repetitive literary device in her article. She keeps referring to the graphic novel “Fun Home” when explaining what a graphic novel should include and how it should get the audience’s attention with its art and words. She wants to leave the impression of what they should consist of to assist her readers if they try reading one. Furthermore, Cooke’s appeal leads her audience to question their feelings on why they fear or dislike graphic novels and can make them want to search for the answers. Her path to persuading her audience using pathos is slightly vague and seems to disregard the fact that graphic novels aren’t for everybody. Overall, when it comes to invoking certain emotions into their audience, Tabachnick effectively appeals to pathos by appropriately adjusting his tone to show how he feels about the Ethel and Ernest graphic novel and how reality and fantasy can merge.
In summary, an author successfully develops a persuasive argument by including strong rhetorical appeals, real situations as examples, a sufficient counterargument, and strong reliable evidence in his article. In her article, “The Art of Words and Pictures”, Rachel Cooke uses great logical reasoning and creates a clear counterargument. However, her goal to convince her audience is ineffective because she doesn’t have the reliable sources that are needed to gain their trust and ineffectively appealed to ethos and pathos. Whereas, Tabachnick was more straight-forward and flexible with his strategies and utilized his ideas in a way that his audience can understand. The use of historical events in his appeal to pathos and his professional background in English literature helped strengthen his argument. Furthermore, it is important to understand what strategic moves that an author makes, what he intends to prove, and the approach he has to the subject. When we are reading, we need to carefully analyze the argument and understand the opposition to be able to determine which is side is more believable. When conducting a rhetorical analysis, it is more important to understand how an author writes to achieve his goal rather than what he is writing about.
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