Flannery O'Connor by Flannery O'Connor
The Cartoons

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What emerges is a portrait of a much-beloved artist as a young woman, when the sardonic and even brutal humor behind O'Connor's most memorable creations is still gestating.
-NPR

Synopsis

Before she became a literary legend, she wanted to be a cartoonist.

Flannery O’Connor was among the greatest American writers of the second half of the 20th century; she was a writer in the Southern tradition of Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and Carson McCullers, who wrote such classic novels and short stories as Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away, and “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” She is perhaps as well known for her tantalizing brand of Southern Gothic humor as she is for her Catholicism. That these tendencies should be so happily married in her fiction is no longer a surprise. The real surprise is learning that this much beloved icon of American literature did not set out to be a fiction writer, but a cartoonist. This seems to be the last well-kept secret of her creative life.

Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons, the first book devoted to the author’s work in the visual arts, emphasizes O’Connor’s most prolific period as a cartoonist, drawing for her high school and college publications in the early 1940s. While many of these images lampoon student life and the impact of World War II on the home front, something much more is happening. Her cartoons are a creative threshing floor for experimenting and trying out techniques that are deployed later with such great success in her fiction.

O’Connor learns how to set up and carry a joke visually, how to write a good one-liner and set it off against a background of complex visual narration. She develops and asserts her taste for a stock set of character types, attitudes, situations, exaggerations, and grotesques, and she learns how to present them not to distort the truth, but to expose her vision of it.

She worked in both pen & ink and linoleum cuts, and her rough-hewn technique combined with her acidic observations to form a visual precursor to her prose. Fantagraphics is honored to bring the early cartoons of this American literary treasure to a 21st century readership.

For an audience resistant to your views, O’Connor once wrote, “draw large and startling figures.” In her fiction, as in her cartoons, these shocks to the system never come without a laugh. 120 pages of full-color comics
 

About Flannery O'Connor

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Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia. She had a quiet, bookish life as a child before attending Georgia State College for Women and going on tot he Writers Workshop at the State University of Iowa, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. Her 1949 dissertation consisted of six short stories, one of which she developed into her first novel, Wise Blood (1952). Wise Blood is the story of a fanatical, wandering preacher who sets out to found a "church of truth without Jesus Christ crucified." The book introduces some of the religious themes that run throughout O'Connor's later work. Her second novel, The Violent Bear It Away (1960), is the story of murder involving a Tennessee backwoods preacher and a small boy. Once again, O'Connor explores unusual manifestation of religion and human eccentricities. Although O'Connor produced only a small body of work during her relatively brief lifetime, she has received much critical attention. O'Connor suffered from lupus, an inherited disease, which crippled her and cut short her life, and so her creative work was largely compressed within a decade of the 1950's. Her father also dies of Lupus when she was 15 years old. O'Connor is frequently praised as being the most creative and distinctive writer of this period. The two most notable aspects of her fiction are its religious themes and its commentary on the oppressive traditions of the mid-twentieth-century Deep South. An independent scholar specializing in the literature of the American South, Kelly Gerald holds B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in English as well as a second Masterrsquo;s degree in philosophy and religion. Her previous publications include work on Flannery Orsquo;Connor, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and Cormac McCarthy. Kelly works as senior writer-editor and director of media relations for the Phi Beta Kappa Society in Washington, D.C. and part-time as an Associate Professor of English for University of Maryland University College.
 
Published July 16, 2012 by Fantagraphics. 144 pages
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Reviewed by Glen Weldon on Jul 19 2012

What emerges is a portrait of a much-beloved artist as a young woman, when the sardonic and even brutal humor behind O'Connor's most memorable creations is still gestating.

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