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Graphic Novels for Children and Young AdultsA Collection of Critical Essays$
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Michelle Ann Abate and Gwen Athene Tarbox

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781496811677

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2019

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496811677.001.0001

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Not Haunted, Just Empty: Figurative Representation in Sarah Oleksyk’s Ivy

Not Haunted, Just Empty: Figurative Representation in Sarah Oleksyk’s Ivy

(p.59) 4 Not Haunted, Just Empty: Figurative Representation in Sarah Oleksyk’s Ivy
Graphic Novels for Children and Young Adults

Catherine Kyle

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter looks at issues of emotional distress in Sarah Oleksyk's Ivy, a comic that depicts the coming-of-age of an artist whose monstrous drawings offer clues to the state of her emotional and creative development. The comic engages in a kind of double-speak—Oleksyk's visual metaphor complicates everything that Ivy draws, says, and does. A key insight emerges when the titular character expresses hesitation about spending the night in a rundown shack for fear that it is haunted and her boyfriend insists, “It's not haunted, it's just empty!” The chapter make a case that this line alludes to the greatest tension at the heart of the text. For all her bravado, Ivy is fighting her own sense of emptiness far more than any external monster, but this revelation comes only through the careful juxtaposition of the character's artwork and that of the omniscient narrator/illustrator.

Keywords:   Sarah Oleksyk, Ivy, narrator, illustrator, emotional distress, young adult comics

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