3: Excerpt from Liana Finck’s "A Bintel Brief," 2014.

3: Excerpt from Liana Finck’s "A Bintel Brief," 2014.

This is a page from the final chapter of Liana Finck’s book. Each of the eleven chapters in A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York was composed in a different style and mode. When exploring comics, readers have to pay attention to a number of factors working together, including but not limited to: the overall flow and direction of the page, or what can be described as its architecture, the sizes and shapes of the small boxes, called panels, that are generally laid out in sequence, the size and shape of the lettering and word- or thought-bubbles, the style of the art itself, and the interactions between words and images on the page.

Suggested Activity: Have students read the letter to the editor in resource 1 of this kit, paying particular attention to the first paragraph on the second half of the page. Then have students look at this excerpt from Finck’s graphic novel.

Ask students to compare the two compositions. In what ways does the language itself change between the prose letter and the comic? Do these changes affect students’ readings of the letter, and if so, how? Invite students to study the details in the graphic novel excerpt as closely as possible, thinking about how looking at and reading the visual narrative might reshape their reading of the original letter. Is the graphic novel true to the letter? In what ways does seeing the story in this other mode affect the reader’s understanding of the events in the letter, including the state of mind of the letter-writer? Have students pay special attention to the ways Finck’s graphic novel excerpt marks time (past versus present) and also to what happens when a figure, like the Angel of Death, or even the letter-writer herself, is portrayed in an illustration. This might also be a good opportunity to discuss the differences between fiction and non-fiction, and how those differences can be difficult to define.

Source: One page from "A Faithful Reader," from A BINTEL BRIEF: LOVE AND LONGING IN OLD NEW YORK by LIANA FINCK. Copyright (c) 2014 by Liana Finck. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publisher.