What is thy name?’ Truth, Knowledge and Fiction in Pat McGreals ‘I Paparazzi’

Auteur / Author: 
Henry KEAZOR (Chair of Art History, Saarland University, Allemagne)
Mardi 23 Août 2011 - 8:30


“Comic books are a wonderful medium. They can do anything”, graphic novel author David Rawson stated in the afterword of the first part of the “Chiaroscuro — The Private Lives of Leonardo da Vinci” — series in 1995. Rawson considered the series (written together with Pat McGreal) as a contribution to “helping further open the field of comic books to new possibilities”, and it was indeed his co-author Pat McGreal who, with his “I Paparazzi”-novel, published in 2001, also further explored such new possibilities. Already the question how this book can be addressed adequately shows that it transgresses accustomed boundaries: Its images are not drawn, painted or simply photographed, but made of digitally remastered and composed photographs, thus, it can’t be simply named a “comic book” without provoking misunderstandings. But this technical choice is not gratuitous since the plot of “I Paparazzi” deals with the discoveries the “paparazzo” Jake McGowran makes while h(a)unting a celebrity. “Every picture tells a story” is the motto of McGreal’s “Paparazzi”, and indeed the story eventually revolves around the questions of seeing, detecting, realizing and interpreting the visual data, and around what is real and what is fable, what is true and what is fiction. Since these notions are raised via a visual narration based on digitally remastered photographs, the questions are not just tackled in the texts of the book (the comments of the narrator, McGowran himself, or the dialogues), but essentially also via the images: Thus, “the fiction (…) occurs as in the graphism as well as in the story”, and the images do not just (de)monstrate reality, but they rather challenge it, also by evoking and suggesting an intrigue behind it which McGowran in the end may be able to uncover with the help of his photographs. The story begins and ends with McGowran in his darkroom, waiting for the pictures to develop — but the story suggests that in the meantime he has gained knowledge about himself in any case, thus evoking an answer to the question with which the novel begins: “What is thy name?”