Check out this video of our own Katy Rex presenting her currently-unpublished paper, Scopophilia and Ocular Mutilation: Kelly Sue Deconnick’s Vision for Pretty Deadly, on October 25, 2014. See below for paper abstract and works cited:
The first narrative arc of the comic series Pretty Deadly uses the classic Mulvey theory of scopophilia (visual pleasure) in the cinema applies it to the form of a graphic novel. It subverts the male gaze– and that of the passive audience– through various ekphrastic strategies, combining text and images to constatnly call “sight” into consciousness and effectively “look out” from the page in numerous panels depicting eyes. This paper discusses the way the repitition of eyeball mutication calls to mind Freud’s association of Oedipus and oedipism– figuratively castrating oneself by destroying one’s eyeballs. The castration and loss of power are by default gendered, and as Mulvey states, “[a woman’s] visual presence tends to work againsts the development of a story line, to freeze the flow of action in moments of erotic contemplation.” As self-aware sequential art, the panels and frames (which are, by definition, motionless on the page) in Pretty Deadly call attention to the male gaze and turn it on its head. Eyeball imagery is also prevalent in horror media, and has been used both to call attention to particular events or sequences and to force the viewer to identify with the chief antagonist by seeing the victim through the villain’s eyes, using the villain’s perspective to guide the camera angles. This paper discusses the relationship between the power and villainy of that gaze and this narrative, which is in many ways horrifying but does not quite fit in the horror genre. Confounding the traditional slasher trope narrative while also utilizing many of its techniques, Pretty Deadly gazes out from the page subversively at its viewing audience.
Clover, Carol J. Men Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. London: BFI, 1992. Print.
DeConnick, Kelly Sue, writer.Pretty Deadly. Vol. 1: The Shrike. Pencils by Emma Rios. Colors by Jordie Bellaire. Letters by Clayton Cowles. Edited by Sigrid Ellis. Berkeley: Image Comics, 2014. Print.
Freud, Sigmund. “The Uncanny.” Literary Theory, an Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael
Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998. page 418. Print.
Lacan, Jacques. “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I.” Literary Theory, an Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael
Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998. page 441. Print.
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” (1975) Scribd. Web. 1 Oct. 2014.