Cecilia's Favourite Comic Page: Into the Rabbit Hole
David Small's Stitches (2009), p. 62
My favourite comic page is from David Small’s Stitches. Small shares his traumatic childhood experiences of witnessing his parents’ separation, being diagnosed with cancer, recovering from his post-surgery pain, and learning to channel his emotions through art. The story draws many references from Alice in the Wonderland. Small recalls that he wanted to have Alice’s blonde hair as he believed it was what gave her the magical ability to travel to another world.
On one occasion he ran away from the other kids to roleplay as Alice with a yellow towel. He shut himself behind closed doors and stared at a piece of drawing paper on the floor, imagining that he slowly “dived” into the paper and entered to another realm. What I love about this page is the white space that can be interpreted as the realm Small is entering, but also as the comic itself. Because of the black-and-white colour scheme, the drawing paper blends in with the comic page. By blurring the lines between Small’s fantasy and our reality, this sequence invites us to dive into the “rabbit hole” with Small.
The sequence foreshadows Small’s revelation that he can express himself through drawing and sketching. To him, art is the Wonderland. Many of us may see comics as an escape as well. This comic emphasizes the concept of a “voice”, as the readers witness Small losing his voice due to the removal of his vocal cords, and being ignored by his parents. But they also see Small finding his voice through art. “Art became my home. Not only did it give me back my voice, but art has given me everything I have wanted or needed since,” he says (p.302) In the same sense, comics “give voice to the voiceless.” With texts and graphics, the visual stimulation from comics are able to present intricate experiences that readers can rarely find themselves in. Readers can escape to a different life by reading the texts, the images, and even the gutters (roll credits!) of a comic. It is a rabbit hole entrance to someone’s life story, imagination, nightmare, or dream.
When my fellow comics enthusiasts were discussing about their favourite comic pages, nothing came up to my mind. Unlike most of my friends on this website, I did not grow up reading comics or have any favourites in general. Rachel Davis, another writer, suggested to me that I think of a page that “communicated a message or feeling very effectively.” The emphasis on “communicate” reminded me of Stitches, and its message that each comic page has a voice! Maybe I was not listening carefully, or maybe I have not yet encountered any pages that are “loud” enough. Until I do, I will keep digging deeper into the rabbit role…