Published in 2012, Pat Grant’s debut graphic novel, Blue, depicts life in Bolton, a fictional Australian town that receives migrants who look noticeably different from the local community. Risk shapes Blue with regard to its aesthetic and formal concerns: the racism in Bolton places the foreigners at risk; Christian’s uneasy nostalgia depicts a community vulnerable to the ravages of time; and the work itself was self-published by Grant as a graphic novel. The genesis of the work arose from Grant’s accidental presence at the 2005 Cronulla riots in Sydney, a clash between Anglo and Middle Eastern Australians that brought to the fore questions about racism and community in Australian society. I argue that comics are highly suited to exploring ‘risky’ narratives because of the medium’s history as well as its formal properties. Comics have thus become popular vehicles for social criticism, frequently in the form of autobiography and memoir. As a highly mediated form, comics map time as space and in this article I argue that the form productively depicts the return of the past in the present-especially for pasts whose remembrance is inherently compromised or prohibited through other form of record in the visual archive.
- Pat Grant