A good piece of art is successful in making the viewers feel something; pain, happiness, anger, rage etc. A comic is a very well blended piece of art that does just that; comic artists use their lines, shapes and words to make statements about things that affect people in day-to-day lives. Debbie Drechsler’s comic, “Visitors in the Night” is a semi-autobiography of her life and it mentions instances of her experience with incest: her dad used to force himself upon her.
Debbie took solace in her art and it became a medium for her to express her feelings. “Visitors in the Night” is reflective of Debbie’s own dark past and it evokes strong feelings of sympathy, rage and disgust in the readers. The panels focused on are on page 218, where Lily’s father peeks inside her bedroom wondering if she is asleep, a brief moment of silent reaction from Lily, and then a disgusting one of the father’s penis where his words are just as sickening as the image.
The entire outlook of the comic is really dark; it makes use of just black and white, which is reflective of the title “Visitors in the Night”, and also the disturbing content, which just like the colors used, is very dark. The father’s face throughout the panels is always shadowed in black and Lily’s in white, which is the artist’s way of reflecting their contrasting characters on their faces. The faces drawn are more realistic than iconic, they are showing facial expressions in great detail and one can see the inhumane predator look in the father’s eyes.
He is bent over Lily and is touching her blanket in all the wrong places. The artist drew Lily’s face in a realistic manner as well, her expressions are subjective of her feelings; with her eyes shut tightly and her mouth all twisted, she is grabbing the pillow in great turmoil with the word balloon saying “please, please go away”. This specific moment in the comic is truly heartbreaking as the reader can visually see the pain the little girl is going through and is enraged by the look on the father’s face as his intentions are very specific and clear.
The panels are drawn very neatly and in synchronization. There is very minimal gutter space between two panels and the transition between them is action-to-action. The father is seen entering the room, bending over Lily and taking off his robe. The entire sequence takes hardly a minute to read but the content is so overwhelming that the reader just has to stop and lament over the little girl’s fate; this is exactly how Lily would feel, that the process takes ages and she just wants it to be over.
Debbie used her comic to be more expressive about things as a woman and talk about such uncomfortable taboos. She did not try to sugar coat things and stated the reality of her life directly, unlike her Lily’s father using words like “honey” and “little girl”. This comic is very thought provoking and just like other pieces of art, is an effort to make people aware of the reality of life and evoke strong emotions in them.
Drechsler, Debbie. “Visitors in the Night.” An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, & True Stories,. Eds. Ivan Brunetti. New Haven: Yale UP, 2006: 218-23.