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Haines suggests that he might publish a collection of Stephen’s sayings, but Stephen impertinently suggests he’ll participate if he stands to make any money by it. He thinks to himself how Mulligan’s and Haines’ habit of bathing is an attempt to cleanse themselves of more than just dirt.
In the first panel of this page, there’s a kind of exchange between Haines’ dialogue and Stephen’s internal monologue. Of course, what Stephen is thinking to himself (in the dark boxes) is harder to understand than what Haines is saying out loud. “They wash and tub and scrub” refers back to Mulligan’s teasing about Stephen’s infrequent bathing (check the last page), which Stephen also associates with Lady Macbeth’s scrubbing.
“Agenbite of Inwit” is a little more obscure. It’s a Middle English phrase that means (again according to Professor Gifford) “remorse of conscience.” When you think about it, it makes wonderful sense. Your inner wits bite you. again.
The kick under the table is Mulligan kicking Stephen, so as to get him to perform his Shakespeare theory and close the deal on Haines’ support. Or at least to get Haines to buy a few round of drinks. But Stephen does not want to play–apparently he’s in no mood, and since he’s getting paid today he doesn’t need Haines’ help. So he does a decidedly un-English thing and puts his desire to be paid for his work out in plain view.
I’m quite happy with the way this page worked out and, with drawing comix, its best not to look back with any regrets and just keep plodding ahead to see where the story takes you.
That being said, I’ve never been certain about that look on Stephen’s face. Turning his head that way works well in some ways, but makes the shot more open and quizzical. Stephen is willfully being a bit of an ass here, and this angle doesn’t make that play well.
I mention this because i think it’s a really strong example of how comix is much more of an “actor’s art” than it is about the drawing. How do you construct the page and the viewpoint and the rhythm of dialogue is all in service to nailing the right expression as simply as possible.
I must, humbly and adoringly say, that this Page is brilliant: it moves in all directions, in and out and around, to create awareness, inner turbulence. It’s Joyce’s poetic (hope succeeded in putting it right). Thank You.
Thanks so much! The practicality of a “free-flowing vantage point” in comix is a great part of why I think the novel translates better in this medium than into film. Jump-cutting these different vantage points in film would be chaotic and a bit unsettling for the viewer, but in comix it feels perfectly natural.
Imagine how we’ll be able to exploit that nature of the comix language when we get to “Wandering Rocks”…