Color Palette of the Interrogation Room

Vietnamerica (2011) by G.B. Tran describes the journey of a Vietnamese-American man in returning to Vietnam with his family. Throughout his travels, his relatives share their experiences of wartime Vietnam. The graphic novel is characterized by its use of color. Specifically, each page or spread tends to make use of a specific palette of colors, which unifies each page and scene.

In the scenes where Tran Huu Tri is in the interrogation room, a recurring dark maroon color palette can be seen. This pattern begins on page 69 when Tri is first apprehended and placed into the cell. The palette of these pages is characterized with dark maroon as a primary color and a pale yellow accent. Behind the panels, the background of the page is black. The linework on these pages is heavy, dark, and sketchy, indicating the darkness of the room where Tri is imprisoned. This pattern is reproduced in all of the interrogation room scenes.

This palette produces several noticeable effects in the interrogation room scenes. First, it provides the reader with a recognizable sense of setting. When seeing these colors together on the page, the reader will instantly be aware that the scene is taking place within the interrogation room. Secondly, the darkness of this palette provides graphic weight to the speech bubbles due to the contrast between the dark maroon and the white of the speech bubbles. This effect draws the eye to the dialogue between the Vietminh and Tri.

Works Cited

Tran, Gia-Bao. Vietnamerica. New York, Random House Inc, 2011.

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One thought on “Color Palette of the Interrogation Room

  1. You make an interesting point in your post regarding the shades used to portray Tri’s time in the interrogation room. I never noticed how the maroon allowed for more “graphic weight” being added to the content of the speech bubbles. I also addressed similar comparisons in my post, comparing the interrogation room to Tri’s regular life. Paying attention to the use of colors is crucial to understand distinctions between these two realities presented by GB Tran. As you describe the different palettes aid in unifying different events throughout the chapter. Given all the character names and time lines GB Tran specific use of color schemes for certain pages allows the reader to easily remember the events taking place. Whenever characters are sharing family moments the scheme appears more yellow and vibrant whereas stories of war use more dark and blue. As I mentioned in my post I wonder if these bright color scheme’s always mean a “happier” time? It would be interesting to do a further analysis on the specific uses of colors through other parts of the novel.

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