Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-11

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Introduction

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pp. 3-14

The term “comics” has come to be used, within the Anglophone industry, as a non-count noun that collectively refers to the drawn strip medium’s various subcategories. It subsumes, but is not reducible to: children’s comic books, which first took off when newspaper strips were sectioned into supplements, and which were increasingly aimed at a juvenile audi-...

PART ONE: Language in Comics

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pp. 15-25

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CHAPTER ONE: Arbitrary Minimal Units in Krazy Kat

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pp. 17-40

Comics critics’ default justification for asserting that comics are a literary form is that, like prose fiction, they tell stories. Time and again, “themes, plots, and characterisations” (Lombard et al. 1999: 23) are emphasized in discussions of comics’ literary properties. Their parity with verbal literary forms is couched in terms of generic narrative attributes or, even more ...

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CHAPTER TWO: Langue, Parole, and Constraint in the Cartoons of Lynda Barry

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pp. 41-58

Lynda Barry’s cartoons possess the kind of strong characterizations, poi-gnant plots, and grim themes that resonate with Anglophone comics critics’ content-focused criteria for literariness. However, like Herriman, her work is ill-served by a conception of the form that sidelines textual content, and ignores the truly literary formal features of language. Barry’s ...

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CHAPTER THREE: Language in Context: The Spatiality of Text in Comics

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pp. 59-80

Thus far, the focus has been on comics’ incorporation of literary writing, and how those literary qualities depend on mechanisms specific to the linguistic system. This approach has been used to show what is lost by the habitual sidelining of comics’ language. However, while it has been demonstrated how comics can achieve the same verbal prowess as prose ...

PART TWO: Comics as Language

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pp. 81-91

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CHAPTER FOUR: The Hybrid Question: Interaction or Fusion?

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pp. 83-107

By way of introduction to the widely accepted epithet that “comics are a language,” this chapter tackles the issue of “hybridity” and explores the various ways critics characterize the conjunction of words and images in comics. The French critic Aarnoud Rommens, reviewing the essays collected in The Language of Comics, complains that the hybridity debate is ...

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CHAPTER FIVE: Comics as Network

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pp. 108-141

Sequentiality features nearly universally in critical attempts to nail down a definition of the comics form, as alluded to in relation to Simmonds’s networked compositions. This emphasis stems from Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art (1985), for though Eisner posited comics as one particular kind of sequential art, subsequent expansions of his definition, such ...

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CHAPTER SIX: Sequentiality as Realism

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pp. 142-166

Conceptualizing comics in terms of linear sequencing does not provide quite the scope it is often credited with for differentiating comics from other narrative media. Nor does this understanding of the form offer a sufficient basis for explicating how we read and process these texts. As Watchmen and Metronome have shown, any demarcation of the relation-...

PART THREE: Images as Language

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pp. 167-177

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CHAPTER SEVEN: Asterios Polyp and the Structure of Visual Images

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pp. 169-196

Much reference has been made to the broad analogies critics often make between linguistic and visual signification. There exists a marked critical drift towards framing the distinctions between visual and verbal as some-how specious. Both the simplified, abstracted pictorial style of cartoon drawing and the comics medium’s disparate non-pictorial elements (such ...

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CHAPTER EIGHT: Style, Expressivity, and Impressionistic Evaluation

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pp. 197-220

Alongside narrative breakdown, panel composition, and page layout, Harvey identifies style, or “the highly individual way an artist handles pen or brush” (1996: 9), as the fourth of comics’ graphic threads. He also notes that style is the “most illusive” (1996: 152) and hardest to account for of these elements. He states that “describing a style is about as far as criti-...

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CHAPTER NINE: Composition: Continuity, Demarcation, and Nesting

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pp. 221-245

The final aspect of the formal framework set forth here considers compo-sition in comics, namely the ways in which the form integrates individuated panels into a larger whole. Doing so involves a certain resurrection of issues touched on in Chapter Five, addressing the relationships between panels’ contents and their frames, and also between those panels and the ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 246-252

The preceding arguments have sought to expose the problems inherent in many of the stock assertions that are widely made about the formal makeup of comics. These prevailing assumptions have become engrained as the basis for understanding this hybrid medium in formal terms and the use that it makes of the visual and verbal signifying modes. It has ...

Notes

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pp. 253-256

Bibliography

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pp. 257-266

Index

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pp. 267-272