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Literature > Comics and Graphic Novels

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Comics and Narration Cover

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Comics and Narration

Thierry Groensteen

This book is the follow-up to Thierry Groensteen's ground-breaking The System of Comics, in which the leading French-language comics theorist set out to investigate how the medium functions, introducing the principle of iconic solidarity, and showing the systems that underlie the articulation between panels at three levels: page layout, linear sequence, and nonsequential links woven through the comic book as a whole. He now develops that analysis further, using examples from a very wide range of comics, including the work of American artists such as Chris Ware and Robert Crumb. He tests out his theoretical framework by bringing it up against cases that challenge it, such as abstract comics, digital comics and sh?jo manga, and offers insightful reflections on these innovations.

In addition, he includes lengthy chapters on three areas not covered in the first book. First, he explores the role of the narrator, both verbal and visual, and the particular issues that arise out of narration in autobiographical comics. Second, Groensteen tackles the question of rhythm in comics, and the skill demonstrated by virtuoso artists in intertwining different rhythms over and above the basic beat provided by the discontinuity of the panels. And third he resets the relationship of comics to contemporary art, conditioned by cultural history and aesthetic traditions but evolving recently as comics artists move onto avant-garde terrain.

Comics and the U.S. South Cover

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Comics and the U.S. South

Brannon Costello

Comics and the U.S. South offers a wide-ranging and long overdue assessment of how life and culture in the United States South is represented in serial comics, graphic novels, newspaper comic strips, and webcomics. Diverting the lens of comics studies from the skyscrapers of Superman's Metropolis or Chris Ware's Chicago to the swamps, back roads, small towns, and cities of the U.S. South, this collection critically examines the pulp genres associated with mainstream comic books alongside independent and alternative comics. Some essays seek to discover what Captain America can reveal about southern regionalism and how slave narratives can help us reread Swamp Thing; others examine how creators such as Walt Kelly (Pogo), Howard Cruse (Stuck Rubber Baby), Kyle Baker (Nat Turner), and Josh Neufeld (A.D.: New Orleans after the Deluge) draw upon the unique formal properties of the comics to question and revise familiar narratives of race, class, and sexuality; and another considers how southern writer Randall Kenan adapted elements of comics form to prose fiction. With essays from an interdisciplinary group of scholars, Comics and the U.S. South contributes to and also productively reorients the most significant and compelling conversations in both comics scholarship and in southern studies.

The Comics of Chris Ware Cover

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The Comics of Chris Ware

The Comics of Chris Ware: Drawing Is a Way of Thinking brings together contributions from established and emerging scholars about the comics of Chicago-based cartoonist Chris Ware (b. 1967). Both inside and outside academic circles, Ware's work is rapidly being distinguished as essential to the developing canon of the graphic novel. Winner of the 2001 Guardian First Book Prize for the genre-defining Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth , Ware has received numerous accolades from both the literary and comics establishment. This collection addresses the range of Ware's work from his earliest drawings in the 1990s in The ACME Novelty Library and his acclaimed Jimmy Corrigan , to his most recent works-in-progress, "Building Stories" and "Rusty Brown.

The Comics of Joe Sacco Cover

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The Comics of Joe Sacco

Journalism in a Visual World

Edited by Daniel Worden

The Comics of Joe Sacco addresses the range of his award-winning work, from his early comics stories as well as his groundbreaking journalism Palestine (1993) and Safe Area to Goražde (2000), to Footnotes in Gaza (2009) and his most recent book The Great War (2013), a graphic history of World War I.

First in the new series, Critical Approaches to Comics Artists, this edited volume explores Sacco’s comics journalism, and features established and emerging scholars from comics studies, cultural studies, geography, literary studies, political science, and communication studies. Sacco’s work has already found a place in some of the foundational scholarship in comics studies, and this book solidifies his role as one of the most important comics artists today.

Sections focus on how Sacco’s comics journalism critiques and employs the “standard of objectivity” in mainstream reporting, what aesthetic principles and approaches to lived experience can be found in his comics, how Sacco employs the space of the comics page to map history and war, and the ways that his comics function in the classroom and as human rights activism. The Comics of Joe Sacco offers definitive, exciting approaches to some of the most important—and necessary—comics today, by one of the most acclaimed journalist-artists of our time.

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A Comics Studies Reader

Jeet Heer

A Comics Studies Reader offers the best of the new comics scholarship in nearly thirty essays on a wide variety of such comics forms as gag cartoons, editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, manga, and graphic novels.

The anthology covers the pioneering work of Rodolphe Töpffer, the Disney comics of Carl Barks, and the graphic novels of Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware, as well as Peanuts, romance comics, and superheroes. It explores the stylistic achievements of manga, the international anti-comics campaign, and power and class in Mexican comic books and English illustrated stories.

A Comics Studies Reader introduces readers to the major debates and points of reference that continue to shape the field. It will interest anyone who wants to delve deeper into the world of comics and is ideal for classroom use.

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Contemporary Comics Storytelling

Karin Kukkonen

What if fairy-tale characters lived in New York City? What if a superhero knew he was a fictional character? What if you could dispense your own justice with one hundred untraceable bullets? These are the questions asked and answered in the course of the challenging storytelling in Fables, Tom Strong, and 100 Bullets, the three twenty-first-century comics series that Karin Kukkonen considers in depth in her exploration of how and why the storytelling in comics is more than merely entertaining.

Applying a cognitive approach to reading comics in all their narrative richness and intricacy, Contemporary Comics Storytelling opens an intriguing perspective on how these works engage the legacy of postmodernism—its subversion, self-reflexivity, and moral contingency. Its three case studies trace how contemporary comics tie into deep traditions of visual and verbal storytelling, how they reevaluate their own status as fiction, and how the fictional minds of their characters generate complex ethical thought experiments. At a time when the medium is taken more and more seriously as intricate and compelling literary art, this book lays the groundwork for an analysis of the ways in which comics challenge and engage readers’ minds. It brings together comics studies with narratology and literary criticism and, in so doing, provides a new set of tools for evaluating the graphic novel as an emergent literary form.

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Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss

How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature

Philip Nel

Crockett Johnson (born David Johnson Leisk, 1906-1975) and Ruth Krauss (1901-1993) were a husband-and-wife team that created such popular children's books as The Carrot Seed and How to Make an Earthquake. Separately, Johnson created the enduring children's classic Harold and the Purple Crayon and the groundbreaking comic strip Barnaby. Krauss wrote over a dozen children's books illustrated by others, and pioneered the use of spontaneous, loose-tongued kids in children's literature. Together, Johnson and Krauss's style--whimsical writing, clear and minimalist drawing, and a child's point-of-view--is among the most revered and influential in children's literature and cartooning, inspiring the work of Maurice Sendak, Charles M. Schulz, Chris Van Allsburg, and Jon Scieszka.

This critical biography examines their lives and careers, including their separate achievements when not collaborating. Using correspondence, sketches, contemporary newspaper and magazine accounts, archived and personal interviews, author Philip Nel draws a compelling portrait of a couple whose output encompassed children's literature, comics, graphic design, and the fine arts. Their mentorship of now-famous illustrator Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) is examined at length, as is the couple's appeal to adult contemporaries such as Duke Ellington and Dorothy Parker. Defiantly leftist in an era of McCarthyism and Cold War paranoia, Johnson and Krauss risked collaborations that often contained subtly rendered liberal themes. Indeed, they were under FBI surveillance for years. Their legacy of considerable success invites readers to dream and to imagine, drawing paths that take them anywhere they want to go.

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The Dark Night Returns

The Contemporary Resurgence of Crime Comics

By Terrence Wandtke

Crime comic books in the 1950s caused controversy leading to their suppression and near extinction. Twenty-five years later, the dark hero, femme fatale, and bleak outlook of crime story comic books are even more striking and subversive. Terrence Wandtke traces the history of crime comics from their beginnings to the current resurgence and analyzes the cultural forces that give rise to influential works like Frank Miller’s Sin City, Brian Azzarello’s 100 Bullets, and Ed Brubaker’s Criminal.

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A Memoir in Black and White

Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White is an arresting and moving personal story about childhood, race, and identity in the American South, rendered in stunning illustrations by the author,
Lila Quintero Weaver.
In 1961, when Lila was five, she and her family emigrated from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Marion, Alabama, in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt. As educated, middle-class Latino immigrants in a region that was defined by segregation, the Quinteros occupied a privileged vantage from which to view the racially charged culture they inhabited. Weaver and her family were firsthand witnesses to key moments in the civil rights movement.  But Darkroom is her personal story as well: chronicling what it was like being a Latina girl in the Jim Crow South, struggling to understand both a foreign country and the horrors of our nation’s race relations. Weaver, who was neither black nor white, observed very early on the inequalities in the American culture, with its blonde and blue-eyed feminine ideal. Throughout her life, Lila has struggled to find her place in this society and fought against the discrimination around her.

Dave Sim Cover

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Dave Sim


Eric Hoffman

In 1977, Dave Sim (b. 1956) began to self-publish Cerebus, one of the earliest and most significant independent comics, which ran for 300 issues and ended, as Sim had planned from early on, in 2004. Over the run of the comic, Sim used it as a springboard to explore not only the potential of the comics medium but also many of the core assumptions of Western society. Through it he analyzed politics, the dynamics of love, religion, and, most controversially, the influence of feminism--which Sim believes has had a negative impact on society. Moreover, Sim inserted himself squarely into the comic as Cerebus's creator, thereby inviting criticism not only of the creation, but also of the creator.

What few interviews Sim gave often pushed the limits of what an interview might be in much the same way that Cerebus pushed the limits of what a comic might be. In interviews Sim is generous, expansive, provocative, and sometimes even antagonistic. Regardless of mood, he is always insightful and fascinating. His discursive style is not conducive to the sound bite or to easy summary. Many of these interviews have been out of print for years. And, while the interviews range from very general, career-spanning explorations of his complex work and ideas, to tightly focused discussions on specific details of Cerebus, all the interviews contained herein are engaging and revealing.

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