Abstraction in Comics


The study of narrative in comics (which I will use as a general term covering both mainstream comics and more highbrow graphic novels) has often been a mere copy of the study of narrative in other fields (mainly literature, but sometimes also film). This a priori approach to narrative in comics as a mere instantiation of narrative in general is now under pressure. However, the aim of this contribution is not to defend the necessity of a medium-specific analysis of narrative in comics (Groensteen, System; Smolderen), but to make a plea for the enrichment of narrative theory in general by investigating its relevance for a wide range of narrative corpora, and to address questions and methodological issues thereby brought to light. In this article, the quite remarkable corpus of abstract comics will provide the opportunity for such cross-fertilization. I will draw on several examples from this corpus to highlight directions for further inquiry into the structures and uses of abstraction in comics.

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