Comics as a Test Case for Transmedial Narratology


Comics can be described both as a type of medium and as a vehicle for storytelling. On the one hand, comics are a medium. Even as online and digital comics formats are emerging, comics remain a paper-bound medium. And even if there are some problems with pinning down the exact nature of comics (see McCloud, Chute, and Hatfield for further discussion), they are easily recognizable as a medium with their panel sequences, speech bubbles, and speed lines. Thus comics take a particular place in today’s media landscape. On the other hand, comics also work as a vehicle for narrative. Thus their medium-specific features of panel sequences, speech bubbles, and speed lines are (usually) designed to tell a story to their readers. This story can be short and limited, like those in newspaper comic strips, or it can be sprawling, complex, and ambitious, like many comics series and graphic novels. Thus comics are among the many media in which narrative is “simply there, like life itself”—to quote Roland Barthes in his “Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives” (79).

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