The role of the chosen medium in the creation and reception of a work has been explored by various disciplines, including aesthetics, communication, and narratology. While some scholars defend a doctrine of medium purity (Greenberg), even arguing that “the medium is the message” (McLuhan), others deny the influence of a particular medium, like the structuralist narratologists who consider fabula or story as a mental construct that is completely independent of the medium used. In contrast to these rather extreme positions, and like some other scholars (Herman, Davies, Ryan), I would argue for a position that acknowledges variable degrees of influence of media on the process of telling a story. In other words, though stories told in various media may use a common stock of narrative design principles, they exploit them in different, media-specific ways (Herman 51).
In what follows I shall focus on some narrative opportunities and constraints in the medium of comics, as compared to those of other narrative media such as printed texts and cinema.