Definitions And Histories Of Comics

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Definitions And Histories Of Comics

  1. 1. Ways of defining comics: <ul><li>Formalist: through analysis of comics’ various formal components, e.g., the panel, the panel sequence, the word balloon </li></ul><ul><li>Sociocultural: through analysis of historical relations (e.g., comic strips in relation to newspapers, comics in relation to animation), social functions (comics as Pop culture), marketing & reception (e.g., who reads them?) </li></ul><ul><li>As Delany argues, comics may </li></ul><ul><li>be seen as “social objects” </li></ul>
  2. 2. Some definitions may combine formalist & sociocultural features: <ul><li>Waugh calls for not only image sequencing and word balloons but also recognizable continuing characters that can be branded & merchandised </li></ul><ul><li>Kunzle calls for image sequencing and the dominance of image over text, but also topical content, “a popular idiom” and mass reproduction for popular consumption </li></ul>
  3. 3. Specific definitions shape (even enable) specific histories: <ul><li>By Waugh’s definition, comics originate in the commercial comic strips of the late 19 th to early 20 th century </li></ul><ul><li>By Kunzle’s, comics originate in the 15 th century with mass reproduction (e.g., broadsheets) </li></ul><ul><li>By McCloud’s, comics are as old as narrative art, perhaps as old as art itself </li></ul>
  4. 4. Different ways of defining comics: <ul><li>Formalist / aesthetic: through analysis of comics’ various formal components, e.g., the panel, the panel sequence, the word balloon </li></ul><ul><li>Sociocultural: historical, sociological, ideological, economic, etc. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Competing histories of comics: <ul><li>The Americanist: locates the origins of comics in the American comic strips of the 1880s-1890s, particularly in the rise of popular continuing characters (Outcault’s “Yellow Kid” in 1895) </li></ul><ul><li>Some call this view </li></ul><ul><li>the “ Yellow Kid thesis” </li></ul>
  6. 6. Competing histories of comics: <ul><li>The T ö pfferian: locates the origins of comics in the comic albums of Swiss author-artist Rodolphe T ö pffer (c. 1820s to 1840s), e.g., “Histoire de Mr. Vieux-Bois” (1839), trans. as “The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck” </li></ul><ul><li>This more Eurocentric view has been adopted by many scholars, including, increasingly, many Americans </li></ul>
  7. 7. The dawn of the weekly (later daily) American comic strip: <ul><li>WHERE: New York City in the 1890s, multiethnic metropolis, crucible of modern America, home to many immigrants and first-generation Americans and site of fierce economic competition among newspaper publishers </li></ul><ul><li>HOW: By pioneering cartoonists such as R. F. Outcault, Rudolph Dirks, Fred Opper, James Swinnerton, George Herriman, Winsor McCay, and George Herriman </li></ul>

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