Sunday, December 21, 2008

Legitimation of "comics"

Comics scholar Domingos Isabelinho posts a critique of Thierry Gröensteen's paper on comics' search for legitimation. Domingos keys in on this quote in particular, so I'll do the same:
“Although comics have been in existence for over a century and a half, they suffer from a considerable lack of legitimacy. To those who know and love it, the art that has given us Rodolphe Töpffer and Wilhelm Busch, Hergé and Tardi, Winsor McCay and George Herriman, Barks and Gottfredson, Franquin and Moebius, Segar and Spiegelman, Gotlib and Brétecher, Crumb and Mattotti, Hugo Pratt and Alberto Breccia, not to mention The Spirit, Peanuts or Asterix… in short, comic art, has nothing left to prove.”

His critique of this is that an analogy to literature would be ridiculous: why would literature have anything to prove?

However, we can take this one step further. In his work, Gröensteen conflates the socio-cultural "comics" with "sequential images with/out text". If he means the former part of this dichotomy (comics, the sociocultural phenomena) then Domingos' argument stands. If he means the latter (the expressive system of sequential images), the claim becomes even more bizarre:

Why would any type of expressive form (drawing, writing, etc.) need legitimation? Do we really have to have justification for why drawings (in sequence) are worthy of attention at all? From a cognitive perspective, this seems crazy: all of these things are just ways in which humans express themselves.

To exemplify this, try replacing some of those names above with friends of yours, and the last sentence as: "in short, English, has nothing left to prove."

The justification of English should be self-evident, and so it should be with the visual language of sequential images too.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Status report

I have, unfortunately, once again been struck by so much work that blogging has fell by the wayside. Thankfully, this is a good thing in many ways, because I have a whole lot of really cool stuff going on!

For example, I'm busy planning my new class here at Tufts on The Visual Linguistics of Comics, the first time such a class has ever been offered. I've actually posted the syllabus online. If you're in the Boston area and interested in sitting in or taking it, I encourage you to email me.

I've also got a host of projects going. Inspired by the types of thing I discussed in my last post on Action Star Substitution, I'm now running an experiment looking at this phenomena. I'm hoping to have it done by the holiday break, so perhaps I can post some preliminary data if things look interesting.

I'm also pleased to say that a follow up to my comparison of Japanese and American books (mentioned briefly here) has finally begun, despite wanting to do it for years now. An enterprising helper in my lab volunteered to take on the project, so hopefully this will eventually lead to some very interesting results, especially given that I've expanded the scope of the project to a lot more than just comparisons between countries.

Oh, and I've also got a massive paper on visual language grammar being refined, along with another huge visual grammar experiment in the works. Busy busy busy...