Recently, increasing attention is turning to comics as a graphic domain using similar cognitive processes to linguistic forms. As in the verbal and manual modalities of expression, various semantic structures arise across sequences of images in interesting and effective ways. This piece examines metonymy, conceptual metaphors, and blending across a three-panel pattern used in strips from an advertising campaign by the Chicago Tribune newspaper.
I originally had the idea for this paper when I was living in Chicago. I kept seeing these comic strips as advertisements all of the city and they really struck me as interesting since they were using principles I knew from linguistics. As it turned out, I had a class with professor Christopher Johnson (a former advisor of mine) where those ideas were being studied, so I brought in the strips for class discussion and wrote the paper as a final essay.
I think many of my papers end up plotting out new ground for research, or developing some new theoretical tools. This is a rare case where I simply saw interesting phenomena out there and applied existing ideas to illustrate it. That made it fairly fun though.
This paper was originally posted on this site for several years under a different title. This version has been overhauled and updated, so I recommend it for any who are interested in meaning-making in sequential images. Enjoy!