Monday, April 25, 2011

New Article: Comics vs. Manga

I recently had a new paper appear in the journal Image[&]Narrative about the difference in the structuring of comic panels in American comics and Japanese manga. Here's the abstract:

A different kind of cultural frame: An analysis of panels in American comics and Japanese manga
Neil Cohn

The growing interest and influence of Japanese manga (“comics”) in America has inspired comparisons between the properties of the two cultures’ graphic systems. Various theories have hinted to the existence of structural variation between these cultures’ books, yet little quantitative data has served to support these claims. This study seeks to provide empirical evidence for these cross-cultural theories by examining 300 panels in each of twelve American and twelve Japanese comic books. It examines 1) how they highlight amounts of information, 2) their depiction of subjective viewpoints, and 3) the angle of view taken by their representations.

Click here to download a pdf.

Additionally, the rest of that issue is devoted to aspects of the visual language of manga, so check out other articles if you're interested. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Comics and pictorial metaphor

I recently discovered that the "Semiotics Institute Online" has a few full online courses that are offered related to comics. One of those is a class on metaphor pictorial theory taught by Charles Forceville, who has been looking a lot at comics and other media.

Of particular interest is lecture #7, which directly discusses conceptual metaphors in numerous comics, ranging from European comics to manga, Calvin and Hobbes to political cartoons. It's worth reading for a good primer on some of the more creative aspects of meaning-making in comics.

Forceville has also recently set up a blog about his research. The site has abstracts for many of his papers, and in some cases even has pdf downloads available. Again, of particular interest to readers of this blog may be his papers on comics, mostly concerning his work on metaphor theory as well as a categorization system of visual signs (that I admittedly have mixed feelings about).

Go forth and learn!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

99 examples of narrative

Matt Madden's 99 Ways to Tell a Story is a great exercise in creativity where he draws the same scene (him stopping work to get food, while talking with his partner) in 99 different unique ways. I've known of the book and its great content for years, but since Matt recently gave me a copy of the book, I wanted to make some comments about it...

One of the great aspects of this book is how overtly it shows the difference between meaning and narrative. The meaning is fairly constant throughout all 99 tellings (its what is being told), but the narrative is totally different (how it is told).

This distinction is important, because it can lead us to ask what makes different narrative styles function? How can different narrative techniques all tell the same basic meaning, and how do those styles change the meaning through their presentation?

These questions are actually the motivating issues to most of my recent research. They also reflect the same types of questions that are asked about the construction of sentences:

what makes different [grammar] function? How can different [sentence patterns] all tell the same basic meaning, and how [does that grammar] change the meaning through their presentation?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Busy Times...

I wish I could blog more these days, but life has been crazy. I'm still playing catch-up from my trip to California earlier in the week (and to Rhode Island the week before), but lots has been going on...

Over the past few weeks I've submitted several articles to journals, have readied another, and am in discussions for a book to be released about my theories of visual narrative sometime in the next two years.

Oh yah, and I am trying to get my dissertation up and going, which involves readying four experiments to be run over the summer.

I've also had an article come out in a journal recently — look for an official announcement soon, once I get my own website set up for it. And, another article should follow in the coming months.

Lots of links and things to come!