About + Introduction

This site is meant as a quick introduction in ways analyzing the formal aspects of graphic narratives (comic strips, comic books, bande dessinée, manga, graphic novels, etc.). For the sake of clarity every 'chapter' deals with an important aspect of the art of the graphic narrative and can be read separately, but the basic idea is that the interaction between these formal aspects make up a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. 

After some general information about finding background information and the role of publication formats, the various formal characteristics are treated in each chapter in a similar way:

  • first some concrete questions (in the color green) that can help you analyzing a particular formal aspect of the graphic narrative 
  • followed by some basic theory about that topic (some hyperlinks lead you to illustrations or further information),
  • at the end a selective list of academic literature (in the color purple).

Subpages of theses main chapters offer furthermore:

  • concrete applications of the theoretical concepts and tools in various case studies (of works by Yokoyama, Puchol, Franc,...); two samples, the famous Walking Bed episode (1908) from Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland series and a short manga Kuchizuke (1994, Kisses) by Kiriko Nananan, are used throughout all the chapters.
  • some particular topics (such as serialization, aspect ratio, narrative modes...) that offer further theoretical considerations or historical background.

I distinguish between: 

1) the formal aspects of style, including

and

2) the formal organization of the plot (or sjuzhet), the actual composition or emplotment of the events. 

A reader does not have direct access to the story but must in a first instance interpret the lines and colors into meaningful images and the letters into meaningful words and sentences. In a next phase, through making sense of the style, the reader gradually learns about the plot, the actual composition or emplotment of events in the work. 

 

These Tools for Analyzing Graphic Narratives do not pretend to cover all the possible formal aspects of the medium, nor to give a definite description or analysis of them, but to offer practical help for those who want to pay more attention to the art of the graphic narratives. One can also study graphic narratives from a more global scale.

This site originates from my teaching experience since 1998 in Flemish art schools (contemporary LUCA School of Arts, campus Sint-Lukas Brussels) and summarizes ideas and analyses from some of my earlier publications and presentations on these topics. I thank my school of arts LUCA for supporting the English proofreading by Gene Kannenberg of this site.

(Pascal Lefèvre 2014)