Spatial poetics: control of time and space in graphic narratives

Dodds, Nick ORCID logo ORCID: (2013) Spatial poetics: control of time and space in graphic narratives. In: Spatialising Illustration symposium, 24-25 January 2013, Swansea Metropolitan University, UK. (Unpublished)

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As an autonomous literary sub-genre comic books and graphic novels have evolved as a highly efficient method of telling stories visually. However, the typical ease in which comic book narratives are consumed belies their underlying complexity. Comic strips are a blend of textual and pictorial elements including; representational and abstract images, codified symbols, use of positive and negative space and verbal and non-verbal text. In order to create a narrative thread the comic artist composes these elements spatially on the page. Comic strips rely on the readiness of the reader/viewer to recognise, synthesize and decode the linguistic and visual information at hand, to navigate spatial relationships and make meaningful connections between one panel and the next. In the traditional printed form the depiction of time and space in graphic narratives presents a particular challenge to the comic artist. There is a certain economy of scale that comes with the medium. Attempts at rendering the passage of time or establishing a physical setting for any action are subject to obvious practical limitations. The 'control' of time, choosing which moments in the overarching narrative to highlight and which to ignore, is an integral part of the storytelling process. This paper will explore issues of time and space in comic books and graphic novels with reference to selected examples of theorists, practitioners and their work. There will be a consideration of the role of graphic artist and the role of the reader. This paper will highlight contemporary linear and non-linear approaches to the form with a particular focus on i) page composition and spatial orientation, ii) the dynamic between text and image and iii) the utilization of panels as controllers of time.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA) > Graphics and Photography
Additional Information: The Swansea Metropolitan University/VaroomLab Spatialising Illustration symposium explored the ways in which we encounter space and place through illustration, roaming beyond seeing illustration solely as a commercial discipline and exploring it as a visual language inherent in many artistic activities: a medium that evokes ideas and narrative, and one that offers subtle messages about worlds we encounter. Papers from the symposium were subsequently collated in the VaroomLab journal (issue no 2) published by the Association of Illustrators (see
Depositing User: Nick Dodds
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2019 10:24
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 11:17


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