Bonner Online-Bibliographie zur Comicforschung
Bonn Online Bibliography of Comics Research

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Larsson, Donald F. "Comic? Book? or, Of Maus and Manga. Visualizing Reading, Reading the Visual in Graphic Novels." In: International Journal of the Book 4.1 (2007), S. 43–50. 
Resource type: Journal Article
Languages: englisch
Peer reviewed
BibTeX citation key: Larsson2007
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Categories: General
Keywords: Intermedialität, Narratologie, Paratext
Creators: Larsson
Collection: International Journal of the Book
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It has been only three decades since the publication of Will Eisner’s A Contract with God (1976), often cited as the first “graphic novel,” and only two since Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (1986), which fueled interest in the form, first appeared. In that brief time, the graphic novel has become (sometimes grudgingly) accepted by reviewers and academicians as a legitimate narrative form and has seen a continuing growth in its corpus of works, a body that inflates hugely in size when it includes the Japanese manga books that can now be found in bookstores and on websites everywhere. The graphic novel, though, raises a number of issues in relation to the status of the “book”: the novel as the prototypical medium for narrative, the relationships of “pop” culture and “high” culture, the physical attributes and boundaries of a particular text, and, especially, assumptions about the act of reading that assume an activity in which the printed sentence is the basic unit. “Comics” (the shorthand phrase for the communicative medium of the graphic novel) have been defined simply by Eisner as “sequential art” (1985) and more complexly by Scott McCloud as “juxtaposed pictorial images in deliberate sequence” (1993). “Reading” comics often requires attention to all of the print and narrative elements that we traditionally expect of the book, but it also requires attention to the complex arrangements of visual details that interact with the print text (if such a text is even present). Reading graphic novels also requires attention to print and visual absences—to, in Wallace Stevens’ words, “nothing that is not there, and the nothing that is” (“The Snow Man”). Drawing from narrative theory, this presentation will examine whether current theoretical accounts of narrative texts and readers’ activities are sufficient to deal with the complexities of the graphic novel.
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