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Thoss, Jeff: "“This Strip Doesn’t Have a Fourth Wall”. Webcomics and the Metareferential Turn." In: The Metareferential Turn in Contemporary Arts and Media. Forms, Functions, Attempts at Explanation. Hrsg. v. Werner Wolf und Katharina Bantleon. (Studies in Intermediality, 5.) Amsterdam [etc.]: Rodopi, 2011, S. 551–568.
|Resource type: Book Article
BibTeX citation key: Thoss2011a
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Keywords: Metaisierung, Webcomics
Creators: Bantleon, Thoss, Wolf
Publisher: Rodopi (Amsterdam [etc.])
Collection: The Metareferential Turn in Contemporary Arts and Media. Forms, Functions, Attempts at Explanation
Metareference has always been part of newspaper comic strips and has even grown in popularity in recent decades. This essay argues that some of the more prominent examples of metareference can be found in webcomics, though. As part of a trend dubbed ‘no fourth wall’, a group of webcomics features characters which are fully aware of being in a comic strip and freely converse with ‘the cartoonist’. This cartoonist displays an outrageous lack of competence, ranging from poor artwork and lousy jokes to utter laziness. These deficiencies turn out to be the comics’ whole point, with the cartoonist and characters partaking in endless acts of self-deprecation. In the course of this, metaization is taken to such absurd levels that, as the strips appear to grow tired of a clichéd use of metareference, they engage in even more of it. In the end, these metacomics prove the existence of a metareferential turn by denying metareference’s novelty. They are using a hackneyed device with the full knowledge that it is hackneyed and manage to always make the same old joke work one more time. Their relentless and unapologetic metareferentiality may not be for everyone, yet in the largely unregulated medium of webcomics, it has found a place.
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