Generally, doing the action referred to in this title would lead to said comic being confiscated (and maybe even detention). In some academic circles, though, comics have become serious scholarly subjects, with numerous articles and books emerging in the last three decades.Critic Gilbert Seldes is credited with “transforming cultural criticism in the United States” by author Michael Kammen. Seldes dealt with comic strips (and 6 other “popular arts”) in his 1924 work The Seven Lively Arts. However, comics in particular did not gain their own field of study until at least 1985, when comics legend Will Eisner published Comics and Sequential Art. In this book, Eisner dealt seriously with subjects like “‘comics’ as reading,” “the frame,” and “application (the use of sequential art).” For the first time, comic authors had a work to turn to when describing the particular advantages and techniques of their craft. Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (1993) was similarly revolutionary.As comics have made their way into the classroom, the idea of what constitutes a comic has been strongly debated. Will Eisner’s original definition of “sequential art” is obviously too vague to rely on, especially with the entry of comic-inspired imagery into “fine art” pieces. Many definitions rely on the interplay between images and words, which has made comics particularly interesting to scholars in the field of composition studies. Authors like Gunther Kress regard these texts as areas of multimodality, where “the use of several semiotic modes in the design of a semiotic product or event, together with the particular way in which these modes are combined” can be studied to see how it relates to the whole.Today, comics studies courses are taught at a number of schools, including the University of Florida, the University of Toronto at Mississauga, and the University of California Santa Cruz. The University of Florida hosts an annual conference dedicated to the field, and also publishes the online peer-reviewed journal ImageTexT three times a year. Other comics journals include European Comic Art, Image and Narrative, the International Journal of Comic Art, and of course the critically-controversial The Comics Journal , published by Fantagraphics Books from 1977 to 2009. TCJ is now available at www.tcj.com.
Posted at December 19, 2010 by www.smallpresscomics.com
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