The System of Comics

The System of Comics

Thierry Groensteen, Bart Beaty

Language: English

Pages: 204

ISBN: 1604732598

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This edition of Thierry Groensteen's The System of Comics makes available in English a groundbreaking work on comics by one of the medium's foremost scholars. In this book, originally published in France in 1999, Groensteen explains clearly the subtle, complex workings of the medium and its unique way of combining visual, verbal, spatial, and chronological expressions. The author explores the nineteenth-century pioneer Rodolphe Töpffer, contemporary Japanese creators, George Herriman's Krazy Kat, and modern American autobiographical comics.

The System of Comics uses examples from a wide variety of countries including the United States, England, Japan, France, and Argentina. It describes and analyzes the properties and functions of speech and thought balloons, panels, strips, and pages to examine methodically and insightfully the medium's fundamental processes.

From this, Groensteen develops his own coherent, overarching theory of comics, a "system" that both builds on existing studies of the "word and image" paradigm and adds innovative approaches of his own. Examining both meaning and appreciation, the book provides a wealth of ideas that will challenge the way scholars approach the study of comics. By emphasizing not simply "storytelling techniques" but also the qualities of the printed page and the reader's engagement, the book's approach is broadly applicable to all forms of interpreting this evolving art.

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theoretically exist—and have existed historically). The difference, it follows, can be qualified as ontologic, and I want, for the instant, to linger a bit longer on this second aspect. If one agrees with Guy Gauthier that “to choose, for a figurative image, is not only to decide what is going to be visible, but also what must be concealed,”20 one must immediately add that the question of choice is posed differently to the filmmaker (to the camera operator, to the framer) and to the cartoonist.

to the inset in comics. First of all, because several panels will often be necessary in order to produce an enunciation equivalent to that of a single cinematographic shot (the equivalent of a subjective insert, for example). Second, because the autonomy of the inset panel is lesser than that of the insert in the sense that the comics image, contrary to the filmic image, is offered to the gaze only in a situation of coexistence with the surrounding images. The insert is framed by two other shots

mission progressing toward a resolution. In particular, certain mangas are signaled by a massive use of panels that are superfluous from a strictly narrative point of view, their precise function is elsewhere: decorative, documentary, rhythmic, or poetic, whatever the case. These panels respect the general principle of co-reference, but their contribution cannot be evaluated in terms of information. More than the panel, it is therefore the page or the sequence that, under this relationship,

silhouette, it appears frozen in a hieratic posture and endowed with ubiquity. Time and action seem suspended, as if the same instant found itself eternalized by a means of diffraction. The same procedure is applied successively to the spectre, then, in the following page, to the prince. The two characters never appear within the same image in this sequence (or even on the same page); the theme of the pursuit of one another across all the rooms in the palace seems to be elided. While it does not

American researcher, is violently opposed to this view. Challenging, and not without some bad faith, each of the conditions proposed by Kunzle, Blackbeard formulated the following definition: A serially published, episodic, open-ended dramatic narrative or series of linked anecdotes about recurrent identified characters, told in successive drawings regularly enclosing ballooned dialogue or its equivalent and generally minimal narrative text.41 These two definitions are, to my understanding,

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