The Visual Language of Comics: Introduction to the Structure and Cognition of Sequential Images. (Bloomsbury Advances in Semiotics)

The Visual Language of Comics: Introduction to the Structure and Cognition of Sequential Images. (Bloomsbury Advances in Semiotics)

Neil Cohn

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 1441181458

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Drawings and sequential images are an integral part of human expression dating back at least as far as cave paintings, and in contemporary society appear most prominently in comics. Despite this fundamental part of human identity, little work has explored the comprehension and cognitive underpinnings of visual narratives―until now.

This work presents a provocative theory: that drawings and sequential images are structured the same as language. Building on contemporary theories from linguistics and cognitive psychology, it argues that comics are written in a visual language of sequential images that combines with text. Like spoken and signed languages, visual narratives use a lexicon of systematic patterns stored in memory, strategies for combining these patterns into meaningful units, and a hierarchic grammar governing the combination of sequential images into coherent expressions. Filled with examples and illustrations, this book details each of these levels of structure, explains how cross-cultural differences arise in diverse visual languages of the world, and describes what the newest neuroscience research reveals about the brain's comprehension of visual narratives. From this emerges the foundation for a new line of research within the linguistic and cognitive sciences, raising intriguing questions about the connections between language and the diversity of humans' expressive behaviours in the mind and brain.

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one is pressed to find graphic representations that do not demonstrate this style. This style originated with the Japanese “God of Comics” Osamu Tezuka, who was influenced by Walt Disney and Western cartoonists (Gravett, 2004). Due to his unprecedented popularity at the birth of the contemporary Japanese comic industry, many other comic authors imitated his style. As the industry grew and developed, the style moved away from association with any individual author and became characteristic of

boundary between constituents using a “segmentation task” like Gernsbacher’s; people actively chose locations that would best divide a sequence into two parts, and we only used sequences with the highest agreement for these segmentations. Also, prior to experimentation, we coded our sequences for their linear panel transitions. As predicted, we found that changes in spatial location and characters were far more likely to occur at the boundaries between constituents than within the constituents by

978-1-4411-7451-2 (ebook (pdf) : alk. paper) -- ISBN 978-1-4411-8324-8 (ebook (epub) : alk. paper)  1.  Semiotics--Psychological aspects. 2.  Visual literacy. 3.  Comic books, strips, etc.--Psychological aspects. 4.  Sequence (Linguistics) 5. Cognition. 6. Psycholinguistics. I. Title. P99.4.P78C64 2013 302.2’019--dc23 2013018690 Typeset by Fakenham Prepress Solutions, Fakenham, Norfolk NR21 8NN This book is dedicated to my best friend, John Pacheco CONTENTS List of figures  xi Introduction

xv 1 Introducing Visual Language  1 What is “visual language”?  3 The structure of visual language  7 Outline of the book  13 SECTION 1  Structure of visual language 17 Concern #1: Panels are not arbitrary signs  17 Concern #2: There is no systematic lexicon of panels  21 2 The Visual Lexicon, Part 1: Visual Morphology  23 A visual lexicon  23 Open-class lexical items  24 Combining schemas  28 Conclusion  33 Closed-class lexical items  34 Bound morphemes/affixation  34 Suppletion/umlaut  44

similar to the imprints of actual objects (Dubinskas and Traweek, 1984; Green, 2009, In Press; Strehlow, 1951, 1964; Wilkins, 1997). Things that do not make tracks are “invisible” to the ground and are not depicted in the sand (Wilkins, 1997). These elements are either inferred from the visible marks, or are represented through a different modality, either vocalized in speech or signed manually. For example, birds flying in the air would not be drawn—only signed—until they landed on the ground

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