Date of Submission

Spring 2016

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Peter L'Official

Abstract/Artist's Statement

In defining ‘comics’ as a genre in his groundbreaking Understanding Comics, scholar Scott McCloud considers images in narratives more generally as operating within a representative space between the storyteller and the objects they describe. This project extracts from comics a structural theory of reading as a subjective visual experience, by comparing the framing of images in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick with that in works of graphic narrative, primarily Richard McGuire’s Here, Chris Ware’s Building Stories, and Matt Kish’s Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page. In order to consider comics as works of narrative, McCloud emphasizes the role of the reader in perceiving a cohesive sense of space and time from the sequence of images arranged on the page, and argues that this idea of reader navigation and sequence is key to understanding comics’ visual language as a reflection of both narrative perspective and described object. This project close reads Here and Building Stories which, to various extents, experiment with the reader’s construction of spatial and temporal chronology and construct their narrative lens around that chosen experience. In addition, these projects also suggest a failure of traditional reading models when one examines comics as a visual experience. These readings are framed by comparative readings of Moby-Dick as a literary narrative dependent on its own ability to direct the reader’s visual perspective. By applying formal readings to this idea of reader participation this project extends a new theory of reading found in comics to consider textual narrative as what McCloud calls a “visual language,” framing its story through the reader’s tangible interactions with the text’s space and time.

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