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American Serial Graphic Narrative


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Stanetti, David. (2017). American Serial Graphic Narrative. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Cvek, Sven].

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The topic of this paper is the medium of comics and its place in American culture, with the main focus being mainstream comics. The cultural influence of comics has grown significantly in the last couple of decades increasing the popularity of comics, characters from comics, and their contents and brands with the expansion into other media. The aim of this paper is to illustrate the workings of the American comics as an industry and this industry’s practices through a series of interconnected topics. American mainstream comics are published in issues, small pamphlets with twenty pages of story, and their serial nature is inherent. Beginning at the theoretical definition of the medium and its language, about what defines and constitutes comics, significance is placed on the term of the gutter. The gutter is a space between panels, and it’s a place of articulation, of the creation of meaning and implied narration. In my argument I expand this space of articulation into the gutters or gaps between comic book issues and titles, also naming the gutter as a place of economic articulation. This economy and the close connection to capital are visible in all aspects of mainstream comics. The second part discusses the figure of the superhero, the most recognizable symbol and the most dominant product of American mainstream comics. I show how the superhero functions a malleable platform for narratives, and how those narratives change over time and depend on outside influences, their primal allure lying in their abilities to circumnavigate the limitations of everyday life. The last two parts deal with the comics industry, its publishing practices, and the creation and distribution of comics, as well as the community of readers and consumers. The seasonal and cyclical comics stories, which function both as publishing and narrative devices, serve to increase profit margins and have entrenched certain practices over the years, positioning the industry and American mainstream comics firmly inside the grasp of neoliberal capitalism.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: comics, gutter, superheroes, comics industry, capitalism
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Cvek, Sven
Date Deposited: 09 May 2017 13:09
Last Modified: 09 May 2017 13:09

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