Autobiographical ComicsLife Writing in Pictures

Autobiographical ComicsLife Writing in Pictures

Elisabeth El Refaie

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9781617036132

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


Over the last forty years the comic book has become an increasingly popular way of telling personal stories of considerable complexity and depth. This book offers an assessment of the key conventions, formal properties, and narrative patterns of this genre. It considers eighty-five works of North American and European provenance, works that cover a broad range of subject matters and employ many different artistic styles. Drawing on concepts from several disciplinary fields—including semiotics, literary and narrative theory, art history, and psychology—the book shows that the traditions and formal features of comics provide new possibilities for autobiographical storytelling. For example, the requirement to produce multiple drawn versions of one’s self necessarily involves an intense engagement with physical aspects of identity, as well as with the cultural models that underpin body image. The comics medium also offers memoirists unique ways of representing their experience of time, their memories of past events, and their hopes and dreams for the future. Furthermore, autobiographical comics creators are able to draw on the close association in contemporary Western culture between seeing and believing in order to persuade readers of the authentic nature of their stories.