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Comics and Narration$
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Thierry Groensteen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781617037702

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617037702.001.0001

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The Rhythms of Comics

The Rhythms of Comics

(p.133) Chapter Seven The Rhythms of Comics
Comics and Narration

Thierry Groensteen

University Press of Mississippi

Rhythm is a structuring element of the narrative discourse of comics. Abstract comics can bring out the rhythmic and musical dimension intrinsic to the medium’s formal resources, and its rhythmic aspect may appear to be more immediately obvious than that of “classic” (figurative and narrative) comics. This chapter focuses on the rhythm of comics, first by considering the multiframe and the beat it emits. It shows that the beat is strongly dependent on page layout, that is, the arrangement of the panel frames. It illustrates the rhythm of comics with an example: Robert Crumb’s 1970 three-page story entitled Mr Natural’s 719th meditation. It also looks at the regular layout of Chester Brown’s graphic novel Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography. Furthermore, the chapter examines three main ways of activating (and reinforcing) rhythm: repetition, periodic alternation, and progressivity. Finally, it presents specific examples of the accentuation of rhythm and the importance of rhythm in wordless comics.

Keywords:   comics, rhythm, multiframe, beat, page layout, Robert Crumb, repetition, periodic alternation, progressivity, accentuation

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