This book explores comics as a kind of language, and challenges the routine use of linguistic and literary theory in comics scholarship. Drawing on texts from a range of comics formats and periods, it proposes a critical framework that is better attuned to the specificities of the medium’s visual and verbal modes. The book seeks to minimize the defensiveness that typically underpins the dominant approach to comics’ formal structure, as well as refute the deleterious habit of using “language” as the “vernacular” “for what should properly be called symbol systems.” It examines linguistic content in an attempt to redress the notion that the visual content of comics must always—definitively—control the narrative and dominate the text. The book considers how text is read in comics by focusing on the verbally generated effects that arise when text is fragmented across comics’ delimited panels, subframes, and speech balloons. It also discusses language’s distinct semiotic features, how the comics form can deploy words in its own specific ways, and comics’ images and cartooning.
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