Comic Space: New Media Technologies and Visualities

Sarah Mills

Comic books remain a popular form of literature, entertainment, artwork and coveted collectors item.  Indeed, in the last month original copies of comics containing the first appearances of Batman and Superman fetched record prices at auction of over $1 million each.  The production and format of comic books, however, is changing.  Online virtual issues or ‘webcomics’ are becoming increasingly popular, as are downloadable versions of comic books to mobile phones.  In the past week, Vodafone announced that a range of comic books would be available to download for its Indian market in a number of languages.  Chhota Comics allows users to zoom, pan and play with the characters, creating a new engagement with the traditional format of a comic book.  These new media technologies have profound impacts on the ways in which comic books and their visual forms are communicated, as well as the audiences that consume them.

In the latest issue of Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Jason Dittmer (2010) examines the audiences and visualities of comic books and calls for them to be included in literature on geographies of reading.  Dittmer highlights the conventions of comic book visuality and how new narrative possibilities of comic books, such as Chris Ware’s (2000) Jimmy Corrigan: The smartest kid on Earth “invite readers to imagine time and space in quite unique ways that other forms of textual consumption do not” (2010:222).  Whereas geographers have examined comic books and graphic novels primarily in the field of critical geopolitics, this paper highlights the more cultural aspects of montage, narration and visualities of comic books that can be used by geographers as methodological tools.  The advent of new media technologies and their (re)production of comic books therefore provides geographers with new possibilities to engage with this visual and textual form.

Read the news-story on Vodafone’s new comic-book market

Read the BBC Online report on the record-breaking auction for a comic book

Read Dittmer, J. (2010) ‘Comic book visualities: a methodological manifesto on geography, montage and narration’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 35: 222-236

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