Academic Perspectives on Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels as Intercultural and Intermedial Phenomena

Date: April 16 – 18, 2009
Venue: Växjö University, Sweden

The conference will focus on sequential art as an intermedial phenomenon, combining and integrating pictures and written texts into narratives. Pictures can tell stories in themselves, but most often sequential art consists of both media, which together form narratives. Sequential art is a visual medium but its visual signs are iconic as well as indexical and symbolic. Questions that can be asked are: Which form of representation and which level of abstraction are chosen, and what are the interpretative consequences? Which are the most important codes and conventions in the process of signification? How is time constructed and rendered, for instance when it comes to time passing, characters developing, and people aging?

A crucial issue of the conference is how the images of sequential art interact, with each other and with the text. The functions of the pictures and the written words differ widely. Sometimes the pictures simply illustrate the verbal narrative, sometimes the words are subordinate, and sometimes the pictures and the words together form the narrative in an integrated and cross-referential way. The conventional verbal signs are integrated in the pictorial surface in shifting ways: they may be put in speech balloons or rendered freely in the iconic field of the picture; they may be given a neutral form or iconic significance, for instance for sound effects.