Why Comics? For class today

Header: Why Comics?

Quotes for class today

“Comics, in fact, is a medium that involves a substantial degree of reader participation to stitch together narrative meaning” (22).

Art Spiegelman: “The comix I like, and try to do, can be read slowly and often…. I try to make every panel count and sometimes work as long as a month on a page…. I’m excited by the ‘secret language’ of comics — the underlying formal elements that create the illusions” (24)

“At it’s most basic, we can say that comics is a spatially site-specific form of literature. In this way, too, comics can also be like poetry, in which the line breaks and stanzas and arrangements of words on the page all carry meaning.[…] Comics does not propose linear reading in the same way prose does. Cognitively, one’s eye usually first takes in the whole page, even when one decides to start in the upper-left corner and move left to right. This is sometimes called comic’s ‘all-at-onceness,’ or its ‘symphonic effect.’ In comics, reading can happen in all directions; this open-endedness, and attention to choice in how one interacts with the pages, is part of the appeal of comics narrative” (24-5).


Perhaps interesting for further thought on this

In Why Comics?, Hillary Chute reprints a two-page spread from Richard McGuire’s Here (2014) (pp. 26-7), a comic that tells the story of a single room over the course of billions of years. The book originated as a 36-panel story published in 1989 in Raw, the comics journal edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly.



  • Reading these quotes made me reconsider the timeline in which Spiegelman wrote his work. I believe his father died around 1982 and Maus wasn’t published until 1986, so he had to have taken a minimum of four years to complete book 1 alone. I find it amazing how much work and dedication is put into the craft of making these pages. As Spiegelman says he, “sometimes work as long as a month on a page.” This is alerting to me because for all of his dedication to the creation of the page, it usually takes less than a minute to have a cursory reading and analysis of the page.

  • Pingback: Maus Chapter 2: Auschwitz (Time Flies) – Hailey Karten

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *