The legitimacy of the academy (i.e. [comics] as an acceptable object of analysis) and legitimacy in the academy (i.e. departments and institutes devoted to establishing [comic] studies in perpetuity) appear to be the great desideratum and have been for some time. I would argue, though, that what is sought after in these calls to discipline (and publish) is not, in fact, just legitimacy or, more blandly, acceptance of [comics] and their scholarship as something worthwhile (for this is, by now, a fait accompli) but the power and authority to legitimize in one’s own right.
While the identification of a genealogical tradition from Hogarth or Töpffer or whomever may represent a real coup for the scholar/historiographer, it means surprisingly little for a more “ignorant” reader who only has the textual artifact itself (in addition to her own “limited” knowledge) to go on, be that the elusive [comic] book or some [comic] text encountered within the limited framing of a print medium, and by “print medium” I mean equally what so far I have referred to as a print periodical (sing.) such as The World and a scholarly monograph such as Smolderen’s text, which purports to observe and analyze [comics] from a certain remove.
What Smolderen oddly fails to allow for is the potential to think of the past in terms of the artifacts of that past and their messy, rather non-obvious relationship to each other. I am hesitant to say simply “in terms of the past,” since the before now only ever survives artifactually, but what I mean to say is that historical thinking does not have to posit a trajectory, a vector, either from “then” to “now” or from “now” to “then.” It is entirely possible to think the past in terms of an array of roughly contemporaneous things, rather than a tradition or line of causality, and perhaps, if anything like a readerly encounter with a text is to be hypothesized, this way of thinking has to at least be considered.
There is a sense in which the moment of publication, understood broadly as when a text enters into the public sphere, is one in which it is already reproduced. From an editorial perspective, what one sees in print is the product of many hands and likely many revisions, most of which never see the light of day, and so to speak of it as an “original,” while apt in some respects, is to invisibilize a process that has a more or less determinative relationship to what a reader might encounter as text.
PREVIOUS: Chapter 2 – [Manga] I like to admit when I’m wrong, especially when a particular approach I have taken reveals itself to be fundamentally misguided. Of course, these are the moments when, psychologically, it’s hardest to simply be wrong, and any number of beautiful rationalizations drift into your awareness so as to justify why you […]
PREVIOUS: [Manga] pt. 5 This mode of sequential progress through a number of juxtaposed frames/cells within a total page/board layout may be analogous to a common though by no means universal understanding of [comics] as, at their core, “sequential art,” yet it remains an open question whether this mode of understanding is especially useful for […]
PREVIOUS: [Manga] pt. 4 The [manga] variants on the game of the goose one sees around this time retain some features (e.g. the spiral pattern, which is not specific to it, and the satire of current affairs) while discarding others (e.g. the rules of play and the 63 game spaces). For instance, Rakuten’s Election Race […]