[Comics] as Reading, or A Theory of Alter-textuality

Preface: An Apology for [Comics]

Chapter 1 – Conclusion: What We Fail to Contemplate Contemplates Us

  1. Learning to Read Again – A brief introduction to the problems attendant to definitions of [comics] and why a new approach to the question is needed
  1. [Comic] Re-presentation, or How Photography Became the “Reality Copy” – A lengthy digression on the discourse of photographic reproduction in 19th century print periodicals and its incidental relationship to early manga history
  1. Picto-Fiction – A look at the brief life of William Gaines’ “picto-fiction” and how [comics] were reinscribed as something other to themselves in almost purely discursive terms

Intermissive 1 – Allen Say’s Drawing From Memory – An examination of how Allen Say’s memoir from 2011 embeds within its own graphic narrative a number of facets of [manga] history commonly overlooked or actively disregarded

Chapter 2 – [Manga]

  1. [Manga] as Formal Ideology – A reconsideration of the [manga] criticism of Tsurumi Shunsuke in light of the early 20th century [comic] texts of Okamoto Ippei and Kitazawa Rakuten as a way in to rethinking [comics]/[manga] as an aesthetic orientation rather a than media form
  1. Periodic[al] Reading – Beginning from a response to previous critiques of my work, an examination of print periodicals (mostly drawing from the 19th and early 20th centuries) as a condition in which [comic] texts are embedded rather than a mere format in which they happen to appear
  1. Playing Games – A close look at the visual forms of historical game boards and how Rakuten “reads” them formally into his own works, not just as a visual gimmick but as another mode in which [comics] might be read

Intermissive 2 – Nick Sousanis’s Unflattening and Christophe Chabouté’s Tout Seul – Focuses on how both works use [comic] structure diegetically to expose its underlying machinations, namely how it coerces one’s reading to conform to certain expectations

Chapter 3 – Discipline, Langue, and Play in the Discourse of [Comic] Studies

  1. [Comic]al Hermeneutics – An examination of Smolderen’s Naissances de la bande dessinée and the problems attendant to ordinary historiography as a hermeneutic mode for [comics]
  1. Categorical Perceptions – A paired reading of Hannah Miodrag’s and Betty Edward’s work as one way into how we think about language complicating how we “read” images
  1. Divergence Culture – Ole Frahm, Old Doc Yak, and the complex overlap between [comic] and “real” realities as well as a preliminary definition of “alter-textuality”

Chapter 4 – [Comics] in the Web, or A Theory of Textual Infrastructure

  1. The Future of [Comics] is Already Past – Beginning from an aside on infrastructure and the unconscious as a general principle in aesthetic theories to a look at what the ongoing arguments between the Penny Arcade duo and Scott McCloud have to say about why [webcomics] developed as they did
  1. Another Ideology of Form – An explication of significant developments in the early histories of HTML, computer science, and digital typography that elucidate why [comics] became what they did on the Web
  1. [Comics] as Socialized Media – Beginning from how many early [webcomics] found economic stability primarily through systems of patronage to what Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona reveals about the multimedial textuality of [comics] online and in print

Chapter 5 – Introduction, or [Comics] as Guide to Textual Subjectivity

  1. Hyōgen and Representation – A recap of various concerns raised throughout [Comics] as Reading as well as an introduction to divergent discourses concerning “representation”
  1. Photographic Hermeneutics – A return to the question of “reality” raised in chapter 3 through the lens of Alison Bechdel’s and Mizuki Shigeru’s “archival” and historiographic tendencies
  1. Specular Fables – Less a wrap up than a reading of Rakuten’s “mirror [manga]” as an invitation to start all over again



  1. […] [Comics] as Reading, or A Theory of Alter-textuality […]

  2. […] [Comics] as Reading, or A Theory of Alter-textuality […]

  3. […] [Comics] As Reading, or A Theory of Alter-Textuality is an eBook in the broadest sense of the word – what it actually is might be better described as an ongoing scholarly experiment in publishing a book via WordPress. This eBook exists as a series of posts on the WordPress of Nicholas Theisen known as “What is Manga”, where he regularly posts updates reviewing manga and providing scholarly insight into what does and does not constitute manga. [Comics] is an ongoing project to engage comics in a way that transcends the academic language which, Theisen contends, cannot adequately capture the essence of what it “is” to experience a comic. This eBook can be found here. […]

  4. […] [Comics] as Reading, or A Theory of Alter-textuality […]

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