Documentary Comics: Graphic Truth-Telling in a Skeptical Age by Nina Mickwitz

By Nina Mickwitz

Can comics be documentary, and will documentary take the shape of, and hence be, comics? via a cluster of early twenty-first century comics, Mickwitz argues that those comics percentage a documentary ambition to visually narrate and symbolize facets and occasions of the genuine world.

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Additional info for Documentary Comics: Graphic Truth-Telling in a Skeptical Age

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It is not my intention to claim that such cultural meanings are inherent any more than I would argue that objectivity and realism are intrinsic to photography. Yet the appeal and perceived authenticity of documentary comics can be understood in terms of a counterpoint to the paradigmatic visual representational device for ostensibly value-free, disinterested, and rational knowledge about the world: the recorded image. This is emphatically not an essentialist proposition. But, following the social construction and meanings attached to these different image types, the cartoon drawings of comics might be seen to circumvent totalizing and institutional aspects of visualizing the real (Mirzoeff, 2005, 115).

However, in her account of the relationship between performance and documentary, Bruzzi (2006) positions the encounter between subject and recording equipment as a central dynamic and consideration. This is something that quite clearly differentiates recorded documentary from documentary comics. But the construction of the documentary text, both by producers and in their reception, can also be considered as performative. In the case of documentary comics the performative aspects of production assume a more visible and central role, thus drawing attention to the subjective aspects of both experience and communication.

But how should the words be understood in this sequence? Are they the ravings of an irate man talking aloud to himself, an internal monologue, 42 DOCUMENTARY COMICS or some combination of the two? There is no real way of knowing. Despite being highly verbal, this episode of American Splendor offers little certainty with regard to the correspondence between the conventions of visually signifying sound and purported actual sound. Instead, this highlights how in comics the indeterminacy and fluidity between internal and external becomes extended to, and in this case accentuated in, considerations of sound.

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