Autobiography has seen enormous expansions and challenges over
the past decades. One of these expansions has been in comics, and
it is an expansion that pushes back against any postmodern notion
of the death of the author/subject, while also demanding new
approaches from critics.
Drawing from Life: Memory and Subjectivity in Comic Art
is a collection of essays about autobiography, semiautobiography,
fictionalized autobiography, memory, and self-narration in
sequential art, or comics. Contributors come from a range of
academic backgrounds including English, American studies,
comparative literature, gender studies, art history, and cultural
studies. The book engages with well-known figures such as Art
Spiegelman, Marjane Satrapi, and Alison Bechdel; with cult-status
figures such as Martin Vaughn James; and with lesser-known works by
artists such as Frédéric Boilet.
Negotiations between artist/writer/body and drawn/written/text
raise questions of how comics construct identity, and are read and
perceived, requiring a critical turn towards theorizing the comics'
viewer. At stake in comic memoir and semi-autobiography is
embodiment. Remembering a scene with the intent of rendering it in
sequential art requires nonlinear thinking and engagement with
physicality. Who was in the room and where? What was worn? Who
spoke first? What images dominated the encounter? Did anybody
smile? Man or mouse? Unhinged from the summary paragraph, the
comics artist must confront the fact of the flesh, or the corporeal
world, and they do so with fascinating results.
Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology
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