The Problem of Comics Temporality, Part One: Jim Starlin

thought provoking writing and beautiful artwork

Comics, Cartoons and Criticism

Perhaps there is no more complicated theoretical rabbit hole for understanding comics than the problem of temporality.  Specifically, how are we to understand the temporal relationship between subsequent panels / segments / sequences, how do we measure time elapsed within discrete images, and what are we to make of the disjunction between the narrative time presented in comics and the sensation of real, lived time?  Of course, these questions are not unique to comics but resonate over all types of artistic experiences and texts; however, the aesthetic techniques that makers bring to these problems and the reading strategies used by consumers to decode them do demonstrate what is unique about comics’ representational systems.

In mainstream comics the gutter, that literal or hypothetical line between discrete images, has largely been conventionalized as a grammatical ‘then’ used to move narrative progressively forward.  This is not a rule, and certainly many comics stridently…

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