Skip to main content

Graphic Gothic: Reading the Comics Page.

Round, J., 2017. Graphic Gothic: Reading the Comics Page. In: Graphic reading: a symposium, 19 May 2017, University of Birmingham. (Unpublished)

Full text available as:

Graphic Gothic - paper 3.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


Official URL:


This paper focuses on the Gothic qualities of the comics medium. It argues that many points of comics narratology can be rearticulated using gothic literary theory, including the spatial layout of the page and the depiction of time as space, the active role of the comics reader in the gutter, and the mobility of visual and verbal perspective. It reconsiders these areas using the gothic tropes of haunting, the crypt, and of excess. It opens by discussing Gothic in comics, arguing that this mode of writing (Punter 1980) is not limited to the historical genres of horror comics but instead informs comics culture and content across genres. It then examines the formal properties of the comics medium more closely. Using examples taken from different genres of British and American comics it firstly looks at the layout of the comics page. It demonstrates that this is a haunted place where all moments co-exist and within which gothic motifs of doubling and mirroring are often used. It then discusses the active role of the comics reader using cryptomimetic theory (Castricano 2001): defining the gutter (between panels) as an encrypted space that can exist only retrospectively, in our ‘backward-looking thoughts’ (Davenport-Hines 1998). Finally, it considers the multiple combinations and subversions of perspective that are possible in comics as examples of gothic excess: for example the use of an extradiegetic/external narrative voice combined with an intradiegetic visual perspective (of a story character). The paper concludes that Gothic informs the content, cultural status and structure of contemporary British-American comics.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:29244
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:23 May 2017 15:12
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:04


Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...
Repository Staff Only -