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The Art of Comics: A Philosophical Approach

ISBN: 978-1-4443-5482-9
224 pages
December 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
The Art of Comics: A Philosophical Approach (1444354825) cover image
The Art of Comics is the first-ever collection of essays published in English devoted to the philosophical topics raised by comics and graphic novels. In an area of growing philosophical interest, this volume constitutes a great leap forward in the development of this fast expanding field, and makes a powerful contribution to the philosophy of art.

  • The first-ever anthology to address the philosophical issues raised by the art of comics
  • Provides an extensive and thorough introduction to the field, and to comics more generally
  • Responds to the increasing philosophical interest in comic art
  • Includes a preface by the renowned comics author Warren Ellis
  • Many of the chapters are illustrated, and the book carries a stunning cover by the rising young comics star David Heatley
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Editors' Acknowledgments vii

List of Figures viii

Notes on Contributors ix

Foreword xii
Warren Ellis

The Art and Philosophy of Comics: An Introduction xiv
Aaron Meskin and Roy T. Cook

Part One: The Nature and Kinds of Comics 1

1 Redefining Comics 3
John Holbo

2 The Ontology of Comics 31
Aaron Meskin

3 Comics and Collective Authorship 47
Christy Mag Uidhir

4 Comics and Genre 68
Catharine Abell

Part Two: Comics and Representation 85

5 Wordy Pictures: Theorizing the Relationship between Image and Text in Comics 87
Thomas E. Wartenberg

6 What’s So Funny? Comic Content in Depiction 105
Patrick Maynard

7 The Language of Comics 125
Darren Hudson Hick

Part Three: Comics and the Other Arts 145

8 Making Comics into Film 147
Henry John Pratt

9 Why Comics Are Not Films: Metacomics and Medium?]Specific Conventions 165
Roy T. Cook

10 Proust’s In Search of Lost Time : The Comics Version 188
David Carrier

Index 203

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Aaron Meskin is Associate Professor of Philosophy and a member of the Centre for Aesthetics at the University of Leeds.

Roy T. Cook is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, a Resident Fellow at the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science, and an Associate Fellow of the Northern Institute of Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen.

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“Regardless, though, considered as a whole, The Art of Comicsis an excellent collection and one which is likely to provoke spirited debate and serve as a spur to further research within Anglo-American philosophy (and philosophy more generally) into this sadly neglected art form. I, for one, look forward to these future developments immensely. To quote one of the greats in the history of comics—excelsior!.”  (British Journal of Aesthetics, 1 October 2013)

“The Art of Comics would make a fine addition to any undergraduate reading list, introducing as it does several important notions in contemporary aesthetics.”  (The Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism, 1 November 2013)

"The Art of Comics: A Philosophical Approach is the first-ever anthology on the aesthetics of comics in the analytic tradition.  As such, it is predictably rigorous, but, perhaps more surprisingly, it exhibits a very deep love of comics as well as an intimate and close knowledge of the art form in all its diversity and detail. The book is a splendid addition to the growing body of work on the philosophies of the arts."

—Noël Carroll, The Graduate Philosophy Program, CUNY

"A new, rich topic is always welcome in philosophy. Comics are just such a topic in the philosophy of art, and this excellent collection is a splendid opportunity to explore the subject."

—Ted Cohen, University of Chicago


"This is a groundbreaking collection that sets the agenda for philosophical reflection on the nature of comics and their place among the arts. Readers will find their thought bubbles bursting out on every page, as fresh insights are delineated and new questions are framed."

—Jesse Prinz, The Graduate Philosophy Program, CUNY

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