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Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature [Paperback]

Charles Hatfield

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Book Description

19 Jan 2006
This is a dedicated mailing and e-mail campaign to targeted comics & graphic novel related media. During the 1980s, there was a seismic shift in the world of comics. Fueled by visionaries such as Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, and with the launch of the "Love & Rockets" series by Gilbert, Jamie, and Mario Hernandez, the decade saw a deluge of comics that were more autobiographical, emotionally realistic and experimental than anything seen before. In "Alternative Comics", by analyzing such seminal works as Spiegelman's "Maus", Gilbert Hernandez's "Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories", and Justin Green's "Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary", renowned comics scholar Charles Hatfield provides an unrivaled and extensive critical study of comics and graphic novels as both a literary genre and a cultural phenomenon.

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About the Author

Charles Hatfield is an assistant preofessor of English at California State University. His work has been published in Comics Journal, Inks: Cartoon & Comic Art Studies, and ImageTexT amongst others.

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Comics have most often come in small packages: broadsheets, panels, strips, pamphlets. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book 26 July 2007
By Ian Gordon - Published on
Hatfield has written a very good account of the formal qualities of the comic art form. He deals with the interaction between visual and textual elements in comics at a theoretical level not previously broached. His work shows how these qualities play out in comics creating narratives and meaning for their readers. Having delineated these qualities he then sets about a formal reading of specific works in chapters 3 to 5. In these chapters he addresses both the cultural context of alternative comics and their formal aspects. His central argument is that comics need to be reconsidered in socio-historical and aesthetic terms. While acknowledging comics lowbrow origins he points to the emergence of alternative comics and shows that they offer new ways of understanding fiction and readers' engagement in constructing meaning.

Given that Hatfield is arguing for a greater complexity to the comic art form than is popularly ascribed, and that this requires an interpretative language and theory, his work is direct. Theory of this sort often drifts into abstract language and complex abstractions. Hatfield avoids this pitfall grounding his work in description of comics. Hatfield also addresses broader issues than the simple formal aspects of these comics, or what might in other works be called their literary quality giving a broader context to his work.
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