In Comics and Sequential Art (1985), US cartoonist/writer Will Eisner (1917–2005) establishes—by way of particularized form and via specialized function—the art medium’s disciplinary, rhetorical, and speculative stakes. Stressing that a serious study of comics (a.k.a. “sequential art”) lays bare “the unique aesthetics” that are part and parcel of the widely popular yet undertheorized genre, Eisner’s illustrated treatise subsequently settles its critical attention on the blended literary/art mode’s compositional, spatial, and affective dimensions (“Foreword”). While much of Comics and Sequential Art concerns the roles imagery, anatomy, scale, and framing play in the making of drawn narrative, and whereas extensive attention is paid to multivalent significations rendered evident in strategic uses of line, shading, shadow, and perspective, Eisner likewise interrogates the art form’s uncanny ability to simultaneously traverse space and time. These traversals, which pivot on a concomitant attention to panel area and pictorial frame, very much depend on a multivalent, multidisciplinary understanding of the role borders play in the making of graphic narrative. As important, such multifaceted attention to form, function, movement, and narrative takes centrally Ramzi Fawaz’s convincing insistence that comics is “a medium that demands an exceptionally rigorous account of multiplicity” (Fawaz 2019, 591).

This essay may be found on page 29 of the printed volume.

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