Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Associate Professor Stuart Medley

Second Advisor

Dr Christopher Kueh

Abstract

Beholding a comic is ideally, a pleasure. The work informs, entertains and stimulates the mind in some way. There is no gainsaying which works will affect which beholders howsoever it does, yet the expecta­tion of pleasure from a work of comics makes behold­ers seek it. Making the comic is also a pleasure, even if the process can be long-winded, winding and dif­ficult. The maker wants to give others the same plea­sure they drew from beholding comics, but in their way, making their vision of Batman, Lieutenant Blue­berry or, their own story worlds. What this research seeks to explain are many of the considerations and constraints that makers have when producing a work of comics, which can often shape the finished arte­fact in ways that are not obvious by looking at it. In specific, it seeks to answer a narrower question: can exploring the way tacit knowledge accumulates and is applied, offer a ‘thick’ understanding of comics?

Michael Polanyi argues that tacit knowledge is knowing more than you can say, which in comics is the knowledge makers possess about tools, sur­faces, materials, storytelling, pacing, mise en panel and logistics among others. This knowledge is rare­ly codified. In the comic as commodity, it is hidden from view so that beholders may immerse themselves in the work. Unknown is the iterative process that went into making a work: the moment of inspiration; grappling with the ideas via voluminous preparatory works; handling of materials and tools; working out the logistic dimension and constraints that will deter­mine the type of encounter with the work beholders will have. I propose a Cycle of Erotics as a means to codify this knowledge and give critical commentators another lens for their use in analysing comics; a way of looking through and not just at comics.

Access Note

Some images and graphic novels are not available in this version of the thesis.

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