Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Arts and Humanities

First Supervisor

Associate Professor Stuart Medley

Second Supervisor

Dr Christopher Kueh


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.