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Dark Genesis: Falls from language and returns to Eden from 'Pog' to Promethea

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While Alan Moore's recent work has emphasized the power and primacy of language, this article examines one early story that focuses on its limitations. 'Pog', published during Moore's tenure on Swamp Thing, returns its characters to their generic, cultural and linguistic origins to argue that comics and other forms of pictorial narrative can convey meaning more clearly than words. Moore effectively strips the Swamp Thing of language in 'Pog', restoring him to his original role as a speechless, unintelligible monster and forcing him to devise nonverbal, pictorial methods of communication. Moore's story also recalls a number of intertexts, from Walt Kelly's comic strip Pogo to the Biblical fall of man. These allusions speak directly to the issue's linguistic preoccupations, suggesting that humanity has fallen from a perfect and universal language of direct correspondence between sign and object into a chaotic profusion of tongues and a welter of arbitrary, floating signifiers. Like later works such as Promethea, 'Pog' proposes that comics have the potential to counteract this linguistic fall through their recourse to visual as well as verbal narratives. Unlike Moore's later comics, however, 'Pog' does not argue that our world is constituted by language and does not express much confidence that any language, even a visual one, is capable of resolving its shortcomings.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-07-01

More about this publication?
  • Studies in Comics aims to describe the nature of comics, to identify the medium as a distinct art form, and to address the medium's formal properties. The emerging field of comics studies is a model for interdisciplinary research and in this spirit this journal welcomes all approaches. This journal is international in scope and provides an inclusive space in which researchers from all backgrounds can present new thinking on comics to a global audience. The journal will promote the close analysis of the comics page/text using a variety of methodologies. Its specific goal, however, is to expand the relationship between comics and theory and to articulate a "theory of comics". The journal also includes reviews of new comics, criticism, and exhibitions, and a dedicated online space for cutting-edge and emergent creative work.

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