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Violent Cases and Mr. Punch: Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean reflect darkly on the imagery of individuation

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Abstract:

This study considers aspects of personality development present in the autobiographical visual narratives of childhood created by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean in the graphic works Violent Cases (1987) and The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch (1994). In particular, Carl Jung's theories of individuation are implemented to investigate the use of light and shadow in the presentation of childhood memory and adult narrative perspective. Archetypical expressions, such as the shadow and the trickster form the basis of dialogue between the conscious ego and the unconscious psyche in the works. This dialogue results in transcendent symbols of interrelationship between the ego and the psyche. Exploration of the graphic narratives illustrate the ways in which early childhood forms an identification with the shadow, while later childhood and adulthood assimilate the personal shadow and reject the shadow's collective aspects in order to regulate society. The sequential narratives present Jungian 'active imagination' in motion through the adult contributions of narrator and artist, illustrating development towards balanced selfhood. An investigation of the 'dark reflections' present within these works results in a deeper understanding of imagery associated with individuation and affirms the process of visual narrative as a mode for psychological exploration. The place of psychological autobiographical graphic narratives within the wider genre of autobiographical graphic narratives is also discussed, highlighting a need for further consideration of genre classification.

Keywords: ego; individuation; psyche; psychological autobiography; shadow archetype; trickster archetype

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/stic.2.2.357_1

Affiliations: Georgian Court University

Publication date: 2012-01-05

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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