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Sartre, Sartre and the biographical bande dessinée

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Biographical comics, graphic novels and bande dessinée (BD) are often seen as ‘stepping stones’ or points of entry into a subject, particularly those of literary or philosophical figures. This article seeks to demonstrate the ways in which this might be disproven by considering the verbo-visual works alongside the theories of their subjects, thus highlighting the former’s role as both independent of, and an extra layer upon, the latter. Building on a study of recent trends in comics and Comics Studies, specifically upon the work of Maaheen Ahmed in the idea of openness in comics, and taking into account classical explorations of comics theory (Groensteen 1987), this article will outline the relationship between Existentialism and comics through the biographical BD, specifically Sartrian theory and Mathilde Ramadier and Anaïs Depommier’s 2015 Sartre. Through its close analysis of verbo-visual relations and issues of representation the article will assess the possibility of using Sartre’s philosophy in conjunction with Sartre to assert the relevance of the medium of the (biographical) BD. Beyond this, I will use the example of Sartre and Sartre to posit that the creation of philosophical and literary biographical BDs can be used to inject philosophy into the medium itself, thus contributing to the notion of a ‘theory of comics’.
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Keywords: Anaïs Depommier; Mathilde Ramadier; Sartre; bande dessinée; biography; comics theory; philosophy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Coventry University

Publication date: June 1, 2018

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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