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Games Comics Play: Interpersonal Interaction in Graphic Narrative

  • Paul Fisher Davies
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Comics and Graphic Novels book series (PSCGN)

Abstract

This chapter outlines an approach to interpersonal engagement and the intrusion of the self into the comics text which follows the structures outlined by Halliday in his systemic functional accounts of language. This is presented as a form of interactive ‘play’, borrowing some of the approaches to terminology, though not all of the commitments, used by Eric Berne (1967) in describing human interaction. The core interactions of language are presented conceptualised as a set of ‘games’ in which comics texts propose to engage the reader, as a vivid way of describing the array of possible core interactions as mapped to Halliday’s account of language functions. Comics offer information, but may also expect the reader to work for this, playing games of spot-the-difference, Where’s Wally? and Rebus, each requiring different ways of attending to what is conveyed. Comics may demand information from the reader, requiring them to complete the image, at least in principle, and whether they actually do so or not: from the possibility of questionnaires, often in concert with linguistic forms, through Spot-the-Ball interpretations of the dynamics of the image, to Join-the-Dots connections of incomplete line and Colouring-In of black-and-white images. They may also demand action of readers: whether this is done by the eye or mind, following paths as in Maze or sequences as in Follow-the-Numbers, or connecting elements to form a larger whole, as in Jigsaw; or by potential action on the material of the book, from physical dismantling of the page in Cut-Out-and-Make, or more frequently manipulations such as Turn-the-Page, or Fold. The final possibility, the offer of goods-and-services, is represented in the totality of affordances of the graphic narrative text: it adopts the other forms and presents itself as good and as service.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Fisher Davies
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SussexBrightonUK

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