Cohesion and the Textuality of Comics

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


This chapter explores the third major metafunction of comics, the textual function. It situates this function in relation to the other two, the ideational and the interpersonal, and draws parallels and contrasts with other approaches to the application of cohesion, in particular, to graphic narrative visual texts. The textual function breaks down into patterns of information structure, on the one hand, and cohesion on the other; the chapter will especially dwell on patterns and resources for cohesion, subcategorising and exemplifying these with a range of comics extracts. I propose an approach which integrates visual and verbal narrative resources and identifies forms specific to graphic narrative, taking into account both verbal and visual means of cohesion, ways in which these interact and the interrelation of these means to the work of the other metafunctions in Halliday’s model of language.


  1. Baetens, Jan. 2001. The Graphic Novel. Louvain, Belgium: Leuven University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Cohn, Neil. 2016. The Visual Narrative Reader. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic.Google Scholar
  3. Emmott, Catherine. 1999. Narrative Comprehension: A Discourse Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Gavins, Joanna. 2007. Text World Theory: An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Genette, Gerard. 1983. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Translated by Jane E. Lewin. Reprinted edition. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Grice, Paul. 1975. ‘Logic and Conversation’. In Syntax and Semantics, edited by Peter Cole and Jerry Morgan, vol. 3, 41–58. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  7. Halliday, M. A. K. 2005. Computational and Quantitative Studies, Volume 6. Edited by Jonathan Webster. London; New York: Continuum.
  8. Halliday, M. A. K., and Christian Matthiessen. 2004. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. 3rd ed. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Halliday, M. A. K., and Ruqaiya Hasan. 1976. Cohesion in English. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  10. Hatfield, Charles. 2005. Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.Google Scholar
  11. Hernandez, Jaime. 2004. Locas: The Maggie and Hopey Stories: A Love and Rockets Book. 1st ed. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics.Google Scholar
  12. Jakobson, Roman. 1960. ‘Closing Statement: Linguistics and Poetics’. In Style in Language, edited by Thomas Albert Sebeok, 350–77. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Kress, Gunther, and Theo van Leeuwen. 2006. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. 2nd ed. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Lutes, Jason. 2008. Jar of Fools: A Picture Story. Main edition. London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
  15. Martin, J. R., and P. R. R. White. 2005. The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English. Basingstoke, England; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  16. McCloud, Scott. 1993. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  17. Miodrag, Hannah. 2013. Comics and Language: Reimagining Critical Discourse on the Form. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Moya Guijarro, Arsenio Jesús. 2014. A Multimodal Analysis of Picture Books for Children: A Systemic Functional Approach. Sheffield, UK; Bristol, CT: Equinox Publishing.Google Scholar
  19. O’Toole, Michael. 2010. The Language of Displayed Art. 2nd ed. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Painter, Clare, J. R. Martin, and Len Unsworth. 2013. Reading Visual Narratives: Image Analysis of Children’s Picture Books. Sheffield, South Yorkshire; Oakville, CT: Equinox.Google Scholar
  21. Saraceni, Mario. 2000. ‘Language Beyond Language: Comics as Verbo-Visual Texts’. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham, Nottingham.Google Scholar
  22. ———. 2003. The Language of Comics. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Sperber, Dan, and Deirdre Wilson. 1995. Relevance: Communication and Cognition. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  24. Thompson, Craig. 2003. Blankets. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions.Google Scholar
  25. Tseng, Chiao-I, and John A. Bateman. 2018. ‘Cohesion in Comics and Graphic Novels: An Empirical Comparative Approach to Transmedia Adaptation in City of Glass’. Adaptation 11 (2): 122–43. Scholar
  26. Ware, Chris. 2001. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. London: Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar
  27. Werth, Paul. 1999. Text Worlds: Representing Conceptual Space in Discourse. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  28. Wood, Wallace, and Bill Crouch. 1980. The Wallace Wood Sketchbook. Bridgeport, CT: Bill Crouch.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations