Aspects of a boy's childhood as a complex social construct in comics



Publication Details

Cross, J. Leah. (2017). Aspects of a boy's childhood as a complex social construct in comics. Visual Communication, 16 (2), 147-164.


The depiction of boyhood in the Western world of comics underwent a subtle transformation in the shadow of the Second World War. Major artists of these sequential artistic texts (such as Schultz and Spiegelman) fine-tuned key elements in the set of resources they drew on, effectively changing how readers/viewers engage with the young male protagonists in comics. The shift in affect was realized in storylines; instead of these being driven by external, performance-oriented representations of 'boyhood' punctuated by mischievous deeds or heroic exploits, drama was created by a much more complex and nuanced depiction of boyhood that explored the internal emotional and psychological worlds of main boy characters. Drawing on representative examples from two different sets of comics, this article applies a bi-modal, semiotic approach that specifically addresses how facial expressions, gaze and speech/thought bubbles, elements of the interpersonal meta-function, construct a more complex representation of boyhood.

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