Tag Archives: Alan Moore

The Comics Patrimonialisation of Woodcut Novels

The Paratextual Apparatus of Patrimonialisation – Part 2/3[1]

by Jean-Matthieu Méon



Woodcut novels form a genre of graphic narratives that emerged in Europe at the end of the 1910s with the works of the Belgian Frans Masereel. It was later explored and expanded by several European and Northern American artists, among whom the American Lynd Ward was one of the most influential (Beronä). If the genre waned in the 1950s, its influence has been claimed by diverse artists, especially in the comics field. In recent years, key works of the genre were reprinted in France and they are considered important elements of comics’ heritage.
The three parts of this article analyse this current comics valorisation of decades-old woodcut novels. The theoretical model of patrimonialisation (Davallon) helps to shed light on this process, which relies on a specific relationship with the past, made of both rediscovery and reinvention (part I). The editorial paratext of the current reprints plays here a central role. It’s a means to equate “woodcut novels” and “graphic novels” and to bring together distinct fields of artistic creations (part II). The symbolic stakes of this patrimonialising process are important: for comics and for their publishers, it’s part of a quest for legitimacy and for an artistic autonomy that Masereel and Ward could embody (part III).



The patrimonialisation of woodcut novels as comics heritage is based on a double movement: a temporal shift—from the present to the past—and a contextual one—from one field of cultural production (comics) to another (fine arts) [see part I]. The first operator of this patrimonialising process is the reprints of the woodcut works. Reprinting these woodcut novels, and distributing them in bookshops and comic shops, is a first bridging of the temporal and sectoral gaps but the paratext (Genette) of these reprints is also an essential aspect of this process. The paratext helps establish the double continuity between past woodcut novels and contemporary comics, creating a double “suture” (Davallon 114), between periods and between fields. As we’ll see, it also makes the suture seamless, thus naturalizing the result of the process.

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Posted by on 2021/05/17 in Guest Writers


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The Comics Arts Conference and Public Humanities by Kathleen McClancy

Comics studies has come a long way in the past few years. Scholarship centered on sequential art is no longer considered beyond the pale of the academy; academic conferences and journals focusing on comics studies are multiplying; more and more books are being published that take a scholarly approach to the medium. The Comics Arts Conference, one of the first academic conferences dedicated to the study of sequential art, has been instrumental in encouraging this recognition within the academy. By providing a home for comics scholarship, the CAC not only created a forum where individuals scholars could connect to become a larger field, it also helped to grow the profile of comics studies on the academic stage. Today, being a self-described Batman scholar is no longer cause for derision. Or at least, not from fellow academics.

Unfortunately, the legitimacy comics studies has gained inside academia does not seem to be replicated outside it. An obvious recent case-in-point would be Alan Moore’s treatment of Will Brooker in what may or may not be his last interview. Not only does Moore not name the mysterious “Batman scholar” who has questioned the representations of race and gender in his comics, he dismisses those concerns as essentially the whining of an emotionally stunted idiot who can’t understand anything without a caption box. He goes on to imply that comics scholarship as a whole displays a lack of rigor at best and is a waste of time at worst. Of course, Moore’s public persona is famously a curmudgeonly old fart, and Moore could certainly be exaggerating for emphasis here, but I don’t want to dismiss his reaction as extraordinary; instead, it seems to me that Moore’s belittlement of the highly regarded Brooker is emblematic of a larger trend in the public at large to consider scholarship on sequential art dubious and even ridiculous.

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Posted by on 2014/02/22 in Guest Writers


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Vertigo’s Archival Impulse as Memorious Discourse by Christophe Dony

Vertigo, DC’s adult-oriented imprint, has been repeatedly praised for having ‘fully joined the fight for adult readers’ in the early 1990s (Weiner 2010: 10). It has been noted that this “fight” coincided with the imprint’s ‘adoption of the graphic novel format’ as well as ‘a new self-awareness and literary style’ which ‘brought the scope and structure of the Vertigo comics closer to the notion of literary text’ (Round 2010: 22). However, little attention has been devoted to the very cultural identity of the imprint, even if Vertigo has since its early days engaged in an intro- and retrospective discourse on the American comics form, its history, and the power relations inherent to its industry. This short essay intends to start filling that gap by investigating Vertigo’s archival impulse. It argues that in deploying various rewriting strategies which engage with specific past (comics) traditions, the label has activated a unique memorious discourse that provides a self-reflexive and critical commentary on the structuring forces of the American comics field, its politics of domination and exclusion, and hence its canons.

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Posted by on 2013/10/18 in Guest Writers


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Airing Alan Moore’s Shorts by Maggie Gray

I would like to thank all the contributors to this series considering Alan Moore’s short form works, and thank Ian Hague and Comics Forum for having us. I hope readers have found the articles interesting, enjoyable and thought-provoking. To me, they have certainly demonstrated that many of the acclaimed qualities of Moore’s larger projects are equally present in these more academically disregarded works.

Recurrent themes identified across the contributions include an exploration of the potency of language, as Jose Alaniz puts it, ‘the perception-shaping power of words’. Alan Moore draws attention to the ideological operations of language, the way it serves to demarcate borders of inclusion and exclusion. However, he also insists on the utopian potential of words, and their ability to remake the world. As Daniel Werneck points out in relation to Moore’s treatment of Aklo as a ‘language virus’, this focus on the ‘role of words in modifying a human’s perception of reality’, is closely connected to his interest in the occult, and conception of magic as convergent with the liberatory capacity of creative practice.

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Moore vs. Albarn: ‘Between the Angels and the Apes’ by K. A. Laity

For fans of the esoteric the news was wonderful: Alan Moore writing an opera on mystical adviser to Queen Elizabeth, John Dee, with Gorillaz. It sounded like a match made somewhere in an alchemical lab with every potential of turning into gold. There was just one problem: Gorillaz couldn’t be bothered to come up with some artwork for Moore’s magazine Dodgem Logic, despite having the issue held for them several times. As Moore told it:

And then we just got through to the point where I just met them, I said, yeah, I can get the other two-thirds of the opera written by the end of February, middle of March at the latest. It will mean working flat out, but I can do it. You still alright for that deadline for issue three? And they said yep, and it turned out they wouldn’t be able to make that issue three deadline even though we extended it for them for a little bit because they had too many commitments, so at that point I decided I had too many commitments as well.

(Johnston, 2011)

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