In the folded concertina pages of their book Correspondences (2013), artist Bernice Eisenstein and writer Anne Michaels have collaborated to adapt and put to use a multifaceted temporal dimension inherent in the medium of comics. Michaels and Eisenstein explore the potential that comics have to interrupt processes of consumption through phenomenal engagements with image, text, narrative and temporality. (Smith 2013) Correspondences changes through reading, offering new connections and configurations, made possible by the choice of directions in which the book can be read, and the page arrangements chosen by the reader upon any particular visit. The book opens as an accordion, the edge of each page attached to another. Read it this way, it is a poem. Read it a different way to look at Eisenstein’s portraits. When arranged conventionally, they are accompanied by a text on the facing page. As voices in a gallery of conversations, situated in the shadow of the Holocaust, Eisenstein’s portraits show us the faces of connected figures, from Paul Celan to Nelly Sachs, while the fragmented text of the poem sets up associations and relationships across time. There are echoes of the image/text combinations of Eisenstein’s previous graphic novel I was a Child of Holocaust Survivors (2006), which prodded the boundaries of the medium, resisting a more conventional approach to graphic memoir. Miriam Harris describes how Eisenstein illuminated “a vanished world of family members, shtetl culture, and Jewish intellectual inquiry and art, to identify what had been lost.” (2008: 132) Harris points out that “the union of words and images” (2008: 141) enables a reanimating of the dead through yoking together past and present in the corporeal form of the graphic novel. Correspondences performs similarly, but with an even greater sense of corporeal engagement, and moves even further away from standard image/text relations as found in comics.
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The Sequential Art of the Past: Archaeology, comics and the dynamics of an emerging genre by John G. Swogger
Comics and archaeology should be natural cousins. After all, most ancient languages – Egyptian hieroglyphics being an obvious example – exploit the same image/text synergies as comics. What is perhaps surprising is how limited a role comics have so far played in either formal or informal archaeological discourse – particularly given the fact that archaeology is a highly visual science, and the presentation of archaeology depends to a great extent on visualising specialist concepts and practices. Watch any episode of Time Team, and it becomes clear why it works as television: the presenters’ language is about showing, not telling. “Look over here,” Tony Robinson will call to the film crew, “Have a look at this,” Phil Harding will say, scraping away with his trowel, “This is the remains of a ditch,” Mick Aston will explain, “Running all the way along there, over the field to the edge of the hill.” As arms wave and fingers point, patches of dark and light soil become castles, forts and houses in the mind’s eye. This is the language of visual explanation, and it is used just as much in professional discourse as public presentation.