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The Representation of Music and Musicians in Caricatures and early Comics (1830–1930): Three Case Studies.

Christian A. Bachmann

This article is the first part of a short series that deals with the representation of music and musicians in cartoons and early comics. European magazines such as Charivari (Paris), Punch (London), and Fliegende Blätter (Munich) published caricatures and picture stories about the virtues of music and her practitioners throughout the 19th century and beyond. Preoccupied with making their readers laugh, artists such as Grandville or Wilhelm Busch have often depicted the failing musical aspirant who makes his instrument and his audience churn. The rise of and constant debate about Wagnerian ‘modern music’ spurred the idea of oversized instruments, powered by steam engines that, accordingly, made the very same noise rather than delightful music. With the ascent of Franz Liszt and other virtuoso musicians in the 1830s and 1840s, a new stereotype entered the stage of the satirical magazines. The ideas, characters, motifs, and techniques developed for representing music and musicians were by no means limited to Europe, but also carried over to the United States where they were adapted for an American magazine readership and became part of the ideas and techniques on which the early newspaper comics were based. Unsurprisingly, because artists like Frederick Burr Opper and Frank M. Howarth, both of whom drew pictures stories about musicians, started out with their careers in US-magazines like Puck and Judge, before moving on to work for the newspaper industry around the turn of the century.

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Posted by on 2016/06/24 in Guest Writers

 

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Comic Books and Rock ‘n’ Roll by LJ Maher

There were a number of paths that lead me away from the law and toward a study of comics, not least of which was that comic books are far more interesting to read than judgements and legislation. However, somewhere along the path I came to see exciting possibilities for comics studies under the umbrella of transmedial storytelling. Where transmedial studies generally focus on cinematic and televisual storyworlds (with some gaming and books thrown in for good measure), I focussed on those storyworlds crafted across music and comic books. Identifying this affinity is hardly ground-breaking; storytelling and music are intimately linked, and comic book bands such as The Archies and Josie and the Pussycats ‘performed’ in the 1960s, while other live-action bands, such as The Monkeys, The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch were also successful musical and narrative performers. Meanwhile, pop-bands such as The Beatles and The Jackson 5ive performed through animations. However, these earlier instances of transmediality are predominantly more reminiscent of transmedial franchising rather than transmedial storytelling. The transmedial elements were marketing strategies, not storyworld telling. Therefore, while music might be an element of these storyworlds, it is as an event that occurs within the story. The music is made accessible to readers as an experience within that world; such music does not contribute the process of telling or expanding the storyworld. More recently, the animated band The Gorillaz also achieved popular acclaim as a band at the centre of a deftly constructed transmedial storyworld and Neil Young also developed the less commercially successful, but equally elegant Greendale narrative.

My particular focus is on transmedial storyworlds where:

1) music and comics are part of the discursive form; and

2) there is an element of autobiographical “frottage”.

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Posted by on 2012/04/27 in Guest Writers

 

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