On the History and Hermeneutics of Comics

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Christian Wessely


What is a comic? The simple answer states that a comic is a drawn story that is picture- rather than text-oriented and told serially. In other words, a comic is a type of illustration. Realism is not its goal; rather a narrative is developed through reduction according to specific stylistic means.
I start this article with a definition of the term “comic”, and move on to highlight the complexity of the comic and to argue that insight into this complexity is necessary for its correct interpretation. Only then can we recognise that the comic is not only entertaining but also, in its own way, a vehicle for content that might be system confirming and propagandistic but can also be system critical. Doing so allows us to see the potential of the comic that is embedded in its particular affinity with nonlinear interactive audiovisual media.

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Author Biography

Christian Wessely, Institute for Fundamental Theology, Karl-Franzens-University, Graz

Master Craftsman Diploma and Engineer for Agriculture (HBLFA Raumberg-Gumpenstein, 1984/1991); Mag. theol. 1991); Dr. theol. (Fundamental Theology; Thesis on Mythological Structures in Entertainment Industry, Frankfurt: Lang 1995). Habilitation in Fundamental Theology (2004; Thesis: Gekommen, um zu dienen, Regensburg: Pustet 2005).

Chairman of the Institute for Fundamental Theology at the Karl-Franzens-University Graz since 2014