BRAIDING TIME
: QUEER TEMPORALITY AND CHRONOTOPICAL EXPERIMENTATION IN COMICS

  • Garry McLaughlin

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

Despite recognising time as an integral element of comics, research into the medium in terms of translinear chronologies and narratives is limited. While some scholars contend that non-linear narratives are too exotic for readers to grasp, a notable number of queer comics creators persist in temporal experimentation, crafting narratives with sophisticated structures. This experimentation involves the utilization of chronotopia, fostering connections between panels across the pages of a comic's hyperframe.

This thesis employs a mixed-method approach, integrating comics studies, queer theory, semiotics, sociology, and narratology, among other disciplines. The objective is to construct a "temporal toolbox" that outlines the chronotopical instruments accessible to comics creators. Through examination of the works of several queer cartoonists, the research unearths instances of looping, reflecting, and folding narratives intended to establish affective enclosures. These incorporate the reader not as a passive observer but as an active participant and co-creator, weaving together distant panels within a distributed network, encouraging an empathetic connection within the narrative.

Drawing inspiration from these artists, the study aims to bridge the gap between scholarly analysis and creative practice. It experiments with the contents of the temporal toolbox in a comic book format. By leveraging chronotopia and non-linearity, the narrative critically engages readers, inviting them to ponder profound questions. This study, positioned within the expanding realm of comics studies and LGBTQ+ comics research, contends that the innovative endeavours of queer creators hold valuable lessons for practitioners, scholars, and readers on the extraordinary attributes of time in comics.

By emphasizing an underexplored potential inherent in the medium, this research contributes to our understanding of comics as a distinct form of artistic expression. It underscores the medium's ability to unravel the complexities of time and temporality, and it highlights the pioneering role of queer artists in shaping the future of the medium.
Date of Award2024
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsScottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities
SupervisorChris Murray (Supervisor) & Glyn Davis (Supervisor)

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