Edward Lear has secured a prominent position in the history of literature and travel writing thanks to his nonsense books and his journals; he is considered one of the most innovative zoological illustrators of the nineteenth century and is being rediscovered as a landscape painter in watercolour and oil. This article argues that he also deserves to be remembered among the precursors of modern comic art. His picture stories, though never published in his lifetime, represent an early instance of autobiographical graphic narrative, while his limericks, never out of print since 1861, introduced a radically innovative caricatural style and a conception of the relationship between pictures and text that strongly influenced modern comic artists.
Marco Graziosi teaches English Language and Culture in Italian schools. He has maintained the nonsenselit.org website, which includes the Edward Lear Home Page, for several years. He has published transcriptions of Lear's Diaries, and posts regularly on the Blog of Bosh. His interests and publications, in addition to Nonsense literature, include English versification and comics. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org