The Graphical Epistemology of Comics via Jeff Lemire's Gideon Falls

in European Comic Art
Jörn Ahrens Professor, University of Giessen, Germany

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This article reflects on formal aspects of comics, and on how they inherently undermine a mimetically oriented realism, by drawing on the example of Jeff Lemire's Gideon Falls. Due to its pictorial architecture and narrative structure of drawn panels, the comics medium exhibits the procedures through which it unfurls representational competencies. The message of comics images is that what is depicted is not authentic, but an invention. Comics rely on an illusory world when, aesthetically, they remain a perpetually visible imitation. The concept of ‘graphicality’ is developing ideas about an epistemology of comics. As comics are essentially characterised by iconographical representation, their epistemological level must also be addressed in terms of images. Hence, the graphic basis of the medium must contain an independent media knowledge.

Contributor Notes

Jörn Ahrens is Professor of Cultural Sociology with Emphasis on the Transformation of Culture, University of Giessen, Germany, and Extraordinary Professor of Social Anthropology, North-West University, South Africa. Main research areas: society, anxiety, violence; popular media and culture; nature and culture; theory of culture. Recent publications: (ed. with Anja Peltzer) Politik der Grenze: Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf die Frontier im Western der Gegenwart, 2021; Der Comic als Form: Bildsprache, Ästhetik, Narration, 2021; Überzeichnete Spektakel: Die Inszenierung von Gewalt im Comic, 2019. E-mail:; ORCID: 0000-0002-6631-0170

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