The modest landmark of the fifth edition of European Comic Art (ECA) entitles us to a mini-retrospective: thus far, we have devoted the journal to explorations of comic art as: innovatory medium in relation to form and subject matter (1.1); expression of national identities (1.2); associated with the development of caricature (2.1); part of a text/image current that underwent significant development in the nineteenth century (2.2). We now move on, in 3.1, to consider the internal workings of comics as an art form, and in particular the question of narration, by means of both theoretical overview and detailed examination of works that display the narrative resources of the medium in striking ways. From their earliest days, comics have been an inexhaustible source of narrative invention, as a deceptively simple mechanism – based on discontinuous frames and on interplay between text and image – has been manipulated to dazzling creative effect. The virtuosity and metanarrative awareness of practitioners, from Rodolphe Töpffer to Marc-Antoine Mathieu, have challenged critics to find theoretical discourses capable of accounting for the complexity and subtlety of comics as a narrative art form. This issue of ECA aims to take the debate forward.
Narration in Comics
The Louvre and the Bande Dessinée
Margaret C. Flinn
This article concerns the eight albums currently available in a series of bandes dessinées commissioned by the Louvre from established, well-respected bédéistes and co-published with Futuropolis since 2005. This successful, high-profile series has elicited positive critical response, but that response has also exposed persistent mutual antagonisms between bande dessinée and the establishment art world as represented by the Louvre Museum. These tensions between 'high' and 'low' culture can be read within the narratives of the albums themselves, in which we see reflexivity used to highlight bande dessinée's artistic value, and various types of obstruction and sensory impairments (realist and supernatural) are used to disrupt quotidian relationships to museum space.