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Duration in Comics

Sébastien Conard and Tom Lambeens

Keywords: ABSTRACT COMICS; CHRONOTOPE; DURATION; EMERGENCE; IMMERSION; OBJECTIFIED/SUBJECTIFIED TIME; SPATIOTOPY

Abstract

For Saint Augustine, time was a distentio animi, an extension of the mind. This opinion strongly differs from our modern understanding of time as a measurable parameter of the physical world. Nonetheless, subjectifying approaches still coexist alongside objectifying conceptions of time. They necessarily alternate in our daily lives: though we all keep years, seasons and hours in mind, we live through many moments very personally. Hence, it is indispensable that we pay attention to subjective time experience in the humanities and the arts. In this article, we introduce the concept of duration, as developed by Bergson and Deleuze, into the field of comics studies. We analyse the creation of an experience of time in the work of Chris Ware and Kevin Huizenga, focusing particularly on their deployment of repetition, but we also note how artists such as André Franquin and Willy Vandersteen transgressed classical reading time by invoking a feeling of duration. We go on to consider abstract comics, and the concrete awareness of the actual moment they offer to the reader, which generates direct experience of duration. However, taking Martin Vaughn-James' The Cage as an example, we point out that such a temporal sensation is not dependent on formal abstraction but can occur within the boundaries of pictorial figuration.

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