Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Laughter: Comic Books and Laughter - History, Politics, and Aesthetics

by Nina Mickwitz (University of the Arts London), Nicola Streeten (www.streetenillustration.com), and Roger Sabin (University of the Arts London). Chaired by Dominic Davies (City University of London)

funny pages

25 April 2019

Though today we use the term ‘comics’ to refer to a wide range of cartoons, graphic narratives and sequential art that are by no means necessarily humorous, the word still betrays the long historical connections between comedy and laughter, on the one hand, and this most versatile and enduring of forms, on the other.

This panel offers three short position papers on the relationship between comedy and the comics form from three different perspectives. Comics scholar Roger Sabin will begin by offering a brief history of the relationship between early British comics and the wider comedy environment at the turn of the twentieth century, exploring the overlaps between the comic and the music hall and tracing the cultural landscape that shaped the very definition of the word ‘comic’.

Comics artist and scholar Nicola Streeten will then reflect on the critically overlooked uses of humorous comics by feminist activists throughout the twentieth century, from the suffrage movement to the present day, exploring the role that laughter has played in supporting and disseminating the messages of feminism.

Finally, comics scholar Nina Mickwitz will help us get to grips with the way in which comics and cartoons create humour through their visual and multi-modal properties. She will outline some of the different critical approaches that might be used to make sense of the formal components of comics, focusing on the comics strip Nancy, originally drawn by Ernie Bushmiller (1905-82) and more recently revived under the pseudonym Olivia Jaimes, to consider the multimodal delivery of humour, rhythm and visual gags.

SoundCloud Widget Placeholderhttps://soundcloud.com/ucl-arts-social-science/ias-laughter-comic-books-...