The New Narrative Illustration

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This paper considers examples of a genre of publication which has emerged in recent years as an intriguing contemporary version of visual narrative. These works sit alongside other existing illustration categories such as the comic and the graphic novel and provide a rich focus for thinking about how visual narrative can operate within the book form.
Out of such inventive experiments as the autobiographical zines of the Sixties and Seventies, the low-tech Punk aesthetic of the late Seventies and early Eighties, the ambitious politically-alternative focus of publishing ventures such as New York’s 'Raw' throughout the Eighties, there has grown up a generation of sophisticated and independent visual commentators, whose work looks readily inwards (scrutinising the daily thoughts and life of the self) and outwards (in witnessing the world both near and far).
Characteristically these works present highly inventive negotiations between image and text, breaking expectations and conventions and demonstrating a rich capacity for fluidity between different sorts of language. They typically offer a conversation between the vernacular and the local on the one hand, and wider hybrids and fusions with international culture on the other.
In view of this conference’s particular theme, these works are trans-national in various respects, often allowing for the transmission to an international audience of local stories of immigrant tensions and perspectives or of direct experience of zones of cultural and political turmoil. Wordlessly (or by means of rapid translation) they tell their stories widely, sometimes lifted out of their origins in self-publishing by international publishing houses.
I shall consider examples from France and the US to explore key aspects of this creative phenomenon: Marjane Sartrapi and Caroline Sury in France; Chris Ware and Joe Sacco from the US.


Keywords: Illustration, Image and Text, Narrative
Stream: Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Sarah Blair

Associate Lecturer in Illustration and Fine Art, School of Art, Swindon College
Oxford, Oxon, UK

Currently Associate Lecturer in Contextual Studies on the Illustration and Fine Art programmes at Swindon College, I have also taught on Drawing and Applied Art and on the MA programme at UWE Bristol, as well as for the Department of Continuing Education, University of Oxford. My research interests include narrative-based drawing and illustration, interdisciplinary crossovers involving word and image, and experimental academic writing. My current research aims to open up the scope and understanding of the term ‘illustration’ through both an analysis of a selected group of Parisian artists and a parallel exploration through practice of attendant ideas about illustration. Having worked in the past as a commercial illustrator, I now concentrate in my practice on self-generated projects for commercial and non-commercial contexts. I work with the possibilities and associations of particular spaces, and a recurring form of delivery is through small collaged boxes made from old books, incorporating drawn elements.

Ref: A09P0129