I’m very happy to share this recent collaboration with Stuart Medley – we took a look at some current practices in comics journalism and came up with this research comic!
Best of all, the article is open access!
Framing the Embodied Journalist
ABSTRACT: This research comic explores the “authenticity strategy” of comics journalists’ embodiment as a character within their own reporting and the often co-occurring authenticity strategy of visual realism to emphasize the “truthiness” of the journalist’s account. Examining the journalistic comics of Joe Sacco, George Butler, and Olivier Kugler, among others, this study identifies some of the reasons legitimating the practice of including an embodied journalist. We suggest that these strategies are primarily influenced by expectations of storytelling in comics format and the visual rhetoric of the genre.
The concepts of visual authenticity in comics are drawn from Elisabeth El Rafaie (2012) and Wibke Weber and Hans-Martin Rall’s study of visual strategies in reporting in comics journalism (2017; also Weber 2020). We place these strategies into the context of fictionality and storytelling, through Mari Hatavara and Jarmila Mildorf’s framework of fictionality and vicarious storytelling (2017), understood as storytelling in the comics format through the work of Jan Baetens (2018).
This research comic concludes with a reflection on working strategies which can use the reporter-character in comics journalism to add transparency about the journalistic process and the constructed nature of reporting and publishing. We consider the verbal/audio approach to recording and reporting presented by CREADOC, the documentary school in Angoulême, France, and its possible application to comics journalism.
Here’s a teaser: