Kenneth Oravetz - Comics Codices Futures: A Different Approach to Understanding Print Comics Materiality in the Digital Era
conference contributionposted on 29.06.2020, 15:46 by Kenneth Oravetz
This presentation seeks to posit possible futures of the comics codex and the study of comics materiality by adapting frameworks from critical bibliography and artists’ books scholarship. Prior work on comics materiality, including Aaron Kashtan’s 2018 Between Pen and Pixel, has posited that comics which explore the material dynamics of the codex have emerged in response to a perceived competition with the digital. I argue instead that, rather than being motivated by a digital “crisis,” material experimentation should be read in terms of the pursuit of new expressive possibilities in the codex and comics format. I explore comics from current small press movements with this mindset by applying and adjusting frameworks from artist’s book scholars, as artists’ books and comics alike draw attention to the unique material dynamics of the codex through their self-conscious design. Through my material approach, I advocate for closer attention to comics materiality and for bringing avant-garde small press works closer into the comics studies fold, as they suggest unique and valuable potentialities of print experience-making, representation, and expression. In doing so, these sorts of texts posit the potential future role and value of both the print comic and the codex book.