Distortions in Spacetime: Emergent Narrative Practices in Comics' Transition from Print to Screen

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The medium of comics is undergoing a transition, as digital display becomes an increasingly popular mode of consumption. This is a transition that has been underway since before the general adoption of the World Wide Web and recent developments in portable display devices have advanced the pace of this change. Smart phones and pad computers now provide a single platform that supports a wide range of visual, narrative and interactive media. As comics gradually leave behind the trappings of print and embrace those of the screen, it becomes necessary to re-examine the fundamental storytelling practices of the medium in the context of these changes.

This chapter considers the relationship between space and time in comics and how this relationship has changed during the medium’s transition from print to screen. It brings together and examines ideas from a range of comics theorists and practitioner-theorists to develop an analysis of the representation of diegetic time within the spatially-based medium of comics. In addition to comics theory, the chapter draws ideas from scholarship concerning digital media. It applies these theories to an examination of the changes in narrative practices within comics that have resulted from digital remediation. In this manner the chapter provides a critically grounded exploration and analysis of how the representation of time in comics has been changed by the range of new storytelling tropes emerging amongst digitally mediated comics.

The chapter also examines the degree to which not only technological possibilities within the digital age have shaped narrative techniques but also preconceptions within production culture regarding what constitutes the comics medium. It concludes by considering the limits of the digital comics form and the role of reader control as a key element within the medium. By examining the manner by which practitioners within the medium of comics have
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStorytelling in the Media Convergence Age
Subtitle of host publicationExploring Screen Narratives
EditorsRoberta Pearson, Anthony Smith
Place of PublicationHoundmills, Bassingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-38815-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-1137-38814-8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2014


  • digital
  • comics


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