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Projections: Comics and the History of Twenty-First-Century Storytelling

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When Art Spiegelman's Maus won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, it marked a new era for comics. Comics are now taken seriously by the same academic and cultural institutions that long dismissed the form. And the visibility of comics continues to increase, with alternative cartoonists now published by major presses and more comics-based films arriving on the screen each year. Pro When Art Spiegelman's Maus won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, it marked a new era for comics. Comics are now taken seriously by the same academic and cultural institutions that long dismissed the form. And the visibility of comics continues to increase, with alternative cartoonists now published by major presses and more comics-based films arriving on the screen each year. Projections argues that the seemingly sudden visibility of comics is no accident. Beginning with the parallel development of narrative comics at the turn of the 20th century, comics have long been a form that invites—indeed requires—readers to help shape the stories being told. Today, with the rise of interactive media, the creative techniques and the reading practices comics have been experimenting with for a century are now in universal demand. Recounting the history of comics from the nineteenth-century rise of sequential comics to the newspaper strip, through comic books and underground comix, to the graphic novel and webcomics, Gardner shows why they offer the best models for rethinking storytelling in the twenty-first century. In the process, he reminds us of some beloved characters from our past and present, including Happy Hooligan, Krazy Kat, Crypt Keeper, and Mr. Natural.


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When Art Spiegelman's Maus won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, it marked a new era for comics. Comics are now taken seriously by the same academic and cultural institutions that long dismissed the form. And the visibility of comics continues to increase, with alternative cartoonists now published by major presses and more comics-based films arriving on the screen each year. Pro When Art Spiegelman's Maus won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, it marked a new era for comics. Comics are now taken seriously by the same academic and cultural institutions that long dismissed the form. And the visibility of comics continues to increase, with alternative cartoonists now published by major presses and more comics-based films arriving on the screen each year. Projections argues that the seemingly sudden visibility of comics is no accident. Beginning with the parallel development of narrative comics at the turn of the 20th century, comics have long been a form that invites—indeed requires—readers to help shape the stories being told. Today, with the rise of interactive media, the creative techniques and the reading practices comics have been experimenting with for a century are now in universal demand. Recounting the history of comics from the nineteenth-century rise of sequential comics to the newspaper strip, through comic books and underground comix, to the graphic novel and webcomics, Gardner shows why they offer the best models for rethinking storytelling in the twenty-first century. In the process, he reminds us of some beloved characters from our past and present, including Happy Hooligan, Krazy Kat, Crypt Keeper, and Mr. Natural.

30 review for Projections: Comics and the History of Twenty-First-Century Storytelling

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    At first, I was afraid that I wasn't going to be able to finish this. It starts out very much in the dry, academic mode. After a while, though, it started clicking for me. I'm not sure if Gardner's prose started improving, or I started getting used to his style, or perhaps it just started touching on subjects that were more familiar to me. The title says everything you need to know about the subject. This is basically a history of American comics, from the earliest newspaper strips, to the lates At first, I was afraid that I wasn't going to be able to finish this. It starts out very much in the dry, academic mode. After a while, though, it started clicking for me. I'm not sure if Gardner's prose started improving, or I started getting used to his style, or perhaps it just started touching on subjects that were more familiar to me. The title says everything you need to know about the subject. This is basically a history of American comics, from the earliest newspaper strips, to the latest webcomics. Obviously, not much detail is provided. Gardner is more concerned with the types of stories being told and the techniques used to tell them. He focuses on a few examples from each era in detail. If comics history is what you're after, there are better books out there, though none quite as wide in scope. And there really hasn't been a definitive history of autobiographical comics yet (that I know of), so Gardner's chapter is as good as you're likely to get for now. This was an interesting book, though, as I said, a bit on the dry, academic side.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    The content was really interesting. I'm just not a fan of the author's writing style. His sentences were very long and wordy. The content was really interesting. I'm just not a fan of the author's writing style. His sentences were very long and wordy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    LA

    I did not care for this book. I feel the title is misleading, there was very little, in my opinion, about comics in the 21st century or where they are headed. I thought I would get to read about the latest indy, or underground, or art comics, or the recent influx of female authors, or something that I'd not yet heard about, but nothing. It was basically a discussion about the history of comics and how they've changed, blah blah blah, and Gardner's opinions on what was done well or not. Dry, very I did not care for this book. I feel the title is misleading, there was very little, in my opinion, about comics in the 21st century or where they are headed. I thought I would get to read about the latest indy, or underground, or art comics, or the recent influx of female authors, or something that I'd not yet heard about, but nothing. It was basically a discussion about the history of comics and how they've changed, blah blah blah, and Gardner's opinions on what was done well or not. Dry, very dry and wordy in the anal academic way. There are very few poorly reproduced images of old comics, all black and white, and some of them are pretty distasteful, racism, sexism, child abuse, (sure, it existed, but these were the examples chosen to be featured) and Gardner doesn't know the difference between women's panties and the top of her stockings. He also mentions that a particular panel focused on the woman's breasts, making them appear prominent for purposes of the story... not so. They did not look any more prominent than in any of the other panels... in fact, less. This is the lame, useless kind of discussion you will find in this boooooring book. Just my opinion.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    A different and interesting perspective on the role of comics in American culture. Good discussions of the relationships between comics and film, autobiography, collecting, and interactive reading. This book isn't an introduction, it assumes that the reader already knows the outline history of comics and has a basic knowledge of literary theory, but if you're interested in an in-depth look at the formal elements of comics over the past century this fills the bill nicely. And it's very readable, A different and interesting perspective on the role of comics in American culture. Good discussions of the relationships between comics and film, autobiography, collecting, and interactive reading. This book isn't an introduction, it assumes that the reader already knows the outline history of comics and has a basic knowledge of literary theory, but if you're interested in an in-depth look at the formal elements of comics over the past century this fills the bill nicely. And it's very readable, clearly written with a minimal use of technical jargon.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    A deeply researched book with interesting areas of focus--on intersections between various popular entertainments in the 20th century, and on reader participation. With its subtitle and the last chapter, it raises some expectations it doesn't quite deliver: the 21st century is mentioned, and the last chapter references new media, but the book doesn't really go into a lot of detail on how new media are already shaping comics, instead making a few general projections about that future. But beyond A deeply researched book with interesting areas of focus--on intersections between various popular entertainments in the 20th century, and on reader participation. With its subtitle and the last chapter, it raises some expectations it doesn't quite deliver: the 21st century is mentioned, and the last chapter references new media, but the book doesn't really go into a lot of detail on how new media are already shaping comics, instead making a few general projections about that future. But beyond that it was very interesting and informative, and a solid historical overview of the form.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Overall, this book does a great job at explaining and making accessible the comics it references. For me, the final chapter elevates Projections up to five stars as Gardner makes interesting and compelling arguments on how comics relate to film and what transformations comics might undergo in the next generation.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Borup

    I was more interested in the first two chapters about the uniqueness of form and how comics developed alongside film, but the entire book was fascinating. Probably the best comics scholarship I've read so far. I was more interested in the first two chapters about the uniqueness of form and how comics developed alongside film, but the entire book was fascinating. Probably the best comics scholarship I've read so far.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mosi Mosi

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Storey

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amber

  11. 4 out of 5

    Colette

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jasmin

  13. 5 out of 5

    Corey

  14. 5 out of 5

    Raisu

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michele Sandrin

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tom Shapira

  17. 4 out of 5

    Eszter Szép

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  19. 4 out of 5

    Geoffrey Long

  20. 5 out of 5

    Molly

  21. 4 out of 5

    James

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chad Brock

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Sasser

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kaleb

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Baldwin

  27. 5 out of 5

    Swetank Gupta

  28. 4 out of 5

    Christine Stamper

  29. 5 out of 5

    B Sonenreich

  30. 4 out of 5

    Derek Royal

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