Sixth meeting: To Seize the Fright. Panels, Gaps & Animal-headed Characters in Trauma-related Graphic Novels

«“I shall become a bat!” says a young and committed Bruce Wayne, remembering his parents’ murder. For the past 75 years, his choice to wear a chiroptera costume to render justice might have seemed odd. Yet, as French comic book artist Joann Sfar states, “one takes the form of an animal when he’s deprived of his right to speak as a human being, when he isn’t heard or considered as one”. With the rise of underground and autobiographical comic books in the 70’s, Comics Art developed new formal and content approaches, but the animal-headed figure remained. From the mouthless mice-headed Jews in Art Spiegelman’s “Maus” to the rabbit-headed teenager in Jason’s “Hey Wait…” and to an owl-headed Craig Thompson in his “Barnyard Animals” short story, therianthropic characters externally reveal how they had been made prisoners of a muted (and mutated) body, by the burden of a family secret, the threat of a sexual abuser or an unutterable traumatic event. Comics Art has the ability to visually enunciate the unpronounceable words as it might, by its specific nature, depict the rugged landscape of a psyche both paralyzed and shattered while experiencing the Fright.»

The sixth meeting of our research group will take place next Wednesday, the 23rd of July, at 16:00 GMT.
This time around, Pedro Moura will be our host, and we will follow Nicolas Verstappen’s presentation, entitled To Seize the Fright. Panels, Gaps & Animal-headed Characters in Trauma-related Graphic Novels.

About Rik Spanjers

Researcher for the University of Amsterdam into the representation of World War II in comic books and manga. Twitter: @rikspanjers
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