Telling stories about storytelling: the metacomics of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Warren Ellis

  • Author / Creator
    Kidder, Orion Ussner
  • The Revisionist comics of the 1980s to present represent an effort to literally revise the existing conventions of mainstream comics. The most prominent and common device employed by the Revisionists was self-reflexivity; thus, they created metacomics. The Revisionists make a spectacle of critically interrogating the conventions of mainstream comics, but do so using those same conventions: formal, generic, stylistic, etc. At their most practical level, Revisionist metacomics denaturalise the dominant genres of the American mainstream and therefore also denaturalise the ideological underpinnings of those genres. At their most abstract level, they destabilise the concepts of "fiction," "reality," "realism," and "fantasy," and even collapse them into each other. Chapter 1 explains my methodological approach to metacomics: formal (sequence and hybridity), self-reflexive (metafiction, metapictures, metacomics), and finally denaturalising (articulation and myth). Chapter 2 analyses two metacomic cycles in the mainstream (the Crisis and Squadron Supreme cycles) and surveys the self-reflexive elements of Underground comix (specifically with regard to gender and feminist concerns). Chapter 3 presents three motifs in Revisionist comics by which they denaturalise the superhero: the dictator-hero, postmodern historiography, and fantasy genres. Finally, Chapter 4 analyses three major Revisionist comic-book series—Transmetropolitan, Promethea, and Sandman—all of which comment on contemporary culture and the nature of representation using the dominant genres of American comics (science fiction, superhero, and fantasy, respectively).

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  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
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    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.